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Sacred space at Kootenay Lake Hospital opens its doors

The space will be used as a multi-faith place for reflection and for families to gather
The sacred space was formerly a chapel that has not been much used by the public in recent years. Photo: Submitted

Kootenay Lake Hospital has turned a former chapel into a multi-faith sacred space.

The grand opening was held on Feb. 21, according to a news release from the hospital.

The project was carried out in conjunction with Interior Health and the Kootenay Boundary Aboriginal Services Collaborative.

The project’s working group members, midwife Tanya Momtazian and Dr. Martha Wilson, explained that the primary objective of the renovation project was to demonstrate KLH’s commitment to cultural safety and humility.

“Our plans to renovate the chapel were based on recommendations from the In Plain Sight report, the independent review of Indigenous-specific racism in the B.C. health care system,” Momtazian said.

“The transfiguration of the chapel space into a sacred space has been a heartfelt journey for me and the team and we are delighted to have created a culturally appropriate and safe space for ceremony, grief and celebration in our hospital.”

Wilson said many staff at KLH have long waited to turn the chapel into a more inclusive sacred space.

“I was very drawn to support this possibility in collaboration as a small step toward reconciliation at KLH,” she said.

Jackie Malcolm, director of clinical operations in Nelson for Interior Health, said that the former chapel was under-utilized by hospital visitors.

“Our vision was to create a space that will be used as a space for reflection, for families to gather, to step away from the busyness of the day and to celebrate the beauty of our community,” Malcolm said.

The news release states that the chapel is located next to the fourth floor stairwell and features a modern design and Indigenous art, as well as spectacular views of Kootenay Lake and surrounding mountains.

In the upcoming months, the facility engagement working group will reach out to staff, families, and the community to seek feedback about the space to ensure that it is being utilized in the best way possible.

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