Twenty-four Indigenous students in the Cowichan Valley will gain culturally relevant skills and knowledge to provide specialized early childhood care in their community.
The custom-designed program is a partnership between the Cowichan Tribes, the Stz’uminus First Nation and Vancouver Island University (VIU). Over the three-year program, students will receive adult basic education upgrading, Hul’qu’minum language learning and a diploma in early childhood education.
The Snuw’uy’ulh Sqwaluwun Smun’eem (Children of our Community) early childhood education and care (ECEC) program includes working with Elders to connect traditional teachings with classroom learnings, tutoring services and help from employment support co-ordinators in transitioning to employment.
The $815,000 funding for the program is a partnership between the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, and the Ministry of Children and Family Development.
The funding announced is in addition to the $1-billion child care investment announced by the British Columbia government in Budget 2018, which will go toward boosting training and development supports for child care professionals, and addressing the issues of recruitment and retention in the sector.
Investing in programs like this is consistent with B.C.’s commitment to advancing true, lasting reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, and to implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action.
Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training –
“We need more Indigenous early childhood educators in Indigenous communities. Investing in spaces for Indigenous learners advances reconciliation, by giving people the tools to further their education and get fulfilling jobs that create a brighter future for their communities. I’m proud to be part of a government that is implementing the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.”
Katrina Chen, Minister of State for Child Care –
“We are choosing to invest in Indigenous educators to provide culturally appropriate care, as a key element of our Childcare BC plan. We want to support Indigenous communities, to give future generations a strong start that values their communities and cultural origins. This funding is one of many investments under our plan that will help Indigenous communities to deliver quality care that is specific to their needs.”
Carey McRae (Clint), child care manager, early childhood education, Nutsumaat Lelum Childcare Center, Stz’uminus First Nation –
“The current early childhood education field is in a crisis, with a lack of qualified early childhood educators to fill the many positions that the B.C. government is creating with the Child Care Major Capital Program. The current students at VIU will have an opportunity to work in a growing field that has endless opportunities, and will soon have many positions to fill. The positive and supportive relationship with VIU will give our students the confidence to succeed and complete the ECEC program.”
Char Crocker, director, Quw'utsun Syuw'entst Lelum', Cowichan Tribes –
"Cowichan Tribes Education and Vancouver Island University maintain a positive and successful working relationship. The current need for early childhood educators is growing, as our Cowichan Tribes daycare continues to grow. It is wonderful for our students to have the opportunity to participate in the ECEC program."
Warren Weir, academic administrator, Cowichan campus, Vancouver Island University –
“One of VIU’s core values is to work closely with First Nations in the areas we serve, to provide culturally relevant and supportive educational opportunities. This new funding supports that core value, allowing us to create educational opportunities for Indigenous students that will provide participants with the skills to give back and support their community. We are very pleased and honoured to continue our work with Cowichan Tribes and the Stz’uminus First Nation partners in the offering of this early childhood education and care program.”
Sonia Furstenau, MLA for Cowichan Valley –
“I am delighted that children in my riding will have access to quality early childhood education that is designed in partnership with the Cowichan Tribes and the Stz’uminus First Nation. This funding will go a long way to ensuring B.C.’s early childhood education advances reconciliation, while also giving children the best possible head start.”