The North Bay Regional Health Centre (NBRHC) has announced an addition to the facility in the form of a healing tipi.

The tipi is designed so that Indigenous patients at the hospital may practice their culture and connect to their Spirit and environment.

The opening ceremony featured a prayer and cultural grounds acknowledgement by the NBRHC.

Peter Beaucage, Elder of the Nipissing First Nation, shared an opening prayer, teaching and blessing for the new tipi. “Everyone has the right to be who they are because our Creator sends us here to live our lives to the best of our abilities. It reflects the grounds where people of all races can participate with the spirit,” shared Beaucage.

A patient who is currently receiving care at the NBRHC says being able to practice their culture while undergoing treatment is meaningful and they feel at peace when they are in the cultural space.

“Elders visit with their bundles and teach us in the tipi, allowing us to connect with the earth and our community,” the patient shared. “I feel it’s extremely important for patients to help us connect to our roots and identify as Indigenous people.”

The healing tipi, located on the grounds of the NBRHC. (Supplied by the NBRHC Foundation)

Paul Heinrich, President and CEO of the NBRHC is happy with how the Tipi turned out and says that the Tipi will bring Indigenous patients together to heal through culture.

“Our Regional Aboriginal Mental Health Service (RAMHS) provides culturally responsive supports to Indigenous patients at our Health Centre. We know from our patients that spaces like these are integral to their wellness and recovery,” said Heinrich.

The new tipi was made possible through donations and sponsorships, and proceeds from the Minweyaang Round Dance held earlier this year. Leadership sponsors include Chester’s Gas Bar and North Shore Convenience.

“When our mind gets sick we need to heal it, and in our culture, that is done through connecting with our spirit, our environment and our community. The tipi is a safe place that represents these things and will allow patients to begin their wellness journey in a culturally significant way. Our sponsorship for the tipi is a meaningful way to enhance the care experience for all patients while ensuring our Indigenous brothers and sisters and remain connected to our culture,” said Edgar Goulais, from North Shore Convenience and Chester’s Gas Bar.