The Ska:na Family Learning Centre’s exterior is shown on Friday, Aug. 9, 2019. The organization has transformed the former bingo hall at 1699 Northway Ave. since taking it over.
Taylor Campbell / Windsor Star
Months after taking over and transforming what was once a bingo hall at 1699 Northway Ave. last year, the Ska:na Family Learning Centre is now working toward a building addition for a childcare centre at its newest home.“This neighbourhood doesn’t have enough childcare so that was why we chose this location as well,” said Sophia Peltier, Ska:na corporate services director. “Even though it’ll be Indigenous-led, an Indigenous pedagogy and working with our Indigenous community, we work with all populations.”The Ska:na Family Learning Centre is a not-for-profit charity organization servicing families with children from birth to 12 years old. The centre was founded in 2003 by the parent council of an early-childhood education program from the Can-Am Indian Friendship Centre.Ska:na currently owns and operates the Northway property, having celebrated its grand opening in December 2018, allowing for the centre to increase its scope in early childhood education, family services, and support in community programming. The organization also operates at 1684 Ellrose Ave. and offers a school-based program at David Maxwell Public School.A report regarding the proposal is on the agenda for city council development and standing committee’s meeting on Monday. Administration is recommending that a zoning by-law amendment request be approved.“Because the building is zoned right now as commercial we have to just go through the process to get it zoned for childcare,” said Peltier.The space currently houses the Ska:na offices, EarlyON programming, and is co-located with the Can-Am Indian Friendship Centre.EarlyON offers free drop-in programs for families with young children. Windsor and Essex County currently have nearly 30 EarlyON centres, one of which Ska:na also operates at its Ellrose location.“When you come here there’s the Friendship Centre, there’s our elderly, and there’s our family — our community. All of that is happening in this co-location,” Peltier said. “So childcare was a natural connection in response to what we believe our children need.” Space for children to do activities is seen inside the Ska:na Family Learning Centre on Friday.The proposed addition would see 25 parking spaces transformed into an additional one-storey building attached to the north side of the existing property for a 73-space childcare centre.“We have a representative in our EarlyON lead team, Connie DiSilva, who’s done a lot of that work in bridging some of those community needs with what the Indigenous community can do,” said Peltier. “We’ve been supporting our newcomer population and women population for quite some time.”The new addition would be equipped with an infant, toddler, and two preschool rooms, offices, and an outdoor play and learning area.“We actually minimize our indoor space and we maximize our outdoor space,” said executive director Faith Hale. “We grow our food, we harvest our food, we share our food. In the wintertime, we tell our stories, we teach children, we use the land — we have outdoor classrooms.”The expansion at 1699 Northway will also be licensed by the Ministry of Education for home-based childcare for contracting individual childcare providers who work out of their homes.Related
Once the zoning application is approved Ska:na plans to start construction right away after meeting with contractors and hopes to have the childcare centre complete and fully operational by September email@example.com A design for an upcoming renovation at the Ska:na Family Learning Centre on Northway Avenue are seen inside the organization’s former bingo hall building on Aug. 9, 2019. The Ska:na Family Learning Centre’s exterior is shown on Friday. Cork, twine and other materials for kids to explore sit in a bin at the Ska:na Family Learning Centre. A sign on the door to the Ska:na Family Learning Centre. The Ska:na Family Learning Centre interior is shown Friday prepared for a wedding ceremony.