Pelican Lake First Nation
From early morning until late afternoon, the log building behind the Pelican Lake Band Hall is one busy place. Up to 23 children attend when the Pelican Lake Daycare Centre is running at peak capacity. On a lovely summer morning after the children have had a walk down the road, picked dandelions, and used up that extra energy on the slides and exercise sets, there are a few quiet moments.
Every day there is a hot lunch prepared and little ones wait in quiet anticipation. Lunch is followed by a nap and some educational and entertaining activities. But there is flexibility to the routine and the day-care workers are alert to the needs of the different children, putting some down for a rest before lunch rather than after. It is evident there are some very strong attachments between kids and caregivers. One child often refers to the caregiver as Mum… without a second thought.
The Daycare started out in 1997, housed in a trailer, but it was soon evident it was too small to meet the needs at Pelican Lake. The day-care workers proposed to the Chief and Council that through fundraising they could better provide for the children. Two years of planning and a lot of work later the Daycare is housed in a beautiful log building. Currently, it operates from August to June, caring for children from newborn to four years old.
Those three and older spend part of each day in the Daycare and part in the Aboriginal Head Start (AHS) program that shares the building.
Cree instructions are learned as well as how to count. Words printed clearly on brightly coloured geometric shapes hang from the ceiling ("square", "circle," etc.) and children as young as two are learning to read some English words.
Half the costs to run the Daycare Centre and half the building loan costs are being paid from funds distributed by the First Nations Trust. Running two programs out of the Centre has proven to be efficient as well.
A new equipment shed will be built later this year. Moving toys outside will free up needed space inside the Daycare Centre.