It was a long ribbon that got cut at the official opening of the Haida Gwaii Hospital-Xaayda Gwaay Ngaaysdll Naay on Thursday.
Nearly a dozen local health and community leaders shared the honour with B.C. Health Minister Terry Lake and North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice — a sign of how many were involved in the effort to build the hospital, which took a decade to plan, and three years to build.
“This is an awesome day for all the people on Haida Gwaii,” said Sid Crosby (Wigaanad), who thanked everyone who helped make it happen.
Minister Terry Lake said the new hospital means more healthcare can be delivered on island, noting that its new and larger labour and delivery room will make it easier for women to have low-risk births here.
Lake also joined several speakers in paying respects to the old hospital, which opened in 1955. After the ribbon-cutting, residents toured the former hospital one last time before it is demolished to make way for an expanded entryway and off-street parking.
“Like me, it was built in the 1950s,” joked the minister.
“Some would say anything built in the 1950s is outdated and needs to be replaced.”
Queen Charlotte Mayor Greg Martin also took a moment to look back, recalling that it was over a century ago that people from Skidegate, Queen Charlotte and other local communities built the islands’ first hospital in 1908.
“It’s a little bit rickety, but still standing,” said Martin.
“It’s a testament to communities coming together, working together, and living together.”
Kerry Laidlaw, site manager for the Haida Gwaii Hospital, said staff are already starting to feel at home in the new building, one week after the move.
While it has many magnificent features — a sun deck by the long-term care area, digital X-rays, an expanded emergency room, and a layout developed by local staff — Laidlaw said has enjoyed showing patients some of the finer details.
“Look,” he said, smiling. “You have your own toilet!”