Funding has been approved to provide 24 new licensed daycare spaces in two First Nation communities in the Cariboo Chilcotin.
Last week the Minister of Children and Family Development Katrine Conroy and Minister of State for Child Care Katrina Chen announced that Yunesit’in and Xeni Gwet’in Governments were awarded the funds.
“Providing quality child care that honours the culture and tradition of Indigenous families is a priority for our government,” Conroy said.
The Yunesit’in Government in Hanceville is receiving $500,000 to create 16 spaces – eight for infants and toddlers, and eight for children aged three to five years — at the Yunesit’in Early Learning Centre.
The Xeni Gwet’in First Nation in Nemiah Valley is receiving $500,000 to create eight infant and toddler spaces at Charlene William Daycare.
Yunesit’in Chief Russell Myers Ross said presently there is work being done in the community with children around early language development through the Language Nest.
“We’ve applied for daycare funding before a few times,” he said. “This was our third try. We weren’t struck out, which is nice.”
The plan is to build a completely new facility to provide more services for families and support early childhood development, Myers Ross said, noting the building project will provide labour work for community members who are enroled in a construction education program that is in its third year at Yunesit’in.
With the summer’s wildfires, renovation work on the community’s band-run school was delayed so presently the school children are attending classes in portables.
By the end of February, the work should be completed and the students will be able to used the school and gym and the labourers can switch to working on the new day care.
“We have some carpenters in their second year working toward their Red Seal,” Myers Ross said. “We are trying to stay as active as we can to have construction projects so our guys can get their full training.”
Xeni Gwet’in health director Annie Williams said the day care funding will go to replace an older building used to house the Charlene William Daycare.
“Right now we have two trailers put together and they’ve been there for at least 20 years,” Williams told the Tribune. “It’s been a long-time coming to get a new building.”
There have been renovations done to the trailers, but they didn’t fix the overall structure, she explained, noting the new daycare could be housed closer to Naghtaneqed School, but no decisions on location have been made yet.
On any given day there can be as many as 11 children at the day care so it will be nice to have a bigger space.
“Right now our daycare worker makes do,” Williams said.