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Hospital at Bella Bella receives Heiltsuk name

R.W. Large Memorial Hospital is now called ƛúxválásu’ailas Heiltsuk Hospital
Leslie Bonshor, vice-president Indigenous Health VCH, Dawn Hall, program manager, ƛúxválásu’ailas Heiltsuk Hospital, VCH, Davis Paul McKenzie, VCH board member, Chief Marilyn Slett, Heiltsuk Nation and VCH board member and VCH board chair Dr. Penny Ballem attend an official renaming for the hospital in Bella Bella. (Photo courtesy of Vancouver Coastal Health)

The hospital in Bella Bella on the Central Coast has been renamed.

Formerly the R.W. Large Memorial Hospital, the hospital is now ƛúxválásu’ailas Heiltsuk Hospital which means ‘a place for sick people’ in the Heiltsuk language.

Originally the hospital was named after Dr. Richard Whitfield (R.W.) Large who ran the hospital starting in 1898.

In 2014, Vancouver Coastal Health took over running the hospital and in 2018 began working with the Heiltsuk Nation on renaming the hospital.

Hon. Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, said it is critical that healthcare is delivered in a trauma-informed, culturally safe environment.

“I’m grateful to the Heiltsuk Nation and Vancouver Coastal Health for their dedicated efforts on getting the hospital

for the community in Bella Bella renamed. This is a meaningful and impactful step towards Indigenous reconciliation, and we are deeply committed to furthering our commitment and work in reconciliation, creating safe healthcare for all.”

Marilyn Slett, elected Chief of the Heiltsuk Nation, said the nation welcomes VCH’s proactive support in making the name change, which is consistent with the cultural and linguistic reclamation and revitalization work of Indigenous nations around the world.

“We are excited to have a Heiltsuk name for our hospital.”

Bob Chapman, Acting CEO and vice president of VCH, said the health authority graciously accepts the new name, which was proposed by the Heiltsuk Nation.

We have been working towards this milestone for a number of years and are very pleased to be able to come together and celebrate in Bella Bella, with leaders from Heiltsuk Nation and Vancouver Coastal Health,” Chapman said.

He thanked the Heiltsuk Nation, elders and community members for approaching VCH with this matter and collaborating with them as they continue along the journey towards respectful and meaningful reconciliation with Indigenous peoples on the Central Coast and throughout the region.

With files from the Vancouver Coastal Health and the Province of British Columbia

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Monica Lamb-Yorski

About the Author: Monica Lamb-Yorski

A B.C. gal, I was born in Alert Bay, raised in Nelson, graduated from the University of Winnipeg, and wrote my first-ever article for the Prince Rupert Daily News.
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