McMaster University’s Department of Family Medicine is partnering with the De dwa da dehs nye>s Aboriginal Health Centre that will be located at a new Biindigen Well-Being Centre on Britannia Avenue in Hamilton.
The Biindigen Centre will serve residents of Hamilton’s McQuesten neighbourhood, home to a significant urban Indigenous population. As well as the health-care centre, it will also include offices of Niwasa Kendaaswin Teg, a multi-service Indigenous organization, and Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services.
The centre is relocating to a new site on the former site of the St. Helen’s Catholic elementary school from its present Main Street East home, to meet growing public demand for its services. Currently, it has 74 people waiting for primary care services and 104 individuals on a waiting list for mental health services.
“Biindigen will be an ongoing experience of reconciliation as McMaster joins with De dwa da dehs nye>s in improving access to primary care in the local community, and in creating opportunities for learners to deepen their understanding of Indigenous knowledge and their capacity for offering culturally safe care,” said Cathy Risdon, chair of the Department of Family Medicine.
“Importantly, it will finally allow for a longitudinal curriculum in Indigenous health that is immersive and impactful.”
While a construction start date has yet to be confirmed, representatives from McMaster were among the key stakeholders who attended a celebration at the new site on July 15.
In a news release, the De dwa da dehs nye>s Aboriginal Health Centre said the new location was chosen as six per cent of people living in the McQuesten neighbourhood identify as Indigenous. The overall proportion of Indigenous people in Hamilton is 3.3 per cent.
The centre recently received $10 million in funding from the Ministry of Health for the new building.
“Many of the Indigenous population do not trust mainstream health-care providers as they don’t feel safe or welcome,” said Pat Mandy, chair of the Biindigen steering committee.
“The centre will be a place that acknowledges Indigenous culture and is welcoming to all.”