Canada – Ginoogaming First Nation celebrates the opening of its new Aboriginal Head Start on Reserve facility

March 1, 2022 — Ginoogaming First Nation, Treaty #9 Territory, Ontario — Ginoogaming First Nation and Indigenous Services Canada

Ginoogaming First Nation and Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) are pleased to announce the opening of a new Aboriginal Head Start on Reserve (AHSOR) facility in the community. The community, which led the construction of the facility, celebrated its opening on February 22, 2022, with a traditional smudging ceremony performed by Elder Victor Chapais. A ribbon cutting and grand opening will be held at a later date when COVID-19 protocols allow for them.

The community-owned and operated facility enables Ginoogaming First Nation to more than double the number of children they can accommodate, improving access to community-driven, culturally appropriate programming for children from birth to age 6.

AHSOR’s model combines traditional activities identified by communities with the promotion of Indigenous languages and cultures. Through its AHSOR program, Ginoogaming strives to provide a home-like environment where children feel safe and can achieve their potential. Staff instill a sense of belonging in the children by serving them traditionally prepared wild foods; sharing legends; and organizing a variety of activities, including musical activities, field trips and visits from Elders.

In addition, AHSOR’s holistic approach encourages First Nations parents, families and community members to get involved and build on the relationships with other community-based programs and services to ensure that First Nations children get the best care throughout their development.

Ginoogaming’s new facility is approximately 550 square metres—a significant upgrade from the previous children’s facility. Now, up to 71 children can participate in regular programming, and the community is planning summer programs for school-aged kids. When COVID-19 restrictions are eased, the facility will also welcome children from the surrounding area.

Ginoogaming First Nation Timber Claim Trust contributed $750,000 to this project, and an additional $20,000 was provided by Greenstone Gold Mines. ISC invested $3,080,423 to fund the facility’s design and construction, bringing the total project cost to $3,850,423.