Crew of dignitaries on hand for opening of MHC’s Health, Wellness and Athletics Expansion

The Health, Wellness, and Athletics Expansion at Medicine Hat College officially opened Tuesday. Elder Charlie Fox opened the ceremony with an Indigenous prayer, telling the audience, “I feel nothing but gratification to be asked here to help in some way. Today, I am going to be sharing a prayer thanking the Creator for all the beautiful things we share and asking for blessings for all of us.”

The platform party included Premier Danielle Smith, Minister of Advanced Education Demetrios Nicolaides, Minister of Health Jason Copping, MHC president Kevin Shufflebotham, board chair Sarah MacKenzie and Student Association president Alysha Kuntz, as well as South County Co-op CEO Paul Haynes. All addressed the crowd with messages of thanks and congratulations.

Nicolaides thanked everyone and said how much he’s enjoyed working with Shufflebotham. There are about 2,500 students studying between the Brooks and Medicine Hat campuses and the college has the lowest student-to-instructor ratio within Alberta.

“This gives students a very personal and rewarding academic experience,” Nicolaides said. “Today’s grand opening helps the college grow a vibrant future with learners and the entire southern regions. Reinforcing their guiding principle of authenticity, collaboration and action.”

Shufflebotham thanked South County Co-op for giving back to communities across southeast Alberta. Haynes talked about building sustainable communities together, which begins with a feeling of belonging.

“Our hope is the Co-op Wellness Commons will foster greater inclusivity while providing outstanding educational and cultural opportunities for generations to come.”

Shufflebotham and Haynes unveiled a new sign on the building prior to Kuntz addressing the crowd.

Barry Morishita, Alberta Party leader and candidate for the Brooks-Medicine Hat byelection, also attended the event.

“It’s great to see investment made in southern Alberta, particularly in Medicine Hat. The college campus here supports the community of Brooks as well so any extra capacity is welcome.”

Following the ribbon cutting, guests were invited inside to tour the new expansion. Dancing and singing demonstrations took place within the Indigenous space. The group toured the interactive learning spaces where a simulated ambulance could be driven, which Smith attempted to varying success. The birthing room and child and infant rooms have interactive dolls that breath, blink, have heartbeats and can simulate various illnesses. During the tour, the chid was simulating respiratory distress and having seizures.

SAMANTHA JOHNSON, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News