A campaign to raise $15 million for a new long-term care home for Wiikwemkoong elders has kicked off with two major donations totaling more than $800,000.
This week, members of the Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory of Manitoulin Island were joined by local officials, donors, and corporate representatives to kick-off their campaign to support the expansion and development of the Wiikwemkoong Elders’ Home.
The project has been in progress since 2017.
“We need that our Wiikwemkoong elders need a new long-term care home,” said Ogimaa Kwe Rachel Manitowabi. “We take it to heart that we are doing this work on behalf of our elders who are currently in nursing homes, as well as others who will come forward and require what the nursing home can provide.
“We may be one of the ones who need this,” she added. “While we make this decision today for our elders who are there right now, we also make this decision for the future generations not only in Wikwemikong, but all across the region, as well as within the settler community.”
In its current form, the Wiikwemkoong Elders’ Home has 59 beds. That’s just short of the community’s needs as the population ages and falls below current provincial regulations.
The home’s license is also set to expire in June 2025. Without a new home, the community is concerned that Wiikwemkoong Elders, who include residential school survivors, will be forced to leave their community to access housing, care and resources.
The fundraising campaign supports plans for an expanded facility, which will have 96 beds.
Manitowabi said the new facility will not just allow Elders to stay close to home, but also to allow the community to remain connected with them.
“Elders help to create a resilient community,” she said. “They instill in us what’s important. (We) are doing everything possible to honour our elders who need long-term care, to ensure they have a safe, warm, and healthy home to live and to strive in.”
Initial conceptual designs incorporate elements of First Nations culture and design both inside and outside. They also include plans to construct the home facing east, an ideal orientation for sunrise ceremonies, which members take part in to honour each new day.
The project has already received significant monetary support towards their goal. Two major donations were announced during the launch event.
TD Bank Group, which has partnered with the community on initiatives over the last 40 years, presented a cheque for $750,000 to support the elders home.
“We’re proud to support this project that will bring a new home to many elders in the community and keep them close to family, friends, culture, and land,” said John Doris, district VP of TD Commercial Banking group in Northern Ontario.
“We’re committed to doing our part towards truth and reconciliation, and supporting community initiatives such as this. It promotes a connection to the land, fosters a sense of belonging, and it has a positive impact on not just the community, but the entire region.”
Meanwhile, Hydro One also donated $75,000, which will be delivered over the next three years.
“No one wants to be in an elders home if they can help it,” said Simmer Anand, manager of Indigenous relations. “But if they are in that position, they want to be in a place where they feel comfortable, where there is culturally appropriate food, where traditions are followed. That’s what this home is about.”
The Wiikwemkoong Elders’ Home is also eligible for $10.3 million in financing through the Ministry of Long-term Care, as well as a grant for $2.7 million. This funding will be in addition to money raised through the capital campaign, which hopes to source $15 million from corporate and individual donations and gifts, as well as other federal and provincial government programs.
To donate to the Wiikwemkoong Elders’ Home, visit www.honouringourelders.ca. Donors will be issued a tax receipt.
For more information on the campaign, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
The Local Journalism Initiative is made possible through funding from the federal government.
By Mia Jensen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Jan 28, 2023 at 01:11