Dawson family programs seek new home

The Canadian Prenatal Nutrition Program and the Child Development Centre in Dawson are looking for a new home, again. The building they are currently housed in has been sold, and the programs must move by the end of May.

The Canadian Prenatal Nutrition Program and the Child Development Centre in Dawson are looking for a new home, again.

The building they are currently housed in has been sold, and the programs must move by the end of May. It will be the fourth time they have lost their accommodations in two years.

So far the prenatal nutrition program has not found anything suitable, said Angela Van Nostrand, the program director. One place they are looking at would cost them almost $1,000 more per month in rent.

“If we’re going to pay the extra money, we’ll probably have to make cuts to our program in some way or another. So it’s looking a little grim,” said Van Nostrand.

The prenatal nutrition program offers various kinds of support to pre- and postnatal families.

The centre offers free prenatal vitamins for mothers and vitamin D for babies. There is equipment and books available to loan, including strollers, bouncy chairs, maternity clothes and breast pumps.

A family outreach worker offers support such as help with childcare, groceries and cleaning.

“It’s basically whatever the family who is receiving it needs at the time. It’s an incredible service,” said Van Nostrand.

And there are workshops and programming offered through the centre that focus on healthy eating and active living.

The program is very well used, said Van Nostrand. Right now there are 21 families signed up.

But the success of the program depends a lot on the space available, she said.

A kitchen is important for cooking workshops. Laundry and shower facilities are a big help to families who don’t have those things at home.

“Some of our families live in a cabin without running water.”

Living space means programs can take place at the centre. Last summer the centre was temporarily housed in an office space, which meant all programming had to take place off-site. That had a big effect on both what services could be offered and how well-used the program was, said Van Nostrand.

The current location is a standalone house shared with the Child Development Centre, and it’s the most suitable of the three locations Van Nostrand has worked at, she said.

But as rent rises, the program’s federal funding does not. Van Nostrand has seen rent double in under two years, she said.

All the resources spent on finding a new location, on moving and on increased rent are resources taken away from programming.

It’s likely that, during this summer’s move, regular programming will be on hold for three weeks and family support care will pause for two weeks, she said.

Sandy Silver, the Liberal MLA for the Klondike, urged the Yukon government this week to help the programs find a new home.

Heath Minister Doug Graham responded that the government has looked at options to house the programs in the new hospital, the new McDonald Lodge and the old McDonald Lodge, but none of those options were found to be appropriate. The Yukon Housing Corporation has been asked to look at its stock to see if there is a space that might work.

Van Nostrand has hope that a permanent solution will come in a few years, she said.

The daycare in Dawson is working on a proposal to look at a new family resource centre that would house the daycare, the prenatal nutrition program and the child development centre, said Van Nostrand.

“If funding goes through and they are able to have some help with the building of the site, then it would really benefit our community in so many ways. So we’re really hoping that this housing problem sees an end in the next three to five years.”

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at


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