"Step­ping into" the Early Years Coali­tion

The Victoria Standard - - LOCAL NEWS - CAROLYN BAR­BER

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 chris­tine.vill­neff@nshealth.ca.

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.

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