By Sarah Artis
BY spring 2018, downtown Terrace will have its first aboriginal-centred daycare, and if all goes according to plan, the new facility will cost less than other care providers in town.
Cal Albright, executive director of the Kermode Friendship Society, is spearheading the project, set for completion next March.
“It’s going to be a skookum daycare. It’s going to be brand new,” he said. “It’s going to be a very northwest aboriginal looking building, reflecting the local culture.”
Forty children, ages zero to five, will be able to attend. That includes 10 spots for babies under two-years-old.
“A lot of people don’t take [children] under two in town,” Albright said.
The news follows the provincial announcement of increased daycare spaces, something aided with the assistance of federal money.
About 10 employees will be needed. To train future staff, Kermode will be offering an Early Childhood Education (ECE) program over the next few months. The course, offered through an agreement with the Native Education Centre, is set to begin on Aug.15.
“We’ll promote it and get the students,” said Albright. While rates have not yet been finalized for the daycare, Albright’s plan is to have a sliding scale.
“I really want it to be affordable. The clients we cater to, daycare is a barrier for them. We think offering an affordable daycare will encourage people to put their kids in, and participate in the labour economy and go to school.”
“It’s going to be a non-profit, a social enterprise,” he added.
The total cost to build is $2.9 million. Kermode has received a $500,000 grant from the Ministry of Children and Family Development, and is looking for funding partners.
“We are in discussions with local First Nations, businesses and foundations who may want to support some of the costs,” Albright said.
“If I can raise money, I’ll be able to bring the rates down.”
Kermode has not yet decided on a name for the daycare, partly in case a large donation includes the name as part of the deal.
Similar to the Kermode Friendship Centre, the daycare will be inclusive, open to all families and children.
However, Albright said, “we know that in the aboriginal community, if we can help raise the children, they will be more likely to succeed when they start school. We’ll be reinforcing who they are as a little aboriginal person.”
The address of the new facility is 4717 Park Avenue, next door to Sleeping Beauty Estates.
Kermode bought the land in 2007, when prices were low.
They had considered building social housing, but in 2013, Albright completed a business plan for a daycare as part of his Masters of Business Administration.
Plans for the almost one-acre lot include an 8,600 sq.ft. L-shaped building.
It also includes parking and an outdoors space, which will have kids’ play equipment.
The building will house the daycare, as well as 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.
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 children who will be attending the daycare.
Albright says Kermode met with builders for almost two years before finally deciding in January 2017 to go with Progressive Ventures.
Their deal with Progressive includes a requirement that 20 per cent of the construction hours must go to aboriginal people.
“So that’s pretty great,” Albright said.
A sod-turning ceremony is planned for Friday, July 7 at 10 a.m.