Strengthening our communities

Bimose translates from the Anishinaabe word ‘to walk’.  Our company uses this as a reminder to always walk with our Member First Nations.

A lot of fun, and a lot of handwashing. That pretty much sums up a day in the life of a child at GGW Child Care Centre.

Michelle Meekis is Supervisor of the new Centre.

“We are a brand new centre, just built this past year, so everything in our centre is brand new,” says Meekis. “And plus just like the Gaagagekiizhik School, we are rooted in the Anishinaabe culture, language, traditions and teachings.”

GGW stands for Gaagagegiizhigook Ganawenimaawasowin Wiigiwaam, and the day care is located behind Gaagagekiizhik School on Valley Drive.

Meekis says the ongoing pandemic has resulted in extra precautions at GGW Child Care Centre.

“As of September 1st, 2020, licensees will be expected to ensure all childcare staff wear face coverings while they are working at a child care premises,” explains Meekis. “To support a healthy and safe environment, our program adheres to new strict health and safety policies and procedures which includes grouping children and limiting interactions between groups.”

Specifically, these new policies will include all adults wearing masks and eye protection, alongside screening, limiting visitors, recording attendance for contact tracing, and enhanced cleaning procedures.

Meekis says they’ve also implemented a COVID-19 health and safety policy which includes best practices for infection control.

“That would also include drop-off and pick-up,” conveys Meekis. “They will be screened every morning along with the parents. Visitors are not permitted beyond the screening area. Hand sanitizer and masks will be available for everyone. Physical distancing is encouraged. Children may be provided with water and sensory play in individual sanitized buckets labeled with children’s names. And the space is set up with physical distancing in mind.”

Meekis shares the schedule of one day at the GGW Child Care Centre… and it involves quite a lot of handwashing.

“In the morning when they first come in, we do a health check, we record attendance and whoever comes into contact at the dropoff,” explains Meekis. “As soon as they come in, they get escorted to their cubbies and then their individual classrooms. From there, they go to handwashing… we do a lot of handwashing throughout the day.”

Anishanaabe culture plays an important role in the children’s day, too.

“We have our morning smudge along with our prayers,” says Meekis.

Fun and responsibility are also on the schedule for the children.

“They’ll have a morning snack, and then we’ll go from there to watering our plants, to outdoor play, depending on the weather, and that would include a free play circle time,” explains Meekis. “We just have everything out, there’s no specific routine for the circle or free play, we just follow the child’s lead.”

Next, the children get some exercise, food, and rest.

“As soon as we’re done playing outside we’ll go for a walk, we’ll come back in for a bathroom break, handwashing, healthcheck, and we’ll get ready for lunch,” says Meekis. “That would include handwashing… again. After they’ve had their lunch, they’ll brush their teeth and get ready for quiet time which may include nap time for the younger ones, or it’ll be quiet play, and that’s usually for about from 12 to 2. When everybody starts getting up, we’ll go for the bathroom break and handwashing again, and from there we’ll go to free play and outdoor play again, weather permitting, and then that’s pretty much the end of the day!”

Meekis says handwashing may be frequent throughout the day, but the kids love it.

“They get to play with the water as they’re washing their hands,” she laughs.

GGW Child Care Centre is licensed for 15 toddlers and 16 preschoolers, and as of August 21 there was still availability in both age groups.

Child care application forms may be obtained by visiting the GGW Child Care Centre at 1450 Valley Drive (the little grey building behind Kiizhik School), or by visiting https://www.bimose.ca/about-bimose/latest-news/97-childcare-centre

Subsidy forms are available through the Kenora District Services Board, and can be picked up at the GGW Child Care Centre or online at http://www.kdsb.on.ca/

(Originated through Kenora Online – Local News on August 27, 2020)