The Ahousaht Wellness Center, under construction on the site of the former Ahousaht Indian Residential School, is near completion and plans are to have it up and running by the end of May, according to elected Chief n̓aasʔałuk (John Rampanen).
“Construction has been ongoing for just over two years and there was a financial hiccup but that has been resolved,” he told Ha-Shilth-Sa.
He went on to say that there was a “bit of a freeze” on construction, but the nation’s administration has taken over in a “logistical” role and the workers were rehired to work under Ahousaht’s Operations and Maintenance department.
“Everything is moving forward again, and we anticipate completion in mid-May,” said n̓aasʔałuk.
The First Nation is working on the development of an operational framework to ensure that the completed facility can begin delivering services immediately.
“The wellness centre build is sponsored by a private donor that has been accessed through the Power to Give Foundation,” said n̓aasʔałuk.
The new center will be part of a network of health and wellness services already in existence in the community, with more being developed.
The Wellness Centre will complement healing services being offered by Ahousaht’s Chah Chum Hii Yup Centre. Chah Chum Hii Yup houses Ahousaht’s alcohol and drug, justice and child welfare departments, among others.
In addition, the Ha’wiih of Ahousaht have purchased Tofino Wilderness Lodge through their business entity called Maaqutusiis Hahoulthee Stewardship Society (MHSS).
According to n̓aasʔałuk, the lodge will be operating as a tourist destination about four months a year with the remaining eight months dedicated to healing and well-being of the people. He said that the idea is that tourism funds generated at the lodge can go back into the healing and wellness programs that will be offered there in the off season.
There are other plans in the works for the nation in terms of health and spirituality, but Ahousaht is still in negotiation stages. n̓aasʔałuk says there is a need to deal with the impacts of Indian residential schools that has caused intergenerational trauma.
“We want to deal with intergenerational trauma at its root – the alcohol, drugs, violence – we want to provide support and long-term programs,” he stated.
There will be a grand opening with government officials in attendance. The date had yet to be determined.