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Gitwangak families strengthen culture through new child care spaces

May 16, 2023 at 3:07 pm  BC, News, Politics, Provincial

The Gitwangak community joined together to witness and celebrate the opening of a new child care centre that will welcome more than 50 children and their families.

“I am grateful for the partnership our government has with Gitwangak Band Council and Gitwangak Education Society to deliver new child care that creates much-needed spaces in the community,” said Grace Lore, Minister of State for Child Care. “More than that, this project helps strengthen cultural traditions, revitalize the Gitksen language and provide employment opportunities. It is a great example of how caring for children is at the heart of community well-being.”

The new Wo’umxhl Simalgyex, or “cradle of language,” Daycare was made possible through $2.2 million from the Province’s New Spaces Fund to create 51 spaces for children of all ages. The new daycare replaces an older, smaller centre that was no longer meeting the community’s needs. The centre will be operated by the Gitwangak Education Society in partnership with the Gitwangak Band Council.

“When I think of good child care, I think of our language nest. Not only do our children get to learn how to talk, paint and colour in English but they also get to learn Simalgyax, our Gitksen language,” said parent Serenity Williams. “They get to sing songs with our Elders, watch our traditional preserving and go out on the land to learn hands-on. Kids will get to learn their culture, their language and be in a safe place. This is amazing and an exciting big step for child care.”

The child care centre will provide nutritious, traditional meals for the children, and has a food garden and small smokehouse on the grounds. The centre also has an Elder in residence for traditional values and language learning, and family members are also invited to volunteer at the centre and incorporate language in each teaching. The band is also directly supporting community members through the project by financially supporting them to obtain their early childhood educator training.

“I want to say thank you for the new child care centre, which will benefit the community by creating a haven that will keep the young children safe,” said Hereditary Chief Vernon Smith. “By ensuring the centre uses our Gitksen language, the community as a whole also benefits as we don’t lose our identity.”

Together through the ChildCareBC New Spaces Fund, the Province and the Government of Canada are investing nearly $300 million to fund the creation of new licensed child care spaces in high-need areas throughout B.C. Applicants can continue to apply to open intakes based on budget availability.

“It’s so important that families have access to child care that is not only close to home, but is also culturally sensitive and meets their needs,” said Nathan Cullen, MLA for Stikine. “The Gitwangak Education Society and the Gitwangak Band Council have done such an incredible job creating this space, and I’m so happy to see it come to life.”

Since 2018, the Province has invested $3.9 billion in the 10-year ChildCareBC plan to build access to affordable, quality, inclusive child care with more than 31,800 new child care spaces funded for creation. Of those, approximately 11,800 are open and operational, and the remaining 20,000 are in various stages of construction and development.

Learn More:

For information about the Gitwangak Band: https://gitwangakband.ca/

For information about the ChildCareBC New Spaces Fund and how to apply:

https://www.gov.bc.ca/childcare/newspacesfund  

To learn about ChildCareBC, visit: https://www.gov.bc.ca/childcare

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