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City of London and Southwest Ontario Aboriginal Health Access Centre (SOAHAC) partner on New Indigenous-led Licensed Child Care and EarlyON Child and Family Centre

The City of London and the Southwest Ontario Aboriginal Health Access Centre (SOAHAC) are thrilled to partner on a new Indigenous-led Licensed Child Care and EarlyON Child and Family Centre.

As the first of its kind in London, the Centre will provide culturally relevant early years programming that is based in language and Spirit, serving families in London and Middlesex County.

The Indigenous-led Child Care and Family Centre addresses concerns heard during engagement with Indigenous families and service providers in London and Middlesex. Through the engagement process, Indigenous families expressed that access to culturally relevant, quality Indigenous–led programming that supports families is critical.

“Through conversations with the community we heard that families want to learn their language and culture together with their children; they want a place where all Nations are welcomed, and they want a place to call their own,” says Lynne Livingstone, Managing Director, Neighbourhood, Children and Fire Services, City of London. “The Indigenous-led Licensed Child Care and EarlyON Child and Family Centre is our community’s response to those concerns and one way we are working collaboratively to directly impact children and families in London.”

“SOAHAC is fortunate to be able to take the lead on this project, and ensure that Indigenous voices and culture are a part of the planning, design and implementation,” says Jan Martin, an Integrated Care Manager for SOAHAC. “Through the Journey Together Indigenous Planning Committee, we are taking a collaborative approach to planning for families, and can see the Centre as an extension of the services offered by partnering agencies.” This includes addressing the specific supports needed for healthy Indigenous families and Indigenous child development. The initiative also supports relationship building between Indigenous families and organizations, as well as non-Indigenous organizations families.

Since inception, this project has been guided and supported by the Journey Together Indigenous Planning Committee, which includes representatives from local Indigenous-led organizations, Indigenous parents and caregivers, and other relevant planning partners.

Funding for the project was made possible through The Journey Together: Ontario’s Commitment to Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. This is possible, in part, as a result of the Province of Ontario and the Government of Canada commitment to significant investments to address the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, and specifically call to action # 12, calling upon the federal, provincial, territorial, and Aboriginal governments to develop culturally appropriate early childhood education programs for Aboriginal families.

The Centre will be built at 449 Hill Street, within the shared territory of the Anishinaabe (Ojibwe), Haudenosaunee (Oneida) and Leni-Lenape (Delaware) peoples.

Construction of the Centre is expected to be complete in 2020.