Blending cultures
Unique health centre design

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services

RANKIN INLET (Oct 20/99) - The team behind the preliminary design for the Keewatin Regional Health facility to be constructed in Rankin Inlet is going to great lengths to ensure the successful marriage of two cultures.

The design team consists of representatives of the architectural firm (Ferguson Simek Clark), the Department of Public Works, Telecommunications and Technical Services and the Keewatin Regional Health and Social Services Board.

Rosemary Brown of the board says the project is unique because the team is trying to put a cultural value into a medical facility.

The team has been receiving input from elders and a community advisory group since it started design planning.

"It's a marriage of two cultures, the culture of a medical institution and the culture of the people it serves," says Brown.

The design team recently met with the community advisory group in a feedback session to validate its work to date. "We discussed things such as the colours, the windows, the fact that it can accommodate more family visiting, safety for children, these types of things," says Brown.

"We're working closely with the community to make this the region's building for health care."

She says it's been challenging to effectively apply those values to standard health-care activities and make the facility culturally friendly.

"We have to have the waiting room available as well as an alternative area for people to sit when a lady arrives in labour because we're going to have more family than would be typical in a southern situation.

"So, how do we make these spaces available, but also safe and secure so children can't get to places where they shouldn't be? These are the types of challenges we've been addressing."

Brown says the team's efforts are unique in the amount of time it has involved the communities in all its studies.

"The design partners have pooled their expertise to try and make this the best new health-care facility we can for the Kivalliq Region.

Board chairperson Rosie Oolooyuk says the new health-care facility is something Kivalliq residents are finally going to have in their own home, on their own land.

She says they have been working hard to reflect Inuit culture and tradition.

"We decided to really focus on what would be good for our people to feel good about having their own hospital in their own community," says Oolooyuk.

"We listened to various groups in the community, especially our elders, and all these beautiful thoughts and ideas started to come out.

"I think it's going to be very beautiful when it's finished.

"I'm so excited about the design. I just hope I stay healthy enough to see it completed."