kindergarten class in Vanier gives taste of life in the
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Condensed by Native Village
Ontario: Ottawa has 1,800 Inuit residents, the largest Inuit population south of their homelands. Most families come from Nunavut and The Canadian North. They move to Ontario for work, school and medical treatment.
The Inuit Children's Centre in Ottawa had been serving the youngest Inuit youth. Now they have a new Inuit kindergarten -- the first one in Ontario. It serves 15 Inuit students.
"We had children already enrolled here through our aboriginal head-start program and our childcare centre," said Karen Baker-Anderson, the centre's executive director. "We thought, 'why not give them a school-based curriculum but have it here and have the culture embedded in everything we do?'"
The Centre's kindergarten, which opened last October, "... blends the best parts of Inuit culture and language with all of the elements of full-day kindergarten," said Jim Grieve from the Ontario Ministry of Education. He added that it "...serves as an outstanding example for other communities partnering to serve First Nations, Métis, and Inuit children and their families."
Students at the Inuit Children's Center are immersed in their Inuit culture. They speak, read, and write in their Inuktitut language, are told Inuit legends, dance to and sing their traditional Inuit music, learn of their ancestors environment, the animals of their homelands, and explore all cultural and lifestyle areas of their Inuit people.
"The best way to continue to have a strong resilient
community is by having strong resilient children who
know their culture," said Baker-Anderson. "You can imagine, moving from the north, you're isolated
from your family, what you know, the way that you've
lived your life.
When you come here and hear your language and eat
traditional food you feel a sense of belonging."
"Not only are they learning their ABCs, they're learning
about polar bears and the northern lights." Jane Kigutaq,
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