Promoting the health of Mothers, Babies, Fathers & Communities


The Liard Basin Task Force was formed in 1988 to look at and address issues and concerns around alcohol & drug abuse in the community. Funded in 1988 by Health Canada’s “National Drug Strategy”, the community spent four years working on community development strategies addressing prevention, intervention and treatment models. During this time the community put in place two alcohol & drug workers to work on the treatment model plan developed by our Kaska First Nation people and the local community. Community resource workers were trained and a treatment camp was started in 1990/91. The Task Force then began to recognize that it was time to put some support systems in place for children and families.

Funded by Health Canada in 1993 a seven-month community development phase was completed by 16 local groups. A coalition for children was formed over the seven-month period and the community identified 9 areas of priority. Health Canada would accept only one application from the community so we combined all our needs and came up with one proposal.

The areas identified were:

  1. Access to affordable playgroup (preschool) promoting early childhood development
  2. Programs for children who came from substance abuse families
  3. Programs for children who suffer from trauma of sexual, physical or emotional abuse
  4. Programs that increase language proficiency for children who start out behind in the school system.
  5. Resource Centre Library for parents, caregivers and resource agencies who work with children.
  6. Importance of health education for parents, caregivers through a home visiting outreach program
  7. Caregiver training for all workers of children in the area of Early Childhood, First Aid and safety.
  8. Education and training for caregivers, parents to help empower them to better look after their children.
  9. To link with Whitehorse Yukon, Coalition groups in the area of mental health, child development for referral, testing, intervention for families and training opportunities.

In 1994 Health Canada through the HPPB stream funded 6 CAPC programs for the Liard Basin Area. In 1996 we added another component, “prenatal nutrition”, identified after our community evaluation under the CPNP programs.

Today the LBTF runs 7 children’s programs funded by CAPC/CPNP. We provide services to four communities. The Catchments area’s is Liard, Two Mile, Watson Lake and Lower Post.

The programs available are:

  • “I Am Me” Self Esteem Building program
  • Creative Playgroup “Pre School Program”
  • Watson Lake Toy Library (catalogued and data based on developmental stages)
  • Children’s Festival/ Public Awareness Celebration CAPC/CPNP (once a year)
  • Community Children & Families Resource Library (resource information parents, books & videos)
  • Cargiver Training (professional development for caregivers of our children)
  • Healthy Mom’s Healthy Babies (prenatal nutrition program)

“I Am Me” Self Esteem Building Program started in 1994 as a program for children who witnessed violence. After the first year, parents reshaped and modeled this program into a self –esteem program. Ten months, September – June the program is outreached to four communities and services are provided in the Schools, Daycares, Day homes and Aboriginal Headstart Program. July and August we run a summer program for the children called “Crocodile Days”.

Those children who are in the regular program all year have an opportunity to socially interact with others and do fun filled activities and participate in field trips where they can practise the skills learned in their program.Since 1994, 205 children have gone through this program. Approximately 78 % are First Nation children.

Watson Lake Creative Playgroup Preschool program was started in 1994. This program addresses social development, nutrition, physical fitness, cognitive fina and gross motor skills and a language component.

Since 1994 Playgroup has had 238 children go through their preschool program. This has averaged about 38-45 % First Nation with 38 % being children with special needs.

Toy Lending Library was started in 1994 to meet the needs of the community and address issues and concerns with low-income families and childcare services. The community identified a need for access to educational and developmental toys and resources for children. Many of our Children’s projects utilize these toys with their program themes and one on one with high – risk children.

At present all toys are on a database and can be accessed by age and development stages of children. Access is by a library card only.

In a population of 1200 people, we have 174 families and 27 children’s groups that are registered and access toys. Each quarter we turn over 2000 –2300 toys. A coordinator is hired 20 hrs a week to keep the Toys disinfected and inventoried.

The community, parents and caregivers identified Caregiver Training as a priority. We work and coordinate with our local Campus to bring in Early Childhood Development, Standard First Aid, Child Safe and Food Safe for all the caregivers who work with children in our community.

Since 1994 all caregivers of children in our community have been helped with Upgrading, ECD and Safety training. We have had 25-30 people taking the ECD. Many are at all different levels as this is done through teleconference once a week. We have about 8 of these caregivers working in their second year of ECD. Others are completing their first year and some are just beginning first year. All Caregivers are completing their education once a week in the evenings through our local Campus.

We have one graduate that tutors and assist other caregivers at the local Campus.

Child Development Centre Outreach Program We are very fortunate through the Whitehorse Child Development Centre’s Outreach Program every 6-8 weeks coming to the community. All children’s projects can refer children and families for assessment if they recognize or suspect developmental, social or physical problems within our programs.

The CDC and Partners for Children “Yukon College” also provides our Caregivers many other opportunities for training. If there is something the Coalition identifies and is needed, we book a time and plan the additional training as requested by the caregivers. We try to do an additional training component each quarter.

All Caregivers in our community Coalition from the Daycare’s, Day homes, Aboriginal Headstart and Creative Playgroup are part of this training. They help to give direction and input into the training needs through networking sessions or phone calls quarterly.

We are very grateful to our local Campus who provide the space and accommodate our community workers.
At present we average about 22-25 child caregivers trained a year.

Resource Library CAPC/CPNP was identified as a need for local caregivers and parents to be able to assist with the development of project programming, parenting and developmental issues when working with children.

We have found that the children’s caregivers for daily and monthly planning sign many of our resources out. The caregivers who are taking their ECD Courses access many resources to assist them with their studies.

Our resources are all catalogued and are updated and handed out to all our child coalition groups.

Children’s CAPC/CPNP/ and Aboriginal Headstart access 60% of Resources Programs, 40 % are accessed by parents, families and prenatal moms.

Children’s Festival “Teddy Bears Picnic” is held once a year in collaboration with our local Recreation Centre/ Town of Watson Lake and the CAPC Coalition groups. In 1995 our local mayor at the time declared November 20th as Children’s Day in Watson Lake.

This is a special day to celebrate our successes with all our coalition partners and the children in the community. Community groups have an opportunity to share their program content and resources with parents and families.

We have just completed our 11th year celebration with over 261 people in attendance in attendance were 41 infants, 147 children3-6years and 63 parents and 16caregivers. Children are picked up by bus at the daycares, day homes, elementary school and transportation is also provided to and from the First Nation communities. Upon arrival all children receive a “teddy bear”. Games and activities are held for the children for two hrs. and then we serve a picnic for everyone in attendance.

Prizes and bears are ordered in advance of the Festival. The Coordinator and facilitators of CAPC/ CPNP and the Recreation /Town of Watson Lake Programmer set up, decorate the hall and plan the games and activities. Usually our grad class or French Club plan the menu and our local W.L. Campus serves and prepares the food for the participants. The games and activities are all supervised and run by 20-25 Grade 7’s from Johnson Elementary School. Pictures available through home page link.

Healthy Mom’s Healthy Babies was started in 1996. This is a CPNP/ Prenatal Nutritional program outreached to four communities. This program focuses on breastfeeding, nutrition and educational programming for moms at –risk. Included in this programming is a Parents & Tots group held once a week, a Community Kitchen once a month for teen mom’s and most recently we have worked with two local resource people and incorporated a Nobody’s Perfect Parenting program for CPNP mom’s and other parents in the community.

This program outreaches to four communities four days week and offers office visits on Friday. We work in collaboration with Public Health, local First Nations Health, DR’s Office, Child Development Centre, Partners for Children, Social Service and Yukon Family Services.

We have had over 192 moms, pre and postnatal go through our CPNP program since start up in 1996. Some of these babies are 10 years years of age and are in grade 4-5-or and have also gone through our CAPC Creative Playgroup Preschool program.

Celebrating Our Success:

The community held an appreciation and awards night for all the Coalition partners and community members.

Some excerts from this night are shared here:

Today is a special day, long overdue. We come together to celebrate our successes and to thank our funding partners, our coalition partners and most importantly our parents and community members.

It has been 11 years since we put together our letters of intent to Health Canada. The community development phas was 1992-1993. Our programs started for CAPC in 1994 and CPNP Prenatal Nutrition in 1996.

CAPC supports community coalitions in establishing and delivering programs and services that respond to the health & development needs of children up to six years of age.

Guiding Principles: Common threads linking all CAPC/CPNP projects:

  • children first/mothers & babies first
  • strengthening & supporting families
  • equity & accessibility
  • flexibility
  • community based
  • partnerships

These guiding principles provide a strong foundation for program development and delivery

We have demonstrated tremendous success in developing and maintaining mutually beneficial partnerships with a wide variety of organizations and private sectors, such as our coalition partners and small business. Also today we are celebrating our 130 babies born in our prenatal program since 1996.

Lessons learned:

Professional human service approaches often overemphasize the deficits and needs of individuals and communities rather than their assets and capabilities. These approaches sometimes crowd the local community out of the process of defining solutions and strategies. While it is not true that local people are the only experts, a marriage must be found between the service system and the “community way” of assessing & solving problems so there is a partnership between the two. We feel we have done this through our Coalition and partners.

Helping systems have difficulty dealing with issues of diversity. There is a need at times to change the modes of service delivery to be able to respond to new diverse groups. Recognizing diversity means developing alternative modes of delivery that are culturally relevant to the needs of the community.

Empowering families and communities to have a competent system that includes formal & informal elements has been a goal for us. We work very hard not to duplicate efforts, to collaborate and network on a regular bases with local partner and coalition members. The local Task Force feels we have made a good attempt at this as partners & coalition members. In conclusion I would like to thank the community for their support, friendships, collaboration over the past 10 years.

Capacity Building:

Capacity building is about strengthening the environments that affect the lives of families and children by creating conditions that lead to successful outcomes. Initiatives developed in isolation may not be as effective as initiatives developed from capacity building, ecological perspective. Based on population health principals, this approach to improving services is more economical in the long term than a “top down” approach to planning and delivery services. For children to be able to thrive, they must live in a thriving family within a thriving community.

Both formal & informal networks at the community level are built on relationships that take time, expertise and resources to develop & nurture. No single overall approach or initiative will be the most appropriate for every community, due to the complex and diverse needs of the people living in those communities. This adds to the challenge of building healthy communities in which children and families flourish.

The related economic downturn in our community has impacted upon the private sector in terms of lower profits and job losses. In difficult times such as these, we typically see an increase in public scepticism over spending for social services. Despite well-founded research and policies, there is a tendency to adopt the belief that social services are a drain on public resources that do not make a difference. However, in stressful, uncertain times, the resiliency of a community is directly related to its investment in human social capital.

We continue to build capacity through partnerships, coalition building and human resource development within the “Children Caregivers” in our community. Making sure that we get people certified to teach others in the community is one example of building long-term capacity. One of our priorities is making sure people are qualified to work with children & families.

It is incorrect to assume that communities can succeed in isolation, and that any government or sector “influence” is inherently bad. Communities need social infrastructure, resources and support to succeed, not to mention the help of government and intermediary voluntary-sector organizations.

Events This summer we will be having a swimming program for mothers and babies from 11am to 1pm, every mondays and every fridays. Come to the office before 11am and we will pay you in.