Pasqua First Nation held a sod-turning ceremony Friday to celebrate the beginning of construction of an elders lodge on the Saskatchewan First Nation.
The new lodge will house 12 elders who need long-term care and will include spaces for recreation, socialization and culture. It will have a commercial kitchen, hair salon, ceremonial room, as well as offices for a dentist and a doctor.
"The long-term care facility is not just a room — there are kitchenettes, they have living quarters, a bedroom … to also give them some comfort instead of just having them in a bedroom," said Pasqua First Nation Chief Matthew Peigan.
"Our elders that are in our independent living complex and their centres … could transition over to the long-term care facility," Peigan said.
The First Nation, about 55 kilometres northeast of Regina, currently has an independent living complex, but it is not suitable for those who need higher levels of care, he said. Currently, seniors who need more care have leave the community to get it.
"And that's not our way — our way is not to send our elders away," Peigan said. "Our culture is that we have to care for and tend for all of our people, and if it wasn't for our elders we wouldn't be here."
The new lodge will mean elders don't need to leave the community for higher-level care, and will give them "a sense of security."
"We know they need those … [higher-level] services, so that's why we're trying to hustle on the long-term care facility," Peigan said.
Anyone 65 or older from Pasqua First Nation will be able to use the facility, he said.
The project will cost "a little over $12 million," he said, and is funded by the First Nation itself using interest returns from settlement money. The new lodge was designed in partnership with KRN Tolentino Architecture and will be built by Quorex Construction Services.
Elders in the community also helped in the design process, Peigan said.
"I said, 'Make sure you design it really good, because one day I'm going to be in there,'" he said. "And we don't think about that — we may need those services."
The lodge will be completed and ready for use by September 2021, he said.
Peigan said the next thing Pasqua First Nation wants to focus on is turning the current long-term care facility for seniors, which has 20 units, into a youth centre. That would allow the First Nation to bring home youth who are currently in the foster system, he said.