Performers with the Hesquiaht Dancers dance troupe were a major part of the festivities at Friday’s grand opening event for Tillicum Lelum’s new $2-million child care centre in Nanaimo. (CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin)

Tillicum Lelum hosts grand opening for new child care centre

Open house event held for $2 million facility on Tenth Street

Tillicum Lelum hosted the grand opening today for its new childcare centre Thi Lelum Smuneen – A Big House for New Generations.

There were speeches, food and festivities Friday, March 9, for an afternoon event that drew dozens of parents and supporters who turned out to view the new $2-million facility on Tenth Street that got construction underway in November 2016 after receiving a $500,000 grant from B.C.’s Ministry of Child and Family Development.

The child care centre was created to provide more and better services for children. Its priority is to provide improved services for aboriginal children and families, but it is open to everyone regardless of race, religion or status.

“Having such a beautiful building just gives a lot of pride to kids and families who attend here, which isn’t always the case when they’re going to access services,” said Tammie Myles, childcare centre project manager.

The centre is currently licensed to handle 24 children ages 3-5 and 20 five-to-12-year-olds. The centre is also preparing to gear up to handle up to 12 toddlers and there are already potential plans in the works to expand the facility’s child care capacity.

“This is exactly what we want to see right across the province … It’s incredible. It’s a real asset to the community of Nanaimo and, I think to the surrounding community as well,” said Katherine Conroy, minister of children and family development.

Conroy said the facility is important, adding that children learn the most from birth to age five, a time when they are developing learning and social skills that will prepare them for school.

“That’s the most important years for kids’ learning, so to have a place like this to come to and have a head-start program for them to come to is just an incredible opportunity for them to get them ready for school,” Conroy said.

The event featured entertainment by the Hesquiaht Dancers.

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