Primary care clinic expands in Saanich for urban Indigenous people

Primary care clinic expands in Saanich for urban Indigenous people

Indigenous people living on South Vancouver Island have access to a newly expanded primary care clinic, staffed with family doctors, nurse practitioners, registered nurses and medical office assistants.

The Victoria Native Friendship Centre (VNFC), which ran the clinic at another smaller location for two decades, recently moved the clinic to 209-2951 Tillicum Rd. to expand the care and access for Indigenous people.

“We are excited to offer this new safe space for Urban Indigenous Healthcare, which is desperately needed by our community, as we begin to understand the prevalence of discrimination and racism in the healthcare system” said Ron Rice – Wush’q, VNFC executive director.

“This important step, Indigenous ownership of health services, is the culmination of many years of effort, partnership, and perseverance in Indigenous Healthcare.”

In 2020, the report “In Plain Sight” punctuated the systemic racism Indigenous people face within B.C. health care.

“One of the ways to change that is to change who’s in charge,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix at a press conference unveiling the new space.

The Ministry of Health, through Island Health, is providing funding for the annual operating costs, putting up $2.04 million annually to fund the Friendship Centre’s Primary Care Centre in addition to a $2.91 million one-time investment. The new care centre will allow 2,700 more patients to access primary care.

The clinic expansion means the number of patients attached to this clinic will grow in capacity from 1,800 to 4,500 patients.

The province says when the clinic is fully staffed in September it will have five nurse practitioners, two family doctors, eight Indigenous wellness providers and two registered nurses.

The clinic will integrate with other wellness and health services offered by VNFC, like mental health supports and cultural services, like access to Elders and traditional knowledge keepers.

“We are pleased that the Victoria Native Friendship Centre is significantly expanding its services to ensure more equitable access to primary care for Victoria area Indigenous patients,” said Leah Hollins, Island Health board chair. “The importance of providing comprehensive, culturally safe care cannot be over-emphasized.”

RELATED: Loss of Canadian Heritage funding undermines Indigenous language revitalization program in Victoria

Watch a recent episode of Our Native Land, highlighting the programs offered by the Victoria Native Friendship Centre below:

Laura BroughamLaura Brougham
Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!