The Penticton Indian Band broke ground on a new daycare facility Tuesday, June 27, that will more than quadruple their current capacity.
The gathering at the site of the new facility included Elders, members of band staff, Chief and council with a traditional prayer and a drum song from Elder Arnold Baptiste. Those gathered then joined in a circle to perform the traditional blessing of land for the children.
“When you find that place where you’re going to stand, you’re going to find it here on this ground,” said Baptiste. “Where you put that tobacco, that’s the blessing those children will be blessed with when we are long gone.”
The facility is aimed to be completed in July 2024. The current children’s centre has capacity for up to 30 multi-age spaces.
Once the new space is finished, it will have space for 139 kids, including 54 after-school spaces for children from preschool up to Grade 6.
“We’re already involved in our school expansion, that shows the growth of our community. Our community has already outgrown our school,” said Chief Greg Gabriel. “Plans for the new daycare launched in 2018, and that was because we’re stretched for space. It’s no different than any other community.”
The new Little Paws Child Care Centre is going forward with a grant from the provincial government’s New Spaces Fund. The daycare centre’s manager Elizabeth Bent led the push to get the funding for the expansion.
The expanded facility is just one of several changes coming to the area around the Outma Sqilx’W Cultural School. On June 22, the band celebrated the grand opening of a new qʷc̓iʔ (winter home) at the school, which will be used to help educate students on their Indigenous heritage.
The band is looking beyond further projects to meet the community’s needs.
“We held a community engagement session last night for more development around this area,” said Gabriel. “We’re looking at future plans for future administration and gathering space north of our school to meet the growth of our community. Our plan is to have all our services and administration all in one core area.”
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