Nazko Chief Leah Stump and the Eldzi Singers performed a blessing for the new ED/ICU addition at G.R. Baker Memorial Hospital, and those who come there for healing, with a smudging ceremony, drumming, and singing. Those performing the ceremony were (L-R) Monica Paul, Geraldine Sill, Chief Leah Stump, Racheal Chantyman, Corina Clement, Violet Boyd. (Northern Health photo)

The name is healing, for Quesnel hospital

Hospital gets companion name in two Indigenous languages

G.R. Baker Hospital’s new addition now has a new name – two new names, actually – and it still has the old one.

On Thursday (Feb. 16), drum beats and singing ushered in the companion names for Quesnel’s headquarters of healing. The ED/ICU expansion (Emergency Department-Intensive Care Unit) will open with more than just the G.R. Baker identification. Thanks to an exhaustive consultation process Northern Health undertook with the First Nations of the greater Quesnel area, the addition will carry the name Dune Soonunakehududzuk (in the Dakelh language, sometimes still referred to as Carrier) and Deni Belh ?Ats’enanx (in the Chilcotin or Tŝilhqot’in language). It translates to mean The People Are Healing.

“Representatives from nearby Indigenous communities toured the new ED/ICU addition for G.R. Baker Memorial Hospital for the unveiling of the new companion names, developed in partnership and consultation with neighbouring Indigenous communities including Nazko First Nation, Lhtako Dene Nation, ?Esdilagh First Nation, and Lhoosk’uz Dene First Nation and it serves to reflect the region and traditional territory on which the hospital was built,” said a statement issued by Northern Health. “In recognition of the languages used in the region, the companion name for the addition is composed of three lines. The first line in Carrier, the second line in Chilcotin and the third line in English.”

To reach this point, Northern Health formed a working group with representation from nearby Indigenous communities consisting of local community members and Elders. Over a period of several months, naming options were discussed and shared back with the communities before a final decision was reached.

“It was great to be able to share our language (Southern Carrier/Dakelh). We are the people that came a long way. Our voices are very strong and so are our knowledge keepers of our land. Everything comes from the heart and mind and our voice,” said Ellie Peters, one of the Elders from Lhtako Dene who sat on the naming working group for the new addition to the hospital. “Now, to see our welcome sign (Dune Soonunakehududzuk), I feel happy to walk down the hall and be part of the hospital.”

“The addition of a companion name is an important step in reconciliation within the health care system and furthering Northern Health’s goal of creating a culturally-safe and welcoming environment in our facilities,” said the Northern Health statement.

“For generations, there have been traditional names given to the various areas and spaces within this province by the First People. Seeing and hearing our languages is a form of healing and provides an immediate sense of welcome,” said Nicole Cross | Noxs Niisyuus, vice-president, Indigenous Health. “I’m inspired and encouraged by the leadership of the communities and the partnership we are building.”

The Northern Health board of directors also had the opportunity to tour the newly re-developed space and see the new companion name signage during their recent regular meeting in Quesnel.

“This new companion name is just one step in what must be a sustained and thoughtful journey towards reconciliation and cultural safety in the healthcare system,” said Colleen Nyce, board chair. “I am grateful for the work of the Naming Working Group and the participants who dedicated their time to get us to this milestone.”

Pronunciation Guide:

Dune Soonunakehududzuk

Pronunciation: Du Neh Soo nuh nah keh hud ud zuk

Deni Belh ?Ats’enanx

Pronunciation: Deneh beth ats enal

Read more: G.R. Baker upgrades to bring hospital into 21st century: health services administrator

Read more: Appeal for ‘revolutionary’ change voiced at B.C.’s latest reconciliation awards

IndigenousIndigenous reconcilliationNorthern HealthQuesnel