Hospital a focus of pride

Staff writer
April 4, 2014 01:00 AM


In 1959 I sat on a committee struck to study the relocation of St. Mary's Hospital from Pender Harbour to a more central location. We looked at three sites: the Porpoise Bay area of Sechelt, in Roberts Creek, and in the area of Brothers Park in Gibsons. Gibsons residents were very keen.

Clarence Joe, the elder statesman of the Sechelt Indian Band at the time, offered us some land on their property because Band members believed it was in their best interest to have the hospital close at hand.

He assured the skeptics that there were no strings attached then or in the future. It was a clear and simple gift. All they wanted was an appreciation plaque in the foyer. St. Mary's has a rich history.

The original hospital was built by Pender Harbour volunteers and owned and run by the Columbia Coast Mission (Anglican Church). It provided health care only, based on compassion and respect. When the government took over, that tradition continued. Education and religion played no part.

Since it was moved to Sechelt, the hospital has become a focus of pride in the community. Some 20 years ago, it was featured in Maclean's magazine as one of the best small hospitals in Canada. In over 50 years I'm unaware of any Aboriginal person being treated with anything but compassion and respect.

Now the Indian Band wants to change the name, ostensibly because of bad memories and to reflect their heritage. The residential school in Sechelt was not called St. Mary's. Erasing history has been shown to be immoral.

This issue has created a division in an otherwise harmonious community.

I suggest that the new wing be given a name suitable to the First Nations and the community at large - and keep St. Mary's Hospital.

Eric Paetkau, M.D., Sechelt

© Copyright 2015 Coast Reporter


NOTE: To post a comment you must have an account with at least one of the following services: Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ You may then login using your account credentials for that service. If you do not already have an account you may register a new profile with Disqus by first clicking the "Post as" button and then the link: "Don't have one? Register a new profile".

The Coast Reporter welcomes your opinions and comments. We do not allow personal attacks, offensive language or unsubstantiated allegations. We reserve the right to edit comments for length, style, legality and taste and reproduce them in print, electronic or otherwise. For further information, please contact the editor or publisher, or see our Terms and Conditions.

comments powered by Disqus
Coast Reporter

Email to a Friend



Should BC Ferries be returned to a Crown corporation?

or  view results

click here to read the editorial

Popular Coast Reporter

Community Event Calendar

Find out what's happening in your community and submit your own local events.