"Stepping into" the Early Years Coalition
The Raising the Villages Early Years Coalition increased its support base on February 24 at the second of four scheduled workshops devoted to strengthening community resources for children aged 0-6 years. Health, education and economic development experts as well as political leaders and First Nations Elders gathered at the Wagmatcook Culture and Heritage Centre to plan the path forward.
Following the day long workshop, those able to spearhead ongoing efforts were asked to step into a circle formed by all seventy in attendance. Baddeck librarian, Kate Oland, was among the twenty people who stepped in.
“Now comes the hard work of listening to our communities, finding out where the gaps are, and working together to find solutions. If we can genuinely coalesce as a group, with our smallest citizens at the center, it will mean positive change for families and for the future of our island.”
First Nation Elder Magit Sylliboy stepped in as did her daughter, Rose Sylliboy. Rose is the Director of Mawita’mk Society, a group home located in We’koqma’q.
For Rose, the value of the Early Years Coalition lies in its potential to assist her community in its ongoing recovery from the impact of the residential school system which robbed children of their parent role models.
“There are shells of people who were just trying to raise children the best way they could. I sat at a table with two survivors who never hugged their children. What kind of parenting skills could nuns teach? Two thousand children passed through a school system where play wasn’t important,” says Sylliboy.
Victoria County Councillor Perla Macleod commented that she has spoken with numerous families who struggle with access to resources and hopes to see more Victoria County residents get involved in the Coalition.
Mayor of Port Hawkesbury, Brenda Chisholm-beaton, says this second workshop was a “good leap forward”. Thinking ahead to Port Hawkesbury's upcoming strategic planning meeting she thinks, “some of the strategic goals we set for ourselves could be aligned to the vision the [Coalition] is discussing and formulating”.
If you would like to “step in” to Raise the Villages, please contact 902-258-3220 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jim Mustard (left), Councillor for Inverness County and co-organizer of the 'Raising the Villages' Early Years Coalition, holds a young attendee at a recent workshop while speaking to fellow co-organizer Robert Bernard, Director of Development at the Wagmatcook Culture and Heritage Centre. Photo by Carolyn Barber / The Victoria Standard.