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Fresh start for headstart

Jason Unrau
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (July 22/05) - Children set to attend Inuvik's Aboriginal Headstart Program this fall will be dropped off at its new location on Inuit Road.

According to program facilitator Patricia Davison, regional training co-ordinator for child development for the Inuvialuit, the property and building were donated by the Sutherland family.

Patricia Davison, IRC regional training co-ordinator for child development was instrumental in getting federal funding for the headstart program, which began in the fall of last year.

"Nellie (Cournoyea, CEO of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation) got a call from the family asking if she knew of a non-profit organization that could use the building," explained Davison.

The program got a late start last fall due to some lease problems with the Alex Moses building and eventually leased some property on Tuma Road from the Beaufort Delta Education Council. That lease expired June 30.

Last year, 24 kids were registered and took part in headstart program activities.

Last week Inuvik town council passed a motion granting the program conditional use of the donated residential property for daycare operations.

"The house is so close to the roadline that the parking issue had to be addressed," said Deputy Mayor Arlene Hansen. "Perhaps a fence would be appropriate in front of the house to avoid the chance of kids darting from the yard onto the street."

On Monday, the Drum visited the property with Davison, who explained the $150,000 worth of renovations planned for the building and property, which will be completed in time for the beginning of the school year.

Trees and other foliage will be cleared from the side of the building for a parking lot while the remainder of the yard will, according to Davison, "be left in its natural state."

"To little ones, this backyard will be like a forest," she said.

As for the renovations, Davison expects headstart to be approximately $40,000 short.

"We're hoping to get donations in kind for gravel, some kitchen appliances and fencing."

Davison says that anybody interested in one of the birch trees that will be removed from the planned parking area can contact her at the IRC.

Accepting the donation of this property doesn't mean the headstart program has abandoned plans to be part of the new elementary school once it is built.

"We are still an active partner in the Children First Society," said Davison of the association formed by representatives from Inuvik's three early childhood educators and caregivers: Aboriginal Headstart, Inuvik Daycare and Inuvik Preschool.

The society hopes to raise $3.5 million to fund a wing dedicated to childcare and early childhood education in SAMS replacement school.