Grassroots Daycare officially opened its doors on April 19 at the site of the former Ukrainian Greek Orthodox church on Thompson Drive. Acting director Sandra Gagne and Keewatinowi Awasisak Opi-Ki-Wak (KAO) Daycare vice-chair Barb Carlson had invited parents and organizers alike to witness the ribbon cutting and meet the staff who would host their children throughout the day.
The opening is the culmination of eight years of fundraising and organizing, beginning with efforts under the Thompson Community Childcare Committee of Liz Sousa, Angela Hause and Rhonda McDonald to replace the Juniper Daycare shortly after it closed, the fruits of which later passed on to KAO. After a failed appeal to the city to receive funding for additional spaces, University College of the North (UCN) purchased the current space and approached KAO with the opportunity to renovate and utilize the building, and currently lease the building to KAO at minimal cost. UCN early childhood education (ECE) students helped set up the childcare space.
The daycare was funded largely through provincial capital funding provided by Manitoba Early Learning and Childcare, as well as a $75,000 contribution from Vale.
Carlson, an ECE instructor, also thanked several other contributors, including A&B Builders, the Thompson Community Foundation, Community Futures North Central Development, the YWCA, the Northern Regional Health Authority, the School District of Mystery Lake, the Society of Manitobans with Disabilities, the City of Thompson, the provincial government, the Rotary Club, McDonald’s, the Thompson Chamber of Commerce and Safeway. She also thanked Terri Tretjak, who put in considerable time and energy into renovations, including late-night calls due to break-ins. Tretjak was also involved early in the process, joining the Community Child Care Committee shortly before it evolved into the KAO Daycare Expansion Committee responsible for the final opening.
Carlson and Gagne were joined by KAO board members Nicole Marques and Andrea Robinson, KAO staff Lindsay Horton and Melissa Harris, as well as contributor Liz Sousa. Also present were UCN ECE students who helped put together the space.