Following a consultation process with the public and various stakeholders, Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) has confirmed it is renaming the 83-year old hospital to build stronger ties with the community and support concerns by the Sechelt Nation about the existing name.
VCH, in recognition of the historic role the Sechelt Nation played in the location of the current hospital, has agreed that the traditional name—shíshálh—will also be used on signage and in other circumstances as appropriate.
“On behalf of the provincial government, we’re very pleased that the proposal to rename St. Mary’s as Sechelt Hospital has been successful,” says Health Minister Terry Lake. “This change, as well as the opportunity to use the traditional shíshálh name, has deep significance to members of the Sechelt Nation and support from the local community.”
The new name not only builds a geographic link between the hospital and the communities it serves, but it also supports ongoing reconciliation with the local First Nations community, who generously donated the land the hospital sits on for the sum of one dollar back in 1964.
“We recognize that some people will be sad at changing a name that has been associated with the local hospital for several decades, which is why we waited to officially announce the new name until we completed all the required processes,” says Lauren Tindall, VCH director of the Sunshine Coast. “This is a wonderful opportunity to connect the hospital more closely to the community where it sits and improve safety by making it easier for the many visitors, residents and outside health care providers to find it.”
Tindall adds that along with the use of the traditional shíshálh name on signage, VCH will also recognize the valuable contribution of the hospital auxiliary, foundation and church in the hospital’s history through a display in the lobby.
The decision to officially change the name from St. Mary’s Hospital—the only hospital in Canada with a denominational name that has no denominational support or governance—arose after the opening of the newly renovated facility in late 2013. The Sechelt Nation asked VCH to consider renaming the hospital in the spirit of reconciliation and to remove a name with links to the residential school system.
Many members of the community and several stakeholders supported the name change, which will officially take place in ceremonies later this month. Signage and other identifiers will be updated over the coming months.
VCH is responsible for the delivery of $3.4 billion in community, hospital and residential care to more than one million people in communities including Richmond, Vancouver, the North Shore, Sunshine Coast, Sea to Sky corridor, Powell River, Bella Bella and Bella Coola.
FOR MEDIA ENQUIRIES:
Viola Kaminski, Public Affairs Officer
Vancouver Coastal Health