Lheidli T’enneh First Nation is ready to break ground on its new childcare centre located at the southern entrance to Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park.
The construction work will begin tomorrow with site preparation work with the goal of completing the foundation before winter.
Funding for the new childcare centre was first announced by the B.C. Government in May 2021.
“Our nation has waited a longtime to begin work on a childcare centre that incorporated Lheildi T’enneh values and principals. Our initial priority project was our new health centre which opened last year in the Northside subdivision. We can now focus on the construction of our childcare centre,” said Lheidli T’enneh councillor and project lead Kyle McIntosh.
The new facility will include space for 24 infants and toddlers, 25 for children aged three years to kindergarten and 26 for school aged children.
Programming will emphasize Dakelh language and culture and include rlder involvement, storytelling, songs, dancing and land-based learning.
“With the architectural design, we kind of went off a pit house design and so it's beautiful. It's going to add so much to the neighbourhood and Prince George. Lheidli is going to be so proud of this and I, myself, as a passion project, am super proud of this,” said McIntosh.
“Because we are on the traditional village site of the Lheidli T'enneh we are going to have a lot of Indigenous cultural influences in our curriculum. But it's for everybody.”
Last year, Lheidli T’enneh also completed an archeological survey of the site as Lheildi T’enneh Memorial Park is the location of the nation’s former main village Lheidli.
“There are several burial sites throughout the park, so it is critical to conduct a detailed archeological survey to ensure that nothing is disturbed while we proceed with site preparation and construction of the new childcare centre,” explained McIntosh.
He also noted that the childcare centre will be unique in Prince George as the goal is to provide 24/7 childcare for shift workers, as well, if staffing is available.
“I am not too sure what the staffing will be required for that, so this is the process we are going to have to figure out. I know staffing is really hard to get right now so we are going to have to be aggressive and hopefully everyone will want to work in a beautiful brand-new building.”
The previous users of the site, the Recycling and Environmental Action Planning Society (REAPS), have now found a new location so the way is clear to begin work on the childcare project.
If everything goes as planned, the project should be completed in fall 2024.