Na­tive child-care in works for Toronto

City to de­velop more cul­tur­ally ap­pro­pri­ate pro­gram­ming

StarMetro Toronto - - NEWS - Gil­bert Ngabo Metro | Toronto

As part of its re­sponse to the Truth and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Com­mis­sion’s calls to ac­tion, Toronto is look­ing to im­prove child-care ser­vices for In­dige­nous fam­i­lies.

A re­port adopted at Mon­day’s com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment and re­cre­ation com­mit­tee meet­ing de­tails a plan to in­crease the num­ber of “cul­tur­ally rel­e­vant” child-care spa­ces. The Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion has ear­marked up to $93 mil­lion for this ex­pan­sion across the province over the next two years, ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

Toronto Chil­dren’s Ser­vices is cur­rently work­ing in part­ner­ship with the Toronto Abo­rig­i­nal Sup­port Ser­vices Coun­cil to as­sess the needs of the com­mu­nity be­fore sub­mit­ting the pro­posal for fund­ing to the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion.

Based on ini­tial feed­back, the plan is to open In­dige­nous early-years cen­tres in four neigh­bour­hoods with a higher con­cen­tra­tion of In­dige­nous fam­i­lies: Mount Den­nis, West Don Lands, East York and Scar­bor­ough. There would also be a cen­tre fo­cused on serv­ing two-spir­ited chil­dren and fam­i­lies in the down­town core, as well as mobile child and fam­ily pro­grams across the city.

The fi­nal pro­posal will be submitted to the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion at the end of the month.

Ex­pand­ing th­ese ser­vices would be im­por­tant for in­creas­ing cul­tural safety, said Crys­tal Basi, a par­ent and ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Toronto Abo­rig­i­nal Sup­port Ser­vices Coun­cil.

“We have a sig­nif­i­cant twospirit pop­u­la­tion, for ex­am­ple, fam­i­lies that need very spe­cific ser­vices to feel safe and in­cluded,” she said. “They can’t nec­es­sar­ily find that in the main­stream or­ga­ni­za­tions.”

It’s im­por­tant that fam­i­lies and chil­dren get ac­cess to pro­grams that led by mem­bers of Toronto’s In­dige­nous com­mu­ni­ties, said Karen Gray, di­rec­tor of plan­ning and pol­icy de­vel­op­ment at Toronto Chil­dren’s Ser­vices.

She said the city has only one In­dige­nous-gov­erned child-care provider: the Na­tive Child and Fam­ily Life Cen­tre in Scar­bor­ough, where staff speak Cree and Ojibwa lan­guages. It only has 40 spots for chil­dren aged 0-6.

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