After working in early childhood education for about 30 years, with 20 of those years spent in aboriginal programs, Pam Moore said she thought it would be a great idea to bring aboriginal awareness to childcare centres in School District 69.
Childcare centres in the region will now be able to borrow aboriginal-based kits geared toward three-to six-year-olds through the Qualicum First Nation Childcare Centre.
Moore said she had previously worked at a place that had put in a request for funding for education on aboriginal awareness, and when she started working at the Qualicum Childcare Centre, she said she decided to expand on that.
“I thought that’s a great idea to bring aboriginal awareness into the community because a lot of the centres don’t have access to those resources or even have the knowledge of what those resources would be,” Moore said.
Moore said the funding for the kits starts in May, and they’ve been working on the kits for about four months. She said they hired cultural people from other nations to come in and provide consultation as to what would go into the kits.
Moore said there are 10 kits which include a Coast Salish, Land Animals, Sea Animals, Seven Sacred Teachings and Nature and Outdoors.
“The kits contain probably 20 to 30 books based on the theme of the kit,” Moore said. “We try and put about 20 to 25 children’s books and five books that are resource materials for the educators.”
Along with the books, the kits contain toys and activities and supplies for arts and crafts that will be restocked once the kits are returned.
“It’s not like we say, ‘Oh, you’re going to build a teepee, but you need to go buy this, this and this.’ It’s all included in the kit,” Moore said.
Moore said the kits can be borrowed by any childcare centre in the region. The centres can also put in a request for a cultural educator and an elder to come in a team to show them how to use anything in the kit or provide cultural expertise.
“A lot of centres, they don’t have the finances to go out and buy all these aboriginal materials when they may only have one, two or three aboriginal children in their program, so theses kits are great if they don’t have that financial outlay, they can borrow kits,” Moore said.
All of the kits, Moore said, have a cultural focus and are aboriginal-based.
“It helps that child feel inclusive within the program that their culture is being honoured in the programs without a huge financial expenditure,” she said.
However, Moore said the kits are designed for everyone.
“This kits were actually designed to be used within a non-aboriginal setting, so they’re very user-friendly and inclusive of all the children in the program,” she said. “It not only has a sense of belonging for the aboriginal children within the program, but for the non-aboriginal children, it teaches them acceptance and tolerance and it’s just part of the program.”
Yesterday (Monday, Nov. 7), they had a launch for the kits which gave local early childhood educators a chance to see what is in the kits and to book them for their classes.
“We’ve had interest from educators and teachers coming from Nanoose, Bowser, Qualicum and all over the Oceanside community,” said Moore, adding that they ended up capping the event at 100 people.
Moore said the kits are part of funding through the Ministry of Children and Family Development. Five of the kits were paid for by Aboriginal Service Innovations, while the other five were paid for by Success by 6, both of which are under the umbrella of the ministry.
Moore said the Qualicum First Nation band council and chief has been “paramount in getting this off the ground” as well.
“That’s been amazing to have that kind of support to allow us to do this program,” she said. “Because it’s community-based, they’ve given us a lot of support, yet the benefits are going into the community. They’re not staying right here on the reserve.”
To find out more about the kits or to book one, contact Moore at the Qualicum Childcare Centre at 250-757-8092.