Aamjiwnaang First Nation Chief Joanne Rogers.

By Colin Graf

AAMJIWNAANG FIRST NATION—Chief and Council of Aamjiwnaang First Nation hope to create their first Elders’ care residence on the territory within the next 18 months.

A committee of Chief, Councilors, and officials is starting to review past plans for a residence designed to keep Elders needing special care on the First Nation’s land, Chief Joanne Rogers told the Anishinabek News.

“Elders shouldn’t have to leave the community. They’re sad. They don’t want to leave,” said Rogers, drawing a comparison to the experience of past generations of First Nations, being uprooted as children to attend residential schools.

Plans for a residence “ran into a snag” in the past with figuring out how to provide water and sewer connections for such a building, but a new agreement on these matters with Sarnia’s Mayor and Council may make this easier to solve now, according to Rogers.

The facility will probably have 4-6 beds and may provide for both Elders who need round-the-clock care and those who don’t. One site being considered is adding on to the existing senior’s residential complex on Virgil Ave.

Aamjiwnaang has many activities for seniors, and if Elders needing care are moved to a nursing home in nearby Sarnia, they may lose the opportunity to participate in those events, Rogers said.

“First Nations are close-knit communities and everybody’s affected when somebody has to leave,” she added.

The next step will be to set up a community task force that will conduct a feasibility study, Rogers said. Creating a long-term care residence was one of four priorities she named after being elected Chief in July 2016.