When the the BC Aboriginal Child Care Society (BCACCS) discovered a major leak in the roof of Singing Frog Aboriginal Head Start preschool they reached out to Central City Foundation to provide emergency funding. With the support CCF’s donors, the roof was quickly repaired and now early Aboriginal education continues in a safe and comfortable space in East Vancouver.
Singing Frog provides Indigenous focused education to 40 Aboriginal children ages 3 to 5 from across the city. The program introduces children to Aboriginal culture through education, play and guest elders who pass on traditions that instill understanding and pride in the child’s Aboriginal heritage.
Supporting a strong Aboriginal community in Vancouver by providing funding and subsidized community spaces for Indigenous programs in the inner city is a priority for CCF donors. Our Aboriginal focused community partners include Vancouver Native Health Society at the Phil Bouvier Family Centre, Urban Native Youth Association, the Aboriginal Mothers Centre, Vancouver Native Housing Society, and the BC Women’s Hospital and Health Centre, as well as the BCACCS.
“In essence we were homeless for a time and relocating to another site proved to be a commute for families, so enrollment dropped,” said Leonna Antoine, program coordinator at Singing Frog. “Central City Foundation provided the perfect amount of funding at the perfect time so we could come back to our home.”
Living in an urban area with a multitude of cultures poses a challenge for Aboriginal families who wish to pass on Aboriginal traditions to their children. For Antoine, who grew up outside of Vancouver, language and tradition were the fabric of her community, but children in Vancouver have far less opportunity to engage with elders and traditions of their nation.
“If we are not providing access to cultural teachings and protocols, than it would be very difficult for the children to access this knowledge,” said Antoine. “Parents who come here want their Aboriginal children to be with other Aboriginal children and learn traditional practices, so that they can feel confident in continuing on with these traditions as they grow.”
Kai Bighorn’s three nephews have attended or are attending Singing Frog and he sees how engaging with other Aboriginal students and cultures gives them a sense of identity.
“They are like sponges and will remember being at a school that celebrated their tribe and culture,” said Kai. “There are so many cultures in Vancouver and we appreciate them all, but at the same time we don’t want to forget where we came from and this school helps us remember.”