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Gengenlilas Preschool- Spreading Indigeneous Knowledge in Campbell River, BC


When the Campbell River First Nation on Vancouver Island decided to build a preschool for its community, it had specific needs in mind. It wanted a school that would teach children about the
First Nation's culture and that would be free of charge to anyone in the
community. Today, that school – the Gengenlilas Preschool – is up and running.
The First Nation used resources from its bingo operation and from outside
sources to build the school and offer the program free of charge. The school
has a play-longhouse, First Nation theme toys and traditional articles such as
drums and masks. Elders and other community members help teach the basics of
the First Nation's culture, including Campbell River stories, dances, and
songs. Previously, Campbell River First Nation parents had to pay to send their
children to preschool. Now, parents are able to work while their children are
at the school, a situation that is providing a boost to the local economy and
to the personal pride of the First Nation's members. The school and its program
are a vital element of the community's educational resources. Gengenlilas should
continue for generations to come, helping to teach the First Nation's children
about the wealth of their heritage and to prepare them for their future

Upon doing more research, I found that Gengenlilas First Nation School is part of ActionSchoolsBC (www.actionschoolsbc.ca) which receives funding from 2010 Legacies Now supported by the BC Ministry of Healthy Living and Sport and the BC Ministry of
. Gengenlilas is also a part of British
Columbia Recreation & Parks Association’s (BCRPA) Active Communities
Program (
http://www.bcrpa.bc.ca/recreation_parks/active_communities.htm) but the BCRPA couldn’t renew funding for the 2009-2010 year, so
the program has been cancelled. (As a side note, I realized that my little
brother’s school is also considered an Action School in BC. When I get home in
July to Vancouver, I will ask him all about it!)

Location of the school:

Name: School District No 72, Schools, Gengenlilas
Street: 1420 Weiwaik**
Campbell River, BC V9H1A1-
Phone: (250) 286-1441

The following is taken from a very nice doc**ent I found (dsp-psd.pwgsc.gc.ca/Collection/R12-12-2-1997E.pdf):

Gengenlilas (pronounced- gin gin lay’ less) means “a gathering place for children” in Kwakiutl, a west coast First Nation language. Cla**** started in late September
1996 in Campbell River, 200 miles north of Victoria on Vancouver Island. A new building
for the preschool, operational last year and completed just in time for this
season of school, was largely funded with two years’ worth of revenues from the
First Nation’s bingo operation. Gengenlilas is the only free on-reserve preschool
available to Campbell River, Cape Mudge (of Quadra Island) and Mamaleleqala
Que’Qua’Sot’ Enox (from the northeast coast of Vancouver Island) First Nations children.

The preschool allows parents to work while their children are cared for. The additional family income provides a boost to the local economy. When
preschooled children reach primary school, they are very successful, and
according to Gengenlilas kindergarten teacher Diane Stobart, they are clearly
set apart academically from those children who haven’t attended daycare. She
also said that, as a result of the preschool, parents’ overall interest in
their children’s education increased. She credits Duncan for this, saying,
“She’s done an excellent job of it.”

Stobart says that 60 to 70 percent of eligible children are now enrolling in the preschool. “We worked hard to gain the respect of the Native population so kids will
participate in the preschool. Its purpose is to have kids graduate from high
school,” she adds.

More information can be found here: http://www.crband.ca/aboriginal-kindergarten-program-campbell-river

And here: http://www.sd72.bc.ca/doc**ents/publications/fnannualreport/SD72_FN_report_05_06.pdf which shows that even in 2006 (10 years after it started) Gengenlilas is still
accepting children for registration and is as successful as ever!

Views: 28

Comment by NANGAR SOOMRO on April 28, 2010 at 8:06am
Good knowledge share


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