On October 1, 2010, the Weeneebayko Health Ahtuskaywin integrated with the James Bay General Hospital to become the Weeneebayko Area Health Authority (WAHA) — a public hospital, under the Public Hospitals Act, in the Province of Ontario.
At present, the Weeneebayko Area Health Authority is in a five-year transfer agreement with the federal government, Weeneebayko Area Health Integration Framework Agreement (WAHIFA). Signatories to the WAHIFA include The Corporation of the Town of Moosonee, MoCreebec Non-Profit Development Corporation, Fort Albany First Nation, Attawapiskat First Nation, Kashechewan First Nation, Weenusk First Nation. It oversees the management of hospital facilities, its buildings and lands.
History of Hospital in Moose Factory
In 1950, the Moose Factory Indian and Inuit Hospital was constructed as a tuberculosis facility, funded with federal government dollars and built in the shape of the Cross of Lorraine. It was a 200-bed facility treating patients from as far away as the Northwest Territories and providing hospital services to the east and west coasts of the James and Hudson Bays. Over the years, the treatment of tuberculosis took on a different treatment plan and hospitals such as this were no longer required.
In 1966, to better reflect evolving times, the name of the hospital was changed to the Moose Factory General Hospital (MFGH). MFGH then became the regional facility providing hospital services to the communities of western James Bay. In 1996, services were transferred from the federal government under Health Canada to a locally appointed and controlled Board of Directors under the Weeneebayko Health Ahtuskaywin; however, it remained funded by Health Canada with some provincial funding for James Bay Ambulance Services, Weeneebayko Diabetes Health Education Program, Dental Services and the Community Mental Health Program.
History of James Bay General Hospital
James Bay General Hospital was formed in 1969 from hospitals built and funded by the Roman Catholic Church in the early 1900s. These hospitals were constructed in Moosonee, Fort Albany and Attawapiskat. In 1969, a fire at the Assumption (Moosonee) Hospital demolished the facility and during that time, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Province of Ontario, began working on the transfer of land and health services to Ontario. Subsequent to this transfer, new facilities were built in Attawapiskat (1985), Fort Albany (1987) and Moosonee (1993) under the Province of Ontario.
WAHA Sites and Health Canada Nursing Stations
Moosonee Health Centre
The Moosonee Health Centre provides 24/7 access to emergency care, outpatient services and weekday clinics by doctors from the Weeneebayko General Hospital. Medical emergencies are transferred to WGH, Timmins and District Hospital or Kingston General Hospital.
Weeneebayko General Hospital (WGH)
The Weeneebayko General Hospital (WGH), a 37-bed facility is located on Moose Factory Island and provides regional medical coverage to the James and Hudson Bay communities. WGH provides acute (temporary) and alternate levels of care as well as 24 hour emergency services; family medicine and coastal outreach. Medical emergencies are transferred to Timmins and District Hospital or Kingston General Hospital. The Weeneebayko region has a long standing history with Queen’s University/Kingston General Hospital, with residencies for medical students and other health care professionals, that continues to this very day.
Additional services offered at WGH include:
- A Regional Mental Health program that serves all communities
- Occupational therapy and physiotherapy
- General surgery and anesthesia
- Traditional Healing Program
- Specialty clinics in the fields of pediatrics, obstetrics, gynecology, rheumatology, ophthalmology, and neurology
Fort Albany Hospital
The Fort Albany Hospital, a 17 inpatient bed facility, provides access to 24/7 care. Registered Nurses are available for emergency room services and they have access to physicians for consults. Medical emergencies are transferred to WGH, Timmins and District Hospital or Kingston General Hospital.
The Attawapiskat Hospital, a 15 inpatient bed facility, provides access to 24/7 care. Registered Nurses are available for emergency room services and they are able to contact physicians for consults. Medical emergencies are transferred to WGH, Timmins and District Hospital or Kingston General Hospital.
Kashechewan Nursing Station
Kashechewan Nursing Station is managed and operated by Health Canada, First Nation and Inuit Health Branch. Weeneebayko Area Health Authority works in partnership with the Nursing Station to provide physician care, ambulance services, rehabilitation services, diabetes health education, traditional healing, dental services, community mental health services, and provides the maintenance, supplies and equipment to support the operations of the Health Centre through contribution agreements with Health Canada.
Peawanuck Nursing Station
Peawanuck Nursing Station is managed and operated by Health Canada, First Nation and Inuit Health Branch. Weeneebayko Area Health Authority works in partnership with the Nursing Station to provide physician care, support to the First Responders Station, rehabilitation services, diabetes health education, traditional healing, dental services, community mental health services, and provides the maintenance, supplies and equipment to support the operations of the Health Centre through contribution agreements with Health Canada.
Histories of James Bay Communities
Town of Moosonee
The Town of Moosonee lies on the southern border of the James Bay Lowland eco-region with a population of 3,500. Moosonee came into existence at the turn of the century when, in 1900, Annie Hardisty and her two daughters became the first settlers on the site. The James Bay region is rich in fur trading history; in 1903 Revillon Frères set up their trading post, to compete with their main rival, the Hudson Bay Company, which had already established their trading post on the island of Moose Factory in 1673.
Moosonee operates as a municipality, and it not a first nation, but the majority of its residents are Aboriginal (about 70%) having settled from coastal First Nations of James Bay and Hudson Bay region, i.e. Fort Albany, Kashechewan, Attawapiskat, Peawanuck and Moose Factory.
Moose Factory is an island situated across from the mainland of Moosonee with a population of 3,153. Moose Factory is accessible by boat and barge in the summer, a temporary ice road in the winter and by helicopter during the break-up and freeze-up periods. All other methods of transportation are located in the Town of Moosonee (train station and airport). During the winter months, there is a road (Wetum Road) connecting Moose Factory to Smooth Rock Falls, Ontario.
Fort Albany First Nation
Established in 1679, Fort Albany First Nation is located on the southern shore of the Albany River with a population of 946. Fort Albany is located 164 kilometres from Moosonee and is accessible by air, winter road or through the waters of James Bay and the Albany River. Along with Rupert House and Moose Factory, Fort Albany was one of the oldest and most important Hudson’s Bay Company posts.
Attawapiskat First Nation
Attawapiskat First Nation has a population of 1,884 and is located at the mouth of the Attawapiskat River, 269 kilometres from Moosonee. Attawapiskat is accessible only by air during the spring to fall months and by winter road. Traditional harvesting continues to play an integral role for local people who regularly hunt caribou, goose, and fish along the Attawapiskat River, while tending trap lines throughout the region.
Weenusk First Nation (Peawanuck)
Peawanuck is located 523 kilometers north of Moosonee and has a population of 268; it is the most northernly community serviced by Weeneebayko Area Health Authority. Peawanuck was originally known as Weenusk. In 1986, there was a major flood causing the community of Weenusk to re-locate and be rebuilt up river on higher ground. A new Health Centre was constructed at that time. The new settlement was renamed Peawanuck, meaning ” in the Cree language. Major access to the community is via plane. In the winter months individuals can travel on an ice road to Fort Severn First Nation, Shamattawa or Gilliam Manitoba.
Kashechewan First Nation
Kashechewan First Nation has a population of 1930. The community is located along the north shore of the Albany River. Kashechewan is one of two communities that were established from the old Fort Albany in the 1950’s. The other community is Fort Albany located on the southern bank of the Albany River. The community is accessible by plane and does not have access to year round roadways. In the winter months there is an ice road connecting Kashechewan to Fort Albany, Attawapiskat, Moose Factory and Moosonee.