ARCHIVED - Ottawa Inuit Children's Centre

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Serving the largest urban Inuit population in Canada, the Ottawa Inuit Children's Centre provides education programming with additional cultural content. Children who attend the Ottawa Inuit Children's Centre not only follow the same curriculum as any other child in Ontario, but they also get the added benefit of learning their own culture and language.

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Transcript: Ottawa Inuit Children's Centre

Maatalii Okalik – President – The Ottawa Inuit Children's Centre
The Ottawa Inuit Children's Centre is an organization in the City of Ottawa that fosters education in a cultural context for Inuit. We serve 90 families a day and we have 8 programs that we run here… they're all rooted in Inuit traditional knowledge and culture.

One of the programs of the Ottawa Inuit Children's Centre is the Kindergarten program.

Karen Baker-Anderson – Executive Director – The Ottawa Inuit Children's Centre
There was a great need defined by our parents for an Inuit kindergarten program in this area. Ottawa is home to the largest urban Inuit population and we heard from our parents who had their children involved in our early years programs that they really wanted to keep the kids engaged in cultural teachings and keep them part of our community for as long as possible…

Cynthia Willman – Principal – Robert E. Wilson Public School – Ottawa-Carleton District School Board
The Ottawa Carleton District School Board provides the teachers, the early childhood educator and a lunch monitor… they provided the equipment to set up the classroom; the Ottawa Inuit Children's Centre provided the space… they also provide a cultural worker… they provide meals for the children and things like that.

Lynda Brown – Parent
They learn the same curriculum that any child in Ontario would learn but they also get the added benefit of culture and language, of Inuktitut circles twice a day, so they get the French, the Inuktitut, English and it just gets them prepared for Grade One.

Jenna Bailey – Inuit Kindergarten Teacher – Ottawa-Carleton District School Board
We really take it to another level that you wouldn't find in a mainstream education system… we also, as far as doing Music and Dramatic Arts, we integrate throat singing… Inuktitut songs, drumming… those sorts of cultural aspects to instill that cultural integrity and confidence in the students.

Jesse Kangok – Parent
It's very important for me to be able to pass on our heritage and our culture to my sonand this, the Ottawa Inuit Children's Centre helped me pass it on… not only for me to do it on my own at home but also to do it in his school environment.

Lynda Brown – Parent
Giving children a chance at a really early age to see all the strengths and positive things about their culture just gives them a better start in life.

My daughter loves the Inuktitut circles, she often comes home and she is singing songs in Inuktitut, she knows all her colours, she can tell you the days of the week, so for me it's really exciting to hear her speaking a language that I don't even speak.

Lynda Brown – Parent
So, if you get them young, interested in education it just makes it easier that they'll probably finish school, high school and hopefully go onto post-secondary school.

Children who further their education are able to go back in their communities and really make a difference in positions that have authority in decision making abilities.

Karen Baker-Anderson – Executive Director – The Ottawa Inuit Children's Centre
At the end of the day it's all about the future of these kids and ensuring that we end up with a really strong Inuit community based on what we're teaching our kids today in kindergarten.

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