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Deputy Chief Longchap: "It feels like I have my father back."

November 04, 2014
Deputy Chief of Mistissini Gerald Longchap and family. (Photo T. Philiptchenko)

This is an English translation of an interview conducted in Cree by Joshua Loon on October 9, 2014, the day of the opening of the dialysis unit inside the Mistissini Community Miyupimaatisiiun Centre.

Q: What is the opening of the dialysis unit going to change in the community of Mistissini?

GL: I would like to thank the Cree Health Board for making this possible. My father is in dialysis so I am very familiar with the issue. I have seen my father going for his treatments outside Mistissini for a long time. It cost a lot and he was weary and emotional.  Our family was always looking for someone to go with him. Sometimes I went myself but often my schedule was full.  I was happy when my father’s treatments were transferred from Montreal to Chibougamau, but even Chibougamau still means travelling.

Today my father is here in the community. He’s treated locally. It feels like I have my father back. This is how others in Mistissini feel now, having a family member treated locally. We are hoping to bring back home all the patients being treated in Montreal. This is what our people want.

Q: How long have you been preparing for this?

GL: Mistissini people started an awareness campaign to have dialysis machines in the community in 1999. To me, it feels like we finally reached our destination. Hemodialysis patients had a hard time with all the travel because of the distances between them and the dialysis machines.

Q: Why was it important for Mistissini to offer treatment locally?

GL: The reason why we want our people to be near their community is because we want them to enjoy doing the activities they love to do. My father likes to make snowshoes. Now he has the time to do it again.

Q: What were the biggest challenges in implementing these dialysis machines here in Mistissini?

GL: The biggest challenges were the cost and the training of staff. The majority of the staff are non-natives. I am looking forward to the day when we have mostly Cree staff. Our patients often don’t speak English or French.