Caregivers for young children are invited to a weekend of support, ideas and inspiration at the first annual Cariboo Chilcotin early years conference
The conference is set to open its doors in Williams Lake at Thompson Rivers University on Oct. 4-5 and will include keynote speaker Dr. Paul Kershaw, UBC professor described as a one-man road show trying to change Canada one talk at a time.
He argues that change is necessary because Canada no longer works for all generations, and states that focus needs to be on families with young children for the present and the future of our province.
His keynote presentation on Friday at 6:30 p.m. is part of a free community evening that includes food and refreshment and entertainment by Francis Johnson with hoop dancers, drummers and singers.
Workshop facilitators at the conference include Dr. Deborah MacNamara, on faculty at the Neufeld Institute and in private practice offering counselling and educational services. Her workshop is ‘Tears, Turmoil and Turmoil,’ offering practical, proven advice on how to deal with frustration in children.
Jamie Waterlow, director of child and youth programs at the Langara Family YMCA with discuss how to overcome disabilities and showcase laughter as the best medicine, and a ‘caring for the caregiver’ presentation will be offered by Kiersten Bevelander, from the BC Aboriginal Child Society. Participants will also learn about red flags and tough conversations when it comes to talking with parents.
Vendors will set up in the open hall area at TRU with things like learning toys, books, cultural and craft items.
The conference represents a partnership between Child Care Resource and Referral, Children First and Success by 6 in 100 Mile House and Williams Lake, and workshop topics were requested by a team of 20 people, including educators and child workers from First Nation communities and other agencies.
Paul Kershaw said that he’s looking forward to his first visit to Williams Lake and to talking to the community about the generation of people raising young kids right now whose standard of living is in decline.
“Household income for young families have not gone up since the 1970s,” he said. “With their stalled household incomes, they still need to pay for higher housing costs; they are squeezed for time at home, squeezed for income after costs like housing and for services like child care.
“In Canada it’s easier now to retire and it’s harder to raise a young families: we’ve brought down the senior poverty rate 29 per cent from 1976 and today it’s less than five percent.”
He explains that it’s time for B.C. and Canada to put “Generation X and Y” on the radar along with our aging population. “There are large organizations making the case that we need to invest in retirees, but no organizations are making the case that we need to invest in young children — we need to balance that.”
Young people in B.C. face wages that are up to four dollars an hour less than other provinces, despite having post-secondary education, according to Kershaw. “They face huge housing prices; we need to make it possible for Generation X and Y to provide for the family they have or the one they hope to have.”
For more information about the workshop phone Child Care Resource and Referral at 250-392-4118.