Pic Mobert Chief Wayne Sabourin looks forward to better opportunities for parents and children in the community after $283,543 in provincial funding was announced on Feb. 21 for a day care in the community’s Netamisakomik Centre for Education.

By Rick Garrick

PIC MOBERT FIRST NATION—Pic Mobert Chief Wayne Sabourin looks forward to the completion of a day care in the community’s Netamisakomik Centre for Education through $283,543 in provincial funding.

“It will help us tremendously — it will help single parents or even young parents to gain employment,” Sabourin says, noting that the community currently does not have a day care. “The kids can get an upper hand on education, too. They can be getting into the school setting at an earlier age and I think it is going to benefit the child and the parents both.”

The funding was provided through the provincial government’s Aboriginal Community Capital Grants Program (ACCGP), which is designed to promote Indigenous self-reliance by funding community capital projects that provide a delivery point for community services and business activity.

“If we do get a Tim Horton’s along the highway or even a convenience store-gas bar, those people who need to be there have a place now where they can drop their young ones off and know they are in good safe hands,” Sabourin says. “Plus, the kids will be in activities where they can get familiar with the school structure.”

Donna Sutherland, Pic Mobert’s manager of economic development, says the day care project will begin with renovations in the old library room at the Netamisakomik Centre for Education, which houses JK to Grade eight classes. The project also includes the construction of a separate entranceway, a fenced-in playground and a parking lot for the day care.

“This is going to be a licensed day care,” Sutherland says, noting that the day care will meet the Child Care and Early Years Act. “There’s going to be a washroom and a kitchen, a play area and a sleep area.”

Sutherland says that the community is “very excited” about the project.

“It’s been talked about for many years,” Sutherland says. “Once we see the shovel in the ground, which will be this month, it will certainly be exciting.”

Sutherland expects the day care will be ready for use by September.

“They can start [working] inside,” Sutherland says. “But the outside work and the parking lot and the grounds area is not going to get done until the snow is gone.”

Pic Mobert’s day care project was one of four northern Ontario First Nation projects that were announced by the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation on Feb. 21. Animbiigoo Zaagi’igan Anishinaabek, Eabametoong and Missanabie Cree also received funding through the provincial government’s Aboriginal Economic Development Fund (AEDF).

“These grants will go a long way in helping First Nation communities improve economic outcomes,” says David Zimmer, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. “It’s part of our goal to improve the overall well-being of Indigenous people in our province.”

The provincial government provided more than $38 million in capital grants to Indigenous communities through the Aboriginal Community Capital Grants Program from 2003-2016.

The provincial government plans to invest a total of $95 million in the AEDF over 10 years. Launched in 2014, the AEDF has three funding streams: Regional Partnership Grants, Economic Diversification Grants and the Business and Community Fund.