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This article was published 9/1/2019 (687 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A daycare expansion at the University of Manitoba gives priority to Indigenous undergraduate students who need the service while they attend classes and nearly doubles the child-care capacity at the Fort Garry campus.
So it was no surprise to see the university celebrate the grand opening Tuesday with a host of senior academic officials and two local Conservative MLAs — all in their sock feet in the new mini-gym for a series of speeches and to admire the new space.
The $3.3-million expansion includes a 7,750-square-foot addition to the existing centre on Dysart Road. The project broke ground in 2017, in response to a university report four years earlier that called for enhanced daycare services.
Fifty-four new spaces were added to the existing daycare centre that previously had a capacity of 64 children. (Twenty other spaces from elsewhere on campus were also folded into the centre.)
The daycare centre accepts children from the age of three months to six years old. There are 17 spots set aside for the children of Indigenous undergraduate students — and they will be given priority on the waiting list, which now runs to 800 names of students, staff and faculty.
Funding will also support the centre in its efforts to weave traditional Indigenous teachings into the daycare’s curriculum — an effort to prepare the next generation to continue the process of reconciliation, a focus that is part of the university’s core values.
All 138 spots are currently filled.
"It makes a huge difference as we take the next step in reconciliation and make sure our children are aware of things that happened in the past," said Ashley Davidson, chairwoman of the board for the children’s centre and a U of M employee.
"Thinking about when I was in school, I didn’t learn about that in my education, so it’s especially important for me that our children are aware of these things," said the Métis mother, whose son, Renly, 3, attends the daycare.
Shawna Pfeffer’s 13-month-old daughter, Romi, was one of the first babies to get one of the new spots.
"It’s fantastic. My husband and I both work on campus and being close by is invaluable. We are only minutes away, if needed. The space is beautiful and the staff are second to none," Pfeffer said.
The University of Manitoba Students’ Union supplied $2.4 million for the project and the U of M Graduate Students’ Association provided $300,000. The province kicked in $600,000.
The new daycare space is part of the university’s $500-million, multi-year capital campaign fundraising effort.
"From the beginning of our Front and Centre Campaign, scholarships, updated classrooms and spaces and innovative learning experiences are always top of mind, but child care has been as well," university president David Barnard said.
"I’m thrilled this day has arrived and we are celebrating the expansion of our child-care centre. This is a huge day for the centre and for this university," agreed Susan Gottheil, the university vice-provost for students.