Work on the Qualicum First Nation’s after-school care centre will begin next week, according to the child-care program co-ordinator.
The Qualicum First Nation, along with Mid Island-Pacific Rim MLA Scott Fraser, held the official groundbreaking for the centre Friday morning, March 9.
Funding for the child-care centre was announced in December of 2017. The QFN received $500,000 from the provincial government as part of a $33-million investment through the province’s Child Care Major Capital Funding program.
The half-million dollars will go toward building the new centre to house the after-school care program, which would be licensed for 24 children and would serve the Bowser Elementary School catchment area.
The new building will be built adjacent to the QFN’s existing daycare centre.
Carrie Reid, a QFN member, said to the crowd at the groundbreaking that the new building will be built on what was “sort of an old trading trail to Port Alberni.
“This is known land. This has been used forever… I want to acknowledge that, that this has been here forever and that our people have walked on this land forever. There is no beginning and no end.”
Reid said the land had been logged at the turn of the last century.
“We don’t let that happen anymore unless we have a good reason, and really, I think our children are the best reason ever,” Reid said.
At Friday’s groundbreaking, Pam Moore, QFN child-care program co-ordinator, told The NEWS that excavation on the site will take place next week, and the QFN is planning a Sept. 1 opening for the facility.
“It will be a very fast process that we’re going to have to go through to get up and running,” she said.
During the event, Moore thanked the Qualicum First Nation chief and council “for being so supportive of the daycare centre, the child-care services, the family services. Without their support none of this would be possible.”
Chief Michael Recalma was unable to attend the event due to health issues.
Moore also thanked Bowser Elementary School principal Kevin McKee and Oceanside Building Learning Together manager Judi Malcolm.
“These two people wrote very nice support letters in our application (to the government for funding),” she said. “It will serve not only the Qualicum First Nation, but the entire community.”
The families that have children that go to Bowser elementary, Moore said, are very excited that there’s going to be a local after-school program servicing the school.
The funding for the facility, Fraser said, is part of the government’s committment for affordable child care in the province.
“We believe it’s a right,” he said. “It benefits families first and foremost, it benefits communities and also benefits the economy of this great province. We know that the child care here is needed. It’s going to help the whole region.”