Yukon elder reopens Old Crow's daycare after 10-year hiatus

Elizabeth Kaye, 75, has given up retirement to reopen her dayhome in Old Crow — the community's only daycare. 'I thought I was going to stay home and relax,' she said.

'I thought I was going to stay home and relax,' said Elizabeth Kaye

After 10 years, Elizabeth Kaye, shown here with her son Edward Kyikavichick, has come out of retirement to reopen Old Crow's only childcare service. (Jason Westover)

Elizabeth Kaye, 75, has given up retirement to reopen her dayhome in Old Crow — the community's only daycare.

"I could not sit and do nothing," she told CBC Yukon's Leonard Linklater on Midday Café.

Kaye had been running the dayhome for 15 years when she retired in 2005 at the age of 65. The small fly-in community, pop. 245, then went without a daycare for 10 years. 

"I thought I was going to stay home and relax," she said of her retirement.

Instead she has re-opened Trinin Tsul Zheh, or Home of Little Children in the Gwitchin language. 

The business is legally called a dayhome and not a daycare because it offers child care in a private residence. Children are dropped off at a small guest house which is beside Kay's home in the community.

Kaye said she's delighted to again spend her time around children.

"I became very fond of the little children. Their presence just made me feel comfortable." 

The dayhome has room for six children and clients range in age from 18 months to 5 years. 

Lack of daycare was 'an obstacle,' says First Nation

The lack of a daycare in Old Crow, had been causing problems for many families and also for the local First Nation. 

In 2012 the The Vuntut Gwitchin Government  passed a resolution to research options for daycare in Old Crow. 

I became very fond of the little children. Their presence just made me feel comfortable- Elizabeth Kaye, manager of Trinin Tsul Zheh

The resolution stated that "lack of child care within the community is disrupting the daily government operations," and also created "an obstacle for hiring potential VGG employees who have children."

The measure passed unanimously but didn't yield a result.  

Kaye said people in the community of about 300 people had been coping in different ways.  

"Most of the parents had home-sitters," she said. "They had their parents or someone in the family who was unemployed took care of their children."

New building will house daycare, elders programs

In April 2014 the Yukon government announced $2.7 million in funding for a new community recreation centre in Old Crow.

The building was announced as a potential space for a daycare as well as facilities for elders, youth and a community radio station.

Kaye says she doesn't plan to move from the guest house. She says Old Crow has enough demand for two childcare centres. 

Meanwhile her son Edward Kyikavichick is working to earn qualifications to help her look after the children.


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