Huu-ay-aht First Nations is pleased to announce it has been awarded $763,924.33 from the Province of British Columbia’s Childcare B.C. New Spaces funding.
This grant will allow the Nation to create 24 new spaces at the Oomiiqsu Childcare Centre, which will be housed at the proposed Oomiiqsu Mother Centre in Port Alberni. The site will be located at 4305 Kendall Ave once complete and offer services to Huu-ay-aht and other Nuu-chah-nulth families.
The Oomiiqsu Childcare Centre will be an integral part of Oomiiqsu Mother Centre, and priority for the spaces will be given to children residing in centre. Of the 24 spaces, eight will be for children 36 Months and Under and 16 will be for children 30 Months to School Age.
“We are grateful to receive this grant from the province because it enables us to move forward on this exciting project,” says Huu-ay-aht Councillor Edward R. Johnson. “This has been a collaborative effort from the start. I am very thankful for the team and am truly honoured to have witnessed this journey. It is so important to our Nation to bring more of our children home as that honours our Ancient Spirit and Modern Mind.”
Elders and other community members will teach Nuu-chah-nulth language and prepare traditional foods with the children. Traditions, ceremonies, songs, drumming dance and crafts will be shared and taught by Huu-ay-aht First Nations Elders/community members and staff as well as other Nuu-chah-nulth Nations.
“We honour our Ancient Spirit and Modern Mind when we find ways to keep our youth safe and in an environment that nurtures traditional learning at all ages, just as our ancestors taught us,” explains Huu-ay-aht Tayii Ḥaw̓ił ƛiišin (Head Hereditary Chief Derek Peters). “By doing so, we are following our Sacred Principles of ʔiisaak (Utmost Respect), ʔuuʔałuk (Taking Care of), and Hišuk ma c̕awak (Everything is One).”
Mothers will be welcome at the centre and strongly encouraged to participate in the childcare program. Parenting support will be offered as well, and programming will support children and their mothers to build strong cultural identities that will connect them to their larger families and communities.
The land on Kendall Avenue has been purchased by BC Housing, and a Rezoning Application has been submitted to the City of Port Alberni. A public hearing was held on May 13. There were no objections voiced at the meeting, and the matter will be addressed by Port Alberni City Council at a future meeting. Construction is set to begin in April 2021 and the Oomiiqsu Childcare Centre will open in September 2023.