David Hansen, community organizer of Kermode Friendship Society, leads a smudge ceremony at the society’s sod turning blessing ceremony for its new daycare and office building.

Aboriginal daycare construction begins with a blessing

Kermode Friendship Society’s long-awaited daycare will welcome aboriginal and non-aboriginal children

Kermode Friendship Society dignitaries and guests celebrated the beginning of construction of a long-awaited daycare and office building with a blessing today, July 7.

They gathered at the site situated at 4717 Park Ave. in between Davis and Park Ave., next to the new Sleeping Beauty Estates.

“This will definitely meet our needs,” said Kermode Friendship Society executive director Calvin Albright after the event, which included a smudge ceremony and comments from society board representative Nirmal Parmar, mayor Carol Leclerc, and Skeena MLA Ellis Ross among others.

“We’re excited to make a difference in children’s young lives, so by the time they get to school, they will be more successful,” added Albright.

Similar to the Kermode Friendship Centre, the daycare will be inclusive, open to all families and children.

Ross said the building is a good thing for everybody.

“When I see these types of projects, I know how much work goes into it,” said Ellis.

“I’m really glad to see that an organization like this is providing the service for everybody.”

Mayor Carol Leclerc said it was a pretty awesome day for the city.

“There are daycares in Terrace and we’re grateful for them because it allows parents to go and work, but to have a First Nations daycare with that culture wrapped into their day-to-day lives I think is awesome,” said Leclerc.

“The beauty is it’s not just for First Nations’ children so these young people will grow up intertwined in First Nations’ culture from birth so it’s a fabulous day.”

The plans for the almost one-acre lot include an 8,600 sq.ft. L-shaped building and includes parking and an outdoors space, which will have kids’ play equipment.

The building will house the daycare, as well as friendship centre offices and a commercial kitchen.

Kermode staff will move from their current offices on Kalum Street into the new building, and the kitchen will be used for a food program.

The total cost to build is $2.9 million. Kermode has received a $500,000 capital grant from the Ministry of Children and Family Development.

Kermode also got a grant from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to buy a new 40-passenger bus, which will be used to pick up and drop off kids in the daycare.

Progressive Ventures will be constructing the new building and will ensure 20 per cent of the construction hours go to Aboriginal people.