The first fully licensed child care centre in Gitlaxt’aamiks (New Aiyansh) in the Nass Valley will be open this fall.
“We know it can be challenging for families in Indigenous communities to find child care that meets their needs,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development, in a news release. “The Nass Child Care Centre will provide culturally inclusive, quality child care that honours the traditions of the Nisga’a and supports children and families in the Nass Valley.”
The province is providing $492,585 under its Childcare BC New Spaces Fund to help School District 92 create the new Nass Child Care Centre, which will provide 32 new licensed child care spaces – 12 for infants and toddlers and 20 for children aged 30 months to school age.
“For a number of years, there have been aspirations to bring a fully licensed child care centre to the community of Gitlaxt’aamiks for all the parents of the four Nisga’a communities in School District 92,” said Elsie Davis, school district board chair. “This new facility will give parents peace of mind and allow them to continue to be productive contributors to our school district and our communities.”
The centre will be operated by the district and is expected to open in time for the new school year in September 2019.
Nisga’a culture will be built into every aspect of early learning provided at the centre. Elders will regularly visit the centre to share oral history with the children and provide teachings in traditional languages, helping to preserve and pass down Nisga’a practices. Children will also benefit from a free hot meal program that promotes healthy eating.
“The new Nass Child Care Centre will certainly be beneficial for many young Nisga’a families in the Nass Valley who are seeking to further their education or enter the workforce,” said Eva Clayton, president of the Nisga’a Lisims Government. “The close proximity to the schools and the Nation’s institutions will also prove beneficial to our young families.”
Construction is already underway to convert former student residences that the district owns into the bright, new child care centre. A convenient location for many, the centre will be minutes from Nisga’a Elementary and Secondary school and a short drive to the local college and medical clinic.