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AHS Child Care Centre of Reconciliation Excellence (CoRE)

Aboriginal Head Start Association of British Columbia and Vancouver Island University Announce New Aboriginal Head Start Centre of Reconciliation Excellence meeting child care needs for over 75 families while creating culturally informed training opportunities at VIU.



Vancouver Island University (VIU) and Aboriginal Head Start Association of British Columbia (AHSABC) are pleased to share that construction is starting on a new 75 space Aboriginal Head Start Child Care Centre of Reconciliation Excellence (CoRE) on the VIU Nanaimo campus.


The AHS CoRE will grow greater understanding of Indigenous cultures and celebrate identity early with children and families and community. Grandfather Elder, Don Campbell reminds us “The teachings shared and passed on to the child from birth to 7 years of age are very important and the foundation of spirit, body, emotion, and mental growth and learning in the child’s life journey. The Aboriginal Head Start Association of BC nurtures this learning process to happen at the AHS and VIU CoRE.” 

“Our government is partnering with AHSABC and VIU to create these 75 inclusive, quality and affordable child care spaces with wraparound services for families and children in the Nanaimo area through the ChildCareBC New Spaces Fund,” said Grace Lore, Minister of State for Child Care. “At the same time, this facility will provide hands-on training for early childhood education students. Early childhood educators are at the heart of child care and as we build child care as a core service for all B.C. families, facilities like this, that uplift families and nurture the next generation of educators, are both innovative and essential.”

“I am encouraged by this partnership between VIU and AHSABC and the learning and training that will take place for years to come during this time of truth and reconciliation.” Shares Grandmother Elder, Diana Elliott, member of the AHSABC Elder Advisory Circle.

CoRE group photo-sized.jpg

Responding to the need for high quality child care and training for Early Childhood Educators the AHS CoRE offers the opportunity for reconciliation, through both Indigenous and non-Indigenous children and their family’s participation, in an AHS program. The AHS CoRE Child Care can help to grow community understanding, appreciation, knowledge, and celebration of diversity. Responding to the need for high-quality child care spaces, by 2025 the AHS CoRE will support the needs of the students, staff and faculty on campus and surrounding community. The CoRE will inspire celebration and resilience in our communities.


Grandmother Elder, Dena Carroll reflects “I value how the reconciliation process is ensuring Indigenous Elders, AHS Leaders and the local AHS community is involved in the design, planning, and protocols necessary to ensure a mutually respectful process going forward.”


“It is not often that a wish or a dream becomes a reality when they are attached to the need for funding.” Shares Grandmother Elder, Diana Elliott, member of the AHSABC Elder Advisory Circle. “I am most excited about the AHSABC and VIU partnership in a time where we want to encourage Indigenous people to choose early learning and care as a career and profession. The AHS CoRE also addresses the need for quality practicum and training for students at VIU in a variety of program areas. Providing aplace for learning, mentorship, skill building and confidence while providing quality child care for other’s children,” says Diana Elliott. “I am encouraged by this partnership between VIU and AHSABC and the learning and training that will take place for years to come during this time of truth and reconciliation.”


“AHSABC is dedicated to support the growth of the ECE profession and who will carry our values of caring, creativity and pride,” says Joan Gignac, AHSABC Director. “We are pleased to be working together with VIU, in response to direction from our AHSABC Elder’s Advisory Circle and AHS programs across BC whose services need Early Childhood Educators.”


The centre is also supported by a generous donation from the Raffi Foundation.


Joan Gignac, Aboriginal Head Start Association of BC, and Lynda  Phillip, Associate Dean of Health Sciences and Human Services at VIU, spoke with Jason D'Souza.

VIU-Daycare rendition
VIU-Daycare rendition

above photos courtesy of VIU

CoRE Site Pictures:


AHS is an early intervention, locally controlled and designed program which began in Canada in 1995 to provide early learning and care experiences for First Nations, Métis, and Inuit children (from birth to 6 years of age) and their families living in urban settings across the country.


AHS is based on creating caring, creativity and pride following from the knowledge of traditional community beliefs, within a holistic and safe environment, as a proven ‘Family Wellness’ program.


The AHSABC and VIU CoRE is our next step in the Growing AHS in BC initiatives to create new licensed child care spaces that:

  • are offered to families at no cost.

  • support children and families who need the care the most.

  • commit to providing the ECE profession competitive working wages and benefits informed by the latest research for the Early Childhood profession.

AHSABC is a non-profit society made up of the 39 urban AHS programs in BC. In collaboration with AHS Parents, Elders, program partners and government, members share the responsibility of growing quality early learning environments for Indigenous children and families. AHSABC is able to provide support to AHS communities through their leadership in management and program design.

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