It was a significant moment for Squamish Knowledge Keeper T’uy’t’tanat Cease Wyss to step foot onto the new St. Paul’s Hospital construction site — and future site of the Traditional Medicine Garden, located at the centre of the main floor.
“It was magnificent. It was very exciting to go through the shell of this building and to see all the many components that are going into building this new hospital. It’s just momentous to be able to go to the site where the medicine garden will be.”
For almost two years, T’uy’t’tanat has worked closely with the Indigenous Wellness and Reconciliation (IWR) team at Providence to design the medicine garden connected to the All Nations Sacred Space, a place to grow traditional medicinal plants to support the care of Indigenous patients and their families. As nature is a significant part of Indigenous traditional medicine, the hope is the space will help Indigenous people feel welcome, calm, and safe. T’uy’t’tanat says she and the team prioritized using nature-inspired imagery, stones, plants, water, and other natural elements.
This idea of holistic healing is central to the mission of the IWR team. The team has gathered input from the Host Nations and patient partners during each phase of this project to ensure the new hospital will meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of Indigenous patients.
“We need to ensure there are culturally safe spaces that support holistic Indigenous wellness and healing for any patients or families who step foot in this new hospital,” says Sheri Hundseth, director of Indigenous Relations and Community Engagement.
Last seven and counting
From starting work on the main floor in January to pouring concrete on level seven this month, a lot of progress has been made on the new hospital this year. And there’s much more to come.
“By the end of the year, we should have concrete poured for the seventh floor,” says Kevin Little. “By the middle of next year, we should have levels 8 – 11 poured, and all the way to the roof.”
It’s an impressive sight for long-time partners and staff who have spent years providing input on the project.
“This is my first time to the site since construction started and I’m really blown away,” says Renee Edwards, executive director of Stewardship & Donor Relations at St. Paul’s Foundation. “Being here just brings this project to life. It’s really helpful to get into the footprint of the building so we can explain it to our partners who are supporters and to our staff who are working every day to get more funds for the hospital.”
Adds Jeff Masse, professional practice leader of Occupational Therapy, “It’s remarkable to see the sheer scale of this project, like the size of the atrium and the size of the courtyards. Just to see it all in reality is really inspiring.”
“It makes sense to me that the new St. Paul’s Hospital and the Indigenous Wellness and Welcoming Centre will again change the geography and the ecosystem, not only of the land, but of the health care system. It all made sense to me when I was doing this beautiful work at the new site,” said Sulksun (Shane Pointe) at his ceremonial blessing. To learn more about the Medicine Garden, the Indigenous Wellness and Welcoming Centre, and Indigenous Wellness at PHC, click the link below.