R.W. Large Memorial Hospital officially renamed to ƛ̓uxválásu̓ilas Heiltsuk Hospital
Bella Bella, B.C. – Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) in partnership with Heiltsuk Nation, officially announced the renaming of R.W. Large Memorial Hospital to ƛ̓uxválásu̓ilas Heiltsuk Hospital, which serves Bella Bella and surrounding rural communities, including the Kitasoo/Xai’xais Nation in the village of Klemtu and Wuikinuxv Nation along the Rivers Inlet.
October 11. 2023 – Spelling update of ƛúxválásu'ailas changed to ƛ̓uxválásu̓ilas. The new name for hospital in Bella Bella is ƛ̓uxválásu̓ilas (kwil-valas-iwaylas) Heiltsuk Hospital, which means ‘a place for sick people’ in Haíɫzaqvḷa.
VCH and the Heiltsuk Nation have a longstanding relationship, especially regarding the R. W. Large Memorial Hospital within Heiltsuk territory. In 2018, Heiltsuk Nation and VCH began working together to rename the acute care facility located on Heiltsuk territory to provide Indigenous cultural safety for the people it serves. The hospital was named posthumously after Dr. Richard Whitfield (R.W.) Large, a physician who ran the hospital starting in 1898. The name is associated with policies implemented between 1933 and 1973 which disproportionately targeted Indigenous women and continue to cause harm to Indigenous peoples today. In 2014, VCH took over operation of the hospital.
Today, VCH and Heiltsuk Nation work together to courageously address systemic racism and discrimination in the health care sector, and support reconciliation by considering partnerships and initiatives that support cultural safety, well-being, maintenance, and revitalization.
Similarly, in July 2022, VCH together with Tla’amin Nation, renamed Powell River General Hospital to qathet General Hospital. These initiatives aim to create culturally safe and welcoming spaces for Indigenous people seeking health care.
VCH is committed to delivering exceptional care to 1.2 million people, including the First Nations, Métis and Inuit in our region, within the traditional territories of the Heiltsuk, Kitasoo-Xai'xais, Lil'wat, Musqueam, N'Quatqua, Nuxalk, Samahquam, shíshálh, Skatin, Squamish, Tla'amin, Tsleil-Waututh, Wuikinuxv, and Xa'xtsa. VCH is British Columbia’s hub of health-care innovation, research and academic excellence, providing specialized care to patients throughout the province. Learn more at vch.ca.
Hon. Adrian Dix, Minister of Health –
“It’s critical that healthcare is delivered in a trauma-informed, culturally safe environment. I’m grateful to the Heiltsuk Nation and Vancouver Coastal Health for their dedicated efforts on getting the hospital for the community in Bella Bella renamed. This is a meaningful and impactful step towards Indigenous reconciliation, and we are deeply committed to furthering our commitment and work in reconciliation, creating safe healthcare for all.”
Hon. Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation –
“As part of our ongoing work towards meaningful reconciliation, we recognize the importance of inclusion, recognition, and respect. Working in partnership with Heiltsuk Nation to develop a culturally appropriate name for an important place of community healing is a tangible step towards creating a healthcare environment on the Central Coast that welcomes everyone.”
Marilyn Slett, elected Chief of the Heiltsuk Nation –
“We welcome VCH’s proactive support in making this name change, which is consistent with the cultural and linguistic reclamation and revitalization work of Indigenous nations around the world. We are excited to have a Heiltsuk name for our hospital.”
Bob Chapman, Acting CEO and Vice President – Vancouver Community at VCH –
“We graciously accept the new name, ƛ̓uxválásu̓ilas Heiltsuk Hospital, proposed by Heiltsuk Nation, and we are grateful for their partnership in this endeavour. We have been working towards this milestone for a number of years and are very pleased to be able to come together and celebrate in Bella Bella, with leaders from Heiltsuk Nation and Vancouver Coastal Health. We would like to extend our immense gratitude to Heiltsuk Nation, Elders and community members for approaching us with this matter and collaborating with us as we continue along our journey towards respectful and meaningful reconciliation with Indigenous peoples on the Central Coast and throughout our region.”
Jennifer Rice, Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Health and MLA for North Coast –
“I know how important this renaming is to Heiltsuk and the community, as they've been advocating for this change for a long time. Our government is committed to strengthening access to culturally safe, inclusive, and supportive health-care services for all people in B.C. Today's renaming builds upon our commitment towards respectful reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples on the central coast.”
Leslie Bonshor, Vice President of Indigenous Health at VCH –
“Receiving this name is both a great honour and responsibility for our organization. Vancouver Coastal Health is deeply committed providing exceptional care for all and a big part of this work is advancing Indigenous cultural safety. We are moving forward through the introduction of new memorandum of understanding, grounded in collaboration and respect, that will further commitment to working in partnership with the Heiltsuk Nation and all of the First Nations throughout our region to create a culturally safe health system.”
October 11, 2023 – Spelling update of ƛúxválásu'ailas changed to ƛ̓uxválásu̓ilas.