Cowichan Tribes, the Stz’uminus First Nation and Vancouver Island University have joined together to design a specialized early childhood care program for 24 indigenous students in the region. (Citizen file)

Cowichan Tribes, the Stz’uminus First Nation and Vancouver Island University have joined together to design a specialized early childhood care program for 24 indigenous students in the region. (Citizen file)

Island program will certify 24 Indigenous caregivers

Vancouver Island University teams with First Nations in the south central Island

Cowichan Tribes, the Stz’uminus First Nation and Vancouver Island University have joined together to design a specialized early childhood care program for 24 indigenous students in the region.

Over the three-year program, students will receive adult basic education upgrading, Hul’qu’minum language learning and a diploma in early childhood education.

The program is the result of $815,000 in funding from the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, and the Ministry of Children and Family Development.

That money is in addition to the $1-billion child care investment announced by the province for boosting training and development supports for child care professionals, and addressing the issues of recruitment and retention in the sector and is consistent with B.C.’s commitment to advancing true, lasting reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, and to implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action.

The Snuw’uy’ulh Sqwaluwun Smun’eem (Children of our Community) early childhood education and care (ECEC) program includes working with Elders to connect traditional teachings with classroom learnings, tutoring services and help from employment support co-ordinators in transitioning to employment.

“Cowichan Tribes Education and Vancouver Island University maintain a positive and successful working relationship. The current need for early childhood educators is growing, as our Cowichan Tribes daycare continues to grow. It is wonderful for our students to have the opportunity to participate in the ECEC program,” said Char Crocker, director, Quw’utsun Syuw’entst Lelum’, Cowichan Tribes.

Vancouver Island University’s Warren Weir said it’s one of VIU’s core values is to work closely with First Nations and to provide culturally relevant and supportive educational opportunities.

“This new funding supports that core value, allowing us to create educational opportunities for Indigenous students that will provide participants with the skills to give back and support their community,” Weir explained. “We are very pleased and honoured to continue our work with Cowichan Tribes and the Stz’uminus First Nation partners in the offering of this early childhood education and care program.”