Continuity of care for the Elders of Chisasibi, Whapmagoostui and Wemindji will be improved through the construction of an Elders' Home in the Cree Nation of Chisasibi, the first of three similar projects in the Cree territory of Eeyou Istchee, in northern Quebec.
The day in pictures
On June 6, a groundbreaking ceremony was held at the site of the future Elders’s Home, attended by Quebec cabinet ministers Ian Lafrenière, Minister responsible for Indigenous Affairs, Marguerite Blais, Minister Responsible for Seniors and Informal Caregivers, and Denis Lamothe, Member for Ungava, and Daisy House, Chief of the Cree Nation of Chisasibi. CBHSSJB Chairperson Mr. Bertie Wapachee and Executive Director Daniel St-Amour led the visit, which also included a tour of the sites of several other regional facilities that will be built in the coming years, in projects funded by the Quebec Government and designed, built and operated by the CBHSSJB.
The new Elders’ Home will include 32 beds plus one palliative care bed in three self-contained units in a facility that combines indoor and outdoor spaces. Each bedroom will include an on-suite bathroom. Units will group together residents with similar characteristics and needs, and includes provision for those with cognitive issues.
“The strategic approach to strengthen in-territory access to long-term care will provide Wemindji, Whapmagoostui and Chisasibi a homelike living environment that will foster the true essence of Miyupimaatisiiun (wellness) for our elders. This project brings care within proximity, where the heart of holistic connectivity is brought to life by ensuring Cree culture, tradition, language and values are reflected in the delivery of care and facility design. Thus, nurturing meaningful engagement with residents and their families close to home and improving the quality of life for all.” – Bertie Wapachee, CBHSSJB Chairperson
The Chisasibi Elders' Home will accommodate not only the Elders from Chisasibi, but also those from Whapmagoostui and Wemindji. Similar homes will be built in Waskaganish (for residents of Waskaganish, Eastmain and Nemaska) and Mistissini (for residents of Mistissini, Oujé-Bougoumou and Waswanipi). The Waskaganish project breaks ground in 2022, and the Mistissini Elders’ Home will begin construction in 2023.
One of the CBHSSJB’s priorities is to ensure that every new CBHSSJB building is culturally-safe. The Elders’ Home architecture is inspired by miichiwaahp and saaptuan traditional structures, with prospector-style tents attached, to resemble the multi-family living environments that will feel familiar to Elders and their families. Every element of the design was validated by the CBHSSJB’s Material Resources Cultural Safety Committee.
The Elders’ Home will provide full-time nursing care to frail adults with advanced care needs. Services will also be offered to adults with special needs who can no longer be cared for at home.
The clinical plan developed by the CBHSSJB calls for the integration of best clinical practices in the delivery of care to elders in an environment that takes into consideration Cree cultural values.
Currently, in the nine communities of Eeyou Istchee, there are few options for elders requiring long-term institutional care.
“Respecting and caring for kiniwaapimaakinich (Elders) is one of the most important Cree customs that we are taught as Eeyouch and providing Elders with a space where they are cared for – mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually – is an act of community love. On behalf of the Council of the Cree Nation of Chisasibi, we are very pleased that the Cree Health Board has prioritized the building of this facility for our Elders to call their home and we very much look forward to a visit when the doors open.” – Daisy House, Chief of the Cree Nation of Chisasibi
In Chisasibi, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Elders requiring long-term care were living in the Chisasibi Regional Hospital. The COVID-19 outbreak led to their transfer to a retrofitted multi-service day centre, where they now reside.
With few or no options in the community, many Elders must live in long-term care centres (CHSLD) outside Eeyou Istchee, far from family, community, and people who speak their language.
The Eeyou Istchee region covers an area of 450,000 km² in northern Quebec. In Eeyou Istchee by 2031, nearly 2,100 people will be over 65, 1,300 of them in the coastal communities on the eastern shore of James Bay, and 800 living in the Inland communities north of the Jamésie region of Quebec.