The Government of Nova Scotia announced a new 48-room home named Kiknu, a Mi’kmaw word meaning “our home,” in Eskasoni is the first in the province to be built in a First Nation community.

“This new home will provide more culturally responsive care to Mi’kmaw seniors from across Nova Scotia, giving them a home surrounded by and supported by their community,” said Barbara Adams, Minister of Seniors and Long-Term Care. “The structural and spiritual elements truly represent a community wrapping its arms around its seniors and providing them with an inviting and welcoming place to receive care.”

Mi’kmaw culture has been embedded into many aspects of the home, including the building’s turtle shape, which represents the Indigenous reference to Turtle Island, as North America is known.

The building’s central gathering space includes seven poles, representing the Mi’kmaw districts in the region and the seven sacred teachings of the Mi’kmaq, and a graphical representation of a healing circle, where traditional ceremonies will be held. The design and operations of the home were guided by discussions with elders in the community.

The home is also providing economic opportunities for the people of Eskasoni and surrounding communities, from construction to the delivery of care and programs.

“This facility stands as a testament to our community’s resilience, care and commitment to providing a culturally nurturing environment for our residents. Kiknu embodies our values and traditions, ensuring that our elders receive the respect, love and care they deserve while staying connected to their culture, heritage and, most importantly, community. This is a significant milestone for our community; we have created 75 jobs and are serving our people. I believe it will serve as a beacon of hope and unity for generations to come,”  said Chief Leroy Denny, Eskasoni First Nation.

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The new home is owned by Eskasoni Mi’kmaw Nation. Eskasoni and Shannex, in partnership, will operate and manage the home to reflect the cultural values of the community. The Department of Seniors and Long-Term Care provides the licence to operate the home and an annual operating budget, which covers expenses such as mortgage payments and the staffing required to provide care.

“We’re honoured to support Eskasoni in the creation and opening of this warm, welcoming and culturally significant home for their community. The vast majority of Kiknu team members are from Eskasoni, which makes this home even more special. They will be able to provide exceptional care and support for community elders while keeping Indigenous traditions strong,” said Jason Shannon, president, Shannex.

The Kiknu long-term care home is part of the Province’s multi-year, phased plan that will see 5,700 new and improved single long-term care rooms built by 2032.

“We are proud to celebrate the grand opening of Kiknu with the community in Eskasoni. This facility will be the first of its kind in Nova Scotia to surround elders and seniors with Mi’kmaw culture and traditions while they receive 24-hour care including nursing services, medication management and personal care.”  said Jaime Battiste, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and MP for Sydney–Victoria.

Featured image: The design of Kiknu is in the shape of a turtle, which represents the Indigenous reference to Turtle Island and is part of the seven sacred teachings. (Communications Nova Scotia)

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