Chief Ben Weenie spent his entire life helping others, especially for mental health.
So when the board of directors of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Battlefords asked the Battlefords Agency Tribal Chiefs to help name their new building it seemed only fitting to honour him according to executive director Neil Sasakamoose.
“He was a man who spent his whole life with his heart in his hand," Sasakamoose said. “He once told me you could have everything in the world; but if you didn’t have a heart you had nothing.”
The CMHA officially opened their new building on Thursday with dignitaries, clients, staff and those who contributed to making the building a reality in attendance.
The organization was forced to relocate when the former location became too small after the location doubled its work programs in 2014.
Last year CMHA Battlefords purchased the former Lion’s Den on 103 St. with the help of the “Make Room for Mental Health Campaign” which sought to raise $610,000 for the building and its upgrades.
The official name of the facility is Kahkakiw Nakateyimisowin Wellness Centre. The name Kahkakiw is the Cree name of Chief Weenie meaning “Raven” and Nakateyimisowin is Cree for “he nurtures himself”.
“After 10 years of servicing the Battlefords by putting money into projects, this is the very first time an organization has asked us to name a building,” Sasakamoose said. “That really got to me and we are very honoured that we can do this for my friend and mentor.”
CMHA Battlefords Executive Director Jane Zielke de Montbrun couldn’t hide her emotions as the ribbon was cut to officially open the facility.
“It’s such an overwhelming experience to see this building finally become a reality,” Zielke de Montbrun said. “It just seems like yesterday that we as a board sat down and envisioned having our own facility like this and now here it is.”
Chief Weenie’s family was on hand to unveil the official sign that will welcome visitors to the new mental health facility and to daughter Pamela Peterson it was a fitting tribute to her father.
“We were very honoured when we were asked to have this building named in honour of my late father,” Pamela Peterson, daughter of Chief Ben Weenie, said. ”He would have been so proud and humbled by all this attention.”
The Canadian Mental Health Association Battlefords branch is a volunteer-based organization which supports and promotes the rights of persons with mental illness to maximize their full potential; and promotes and enhances the mental health and well-being of all members of the community.
For more information on CMHA Battlefords drop by their new headquarters at 1602 103 St. North Battleford.
On Twitter: @RJWtheReporter
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