Pangnirtung playgroup needs permanent digs

Fund-raising underway to renovate old portable-building



PANGNIRTUNG – The Pangnirtung Preschool Program is looking for a long-term location.

“We’ve been kind of everywhere,” said Sheena Machmer, the hamlet’s community-wellness coordinator.

There’s been a preschool program in the community for a few years, but it’s had to make do with whatever space it can find.

Last year, the program was held for part of the year in one of the hamlet’s schools, then moved to the other school, and then to the community centre.

The playgroup is still being offered at the centre, but the situation isn’t ideal, Machmer said.

“It’s adjoined to the hamlet office,” she explained. “It’s a working place and a lot of the time, especially in winter, the pipes will be freezing. There will be no bathrooms and when other people in the community need the space, we always get bumped, like when the justice people come in, and for community meetings.”

Bulletin boards in Pangnirtung display posters asking for money so that one of the schools’ old portable buildings can be renovated for playgroup use.

“We were approved for that building, but it needs to be upgraded,” Machmer said.

Drywall must be put up and some electrical work done before it’s deemed suitable for occupation. Machmer said they’ve been waiting for more than a month for someone to provide a cost estimate on the renovations.

On an average day, Machmer said, 15-20 kids come to the playgroup, some with their families. The group operates five days a week for three and a half hours in the afternoon.

“We offer craft hour for arts and crafts and on different days there are different group activities planned, different games and things,” she said.

The program also provides a healthy snack once a day, as well as an hour of parent-child interactive play. Soon they’ll be starting a story-telling time, where elders will talk to the children.

There is a daycare centre in the community, but its space is limited. The program is important, Machmer said, because it’s the only place in Pangnirtung where preschoolers can learn to play with others.

Machmer said she’d like to start renovations as soon as possible, but that depends on how quickly cash can be raised. So far, no money has been donated. Parents with children in the program have offered supportive words and volunteered their time, though.

“If we get all the materials, there’s a Grade 10 class here at the high school that are trying to hold an apprentice-training program,” she said. “We might have some of the students help fix up the place,” which would help keep labour costs down.

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