qathet Regional District, B.C. – Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) in partnership with Tla'amin Nation, officially announced the renaming of Powell River General Hospital to qathet General Hospital. Tla'amin Nation and VCH leadership marked the occasion with a renaming ceremony on the grounds of the hospital today, which serves the qathet Regional District and surrounding rural communities.
""This is a welcome announcement and I appreciate the spirit and work of reconciliation behind it," said Nicholas Simons, MLA for Powell River Sunshine Coast. "We need to ensure health care is delivered in a culturally safe environment, and this includes taking steps to reflect the history of the place and the people who live there."
In 2021, the new name was proposed by Tla'amin government to VCH leadership as an alternative, culturally appropriate name for the acute care facility. The name Powell River is associated with a public official dating back to the 1800s who promoted policies that continue to cause harms to Indigenous peoples today.
"We graciously accept the new name, qathet General Hospital, proposed by Tla'amin Nation, and we are grateful for their partnership," said Vivian Eliopoulos, VCH president and CEO. "Vancouver Coastal Health is deeply committed to advancing Indigenous cultural safety, and this new name reflects our organizational commitment to provide Indigenous peoples with safe, quality and culturally appropriate care. We would like to extend our immense gratitude to Tla'amin Nation, Elders and community members for their invaluable collaboration and partnership as we continue along our journey towards respectful and meaningful reconciliation."
Dillon Johnson, Executive Councillor, Community Services House Post, Tla'amin Nation said, "Tla'amin Nation commends the leadership that Vancouver Coastal Health has exhibited with changing the name of the local hospital. This name change is meaningful for our people as it addresses a barrier to culturally safe care, and it symbolizes a positive path forward. Through our collaboration on the name change and other recent initiatives, VCH is demonstrating how to advance reconciliation locally. We raise our hands to VCH in appreciation."
Leslie Bonshor, VCH's vice-president of Indigenous Health said, "Receiving this name is both a great honour and responsibility for our organization. It further solidifies our commitment to continue to work in partnership with Tla'amin Nation to ensure we earn and carry this name with respect."
VCH will commission a Tla'amin artist to design a new sign for the hospital, which the health authority intends to install at the hospital's entrance later in the year.
VCH's Board Chair Dr. Penny Ballem said, "Our commitment to truth and reconciliation must be meaningfully addressed from leadership through to frontline staff. The stark findings from the In Plain Sight- Addressing Indigenous-specific Racism and Discrimination in B.C. Health Care report are another reminder of the barriers Indigenous clients and patients may face while navigating the health care system. Renaming this hospital site is an important milestone as we work to ensure every health care facility operating in our region is a culturally safe space for Indigenous people seeking essential treatment and care."
Adrian Dix, Minister of Health said, "An impactful step forward in Indigenous reconciliation, qathet General Hospital is the first acute care site in the VCH region with an Indigenous name proposed by a First Nations partner. It's also meaningful that the word qathet, from q̓at̓ᶿət, means 'working together, bringing together' in Ayajuthem, the language of Tla'amin Nation."
VCH is committed to delivering exceptional care for all 1.2 million people within the ancestral, traditional and unceded homelands of 14 First Nations. With more than 26,000 staff and medical staff, VCH is British Columbia's hub of health care innovation, research and academic excellence, providing specialized care to patients throughout the province.