The Phil Bouvier Family Centre, completed in 2008 with the support of generous Central City Foundation donors and operated by Vancouver Native Health Society, is a uniquely valuable integrated family service hub in the inner city that operates one of only two Aboriginal focused childcare education programs in Vancouver. Programs Manager Horacio Valle Torres is justifiably proud of their holistic approach that incorporates not only culture, traditions, and language, but respects each child as an individual, removes invisibility, and provides unique supports required to meet children where they are at. Because of this distinctive approach to childcare, the centre was recently recognized by the Province with an award of excellence.
Horacio Valle Torres with the Honourable Mary McNeil, Minister of Children and Family Development
The centre is revolutionising early education in the inner city by bringing children of different backgrounds together in an Aboriginal focused early education model. This model creates a unique environment where both Aboriginal and non Aboriginal babies, toddlers, and children are culturally supported in a hub environment. Barriers to service are removed by providing a range of programs such as Family Support Workers, Aboriginal Supported Child Development, Aboriginal Early Learning, and Social Paediatrics under one roof.
On May 27th, 2011 the Phil Bouvier Family Centre was the recipient of a BC Childcare Award of Excellence in a ceremony that the Honourable Mary McNeil, Minister of Children and Family Development, calls a “chance to honour BC child care professionals who have demonstrated outstanding service to children and families.” Watch more about the award online here.
The award is important as it publically distinguishes the Phil Bouvier Family Centre as a remarkable space. In a neighbourhood that faces many challenges, the centre is a shining star that cultivates strong, socially aware children who will arrive to grade one knowledgeable about their community, armed with respect for diversity, and bolstered by abundant self esteem. The understanding and support that they take away from the centre will impact their families, school, and our whole community for years to come.
“Central City Foundation is thrilled for the Phil Bouvier Family Centre,” says Jennifer Johnstone, President and CEO of CCF, “we, as well as our donors, believe in the fantastic work happening there and are confident it will make a positive impact for generations.”
With the award placed beside his desk, Horacio humbly remarks that the award has empowered the staff at the Phil Bouvier Family Centre to increase the already excellent level of service: “it has raised the bar for us. We already knew we were doing a good job, and it is nice to be recognised, but now we are challenged to exceed expectations.”
During a tour, you may witness how the committed staff excel in their work; in an environment that is calm and caring, staff are warm to visitors and attentive to each child. Well balanced hot snacks and nutritious lunches are planned in advance on a very meagre $900 per month budget, and play areas flourish with different activities to entertain and educate, including a child-sized longhouse in the playground.
For the future generations of children living in the inner city, the Centre instills a sense of pride, hope, and belonging in their neighbourhood.