The Aboriginal health center will move to the site of the former Catholic school
After years of planning, the location of a new De dwa da dehs nye>s Aboriginal Health Center in Hamilton has been announced.
Called the Biindigen Wellness Center, it will be built in the McQuesten neighborhood on Britannia Avenue — a neighborhood with a higher than average Indigenous population — on the site of the former St. Helen’s Catholic Elementary School.
The center will house the De dwa da dehs nye>s Aboriginal Health Centre, Niwasa Kendaaswin Teg and Ontario Native Housing Services. The center also partners with McMaster University’s Department of Family Medicine to provide primary care services.
The center is moving from its current location west of Sherman Avenue South because it is too small to meet community demand, leaving many people on the waiting list to access healthcare services primaries.
In April, the center said 74 people were waiting for primary care services and 52% of them had been on the waiting list for more than nine months.
Some 104 people were on a waiting list for mental health care, more than half of whom waited more than seven months.
In a news release, the De dwa da dehs nye>s Aboriginal Health Center said the new location was chosen because while 3.3% of Hamilton residents overall are Aboriginal, 6% of those who live in McQuesten are aboriginal.
The center’s move to a larger site has been underway since 2014 and has received over $10 million from provincial, federal and municipal governments.
“Much of the Indigenous population does not trust traditional health care providers because they do not feel safe or welcome. The center will be a place that recognizes Indigenous culture and is welcoming to all,” Pat Mandy, Chair of the Biindigen Steering Committee, said in a press release.
Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger said the city is “very pleased to help bring this innovative, Indigenous-led primary health care facility into the Indigenous community.”
A construction start date has not been announced. But a celebration of the new location was held on Friday morning.