By Brittney Pastion of CFWE-FM
Today, Alberta Minister of Children’s Services Danielle Larivee celebrated six early learning and childcare centres across the province that are implementing Indigenous-focused programming, which includes traditional drumming, storytelling and language lessons in Michif, Blackfoot and Cree.
The minister says the children’s experience in the centres will create a sense of belonging and identity for Indigenous children while providing a chance for non-Indigenous students to learn. The centres offer $25-a-day child care.
Little Sundance Daycare in Calgary is one of the six centres implementing the traditional teachings built into everyday programs. In addition to Calgary, the other five locations include a centre each in Lethbridge, Edmonton, Slave Lake, Valleyview and Wetaskiwin.
“Canada and Alberta are committed, and understand the value of early learning and childcare… ensuring that our centres include cultural programming,” said Larivee.
The first phase of the centres was provincially funded to the tune of $10 million and a second phase will be federally-funded for an expansion of 6,000 new spaces. The pilot program is the result of a bilateral agreement with Canada with an investment of $136 million over three years.
A project that the minister is particularly excited about is supporting licensed First Nation day care centres on-reserve. The first being opened on Kapawe'no First Nation, located 387 kilometers northwest of Edmonton.
A licensed day care centre means that parents are eligible to apply for the provincial childcare subsidy and the program could apply for accreditation funding.
First Nations in Alberta could take advantage of the opportunity and benefit by becoming licensed childcare centres, said Larivee.
“We're going to make a big difference in terms of that exposure to Indigenous culture and language.”
Reconciliation doesn't happen without understanding, Larivee said.