Regional Coordinator & Aboriginal Engagement Coordinator

Darlene Westerman

Phone:  250.638.1863


Community Coordinators

Houston:  Marian Ells

Kitimat and Kitamaat: Angie Maitland

Lisim's Early Learning Partnership (Nass Valley/Nisga'a):  Liza Haldane

Smithers:  Kathy Petursson

Stewart:  Christina Smith

Stikine:  Position currently vacant

Upper Skeena:  Joanne Saunders

Terrace Make Children First Network:  Sasa Loggins

Communities We Serve

Atlin, Dease Lake, Houston, Hazelton, Gingolx, Gitanmax, Gitanyow, Gitlaxt’aamiks, Gitsegukla, Gitwangak, Gitwinksihlkw, Glen Vowel, Hagwilget, Iskut, Kispiox, Kispiox Village,  Kispiox Valley, Kitamaat Village, Kitimat, Kitselas, Kitsumkalum, Laxgalts’ap, Lower Post, New Hazelton, Smithers, South Hazelton, Stewart, Stikine, Telegraph Creek, Terrace, Two Mile

Supporting Children & Families in the Northwest

The Northwest Initiative has a dual focus of regional coordination and funding support for the communities we serve. One of our primary goals is to provide a network of information and resources for early year’s professionals and families in all communities in our large geographic area extending from the coast inland to Houston and north to the BC/Yukon border.   We partner with Children First in the region to ensure that every community has access to support or funds to plan for and address their early year’s needs.

We organize provincially developed regional events such as Planning for the Seasons and Granny & Grampa trainings and provide travel and accommodation subsidy for professionals across the region.   When communities organize workshops, we provide travel support so they can open the events to other communities in the region. When communities develop resources like the Early Childhood Development Wheel adapted by the Houston ECD Committee or the Getting Ready for Kindergarten poster developed by the Upper Skeena ECD Network, we share and customize to defray costs and spread good ideas for raising awareness.

We partner with other northern regions. This year Prince Rupert, Haida Gwaii and Northwest worked together to develop and produce Northwest Early Years Calendars, customized with pictures and content to reflect each of our regions.  The calendars are distributed free to families and caregivers of children prenatal to 6 in all communities in the northwest.

Many of the communities in the region are remote and separated from each other by geographic distance and lack of public transportation.  Some communities or related clusters of communities receive funding for Early Years coordination, others, often smaller and remote, access project funding for literacy activities, parent-child programs and outreach and awareness activities that respond to their unique community needs.

The Initiative recognizes and stresses the importance of early identification. Several communities host early year’s fairs or events such as:

  • An annual Teddy Bear’s Picnic in Houston,
  • The Family Health Fair in Stewart,
  • Two annual Salmonberry Fairs which rotate from community to community in the Nass Valley,
  • A Welcoming Baby ceremony in Kitamaat Village
  • The Gitsegukla Toddler Fair and the “Let’s Play in Gitsenmix” Day.

The day’s events include health, parenting and early development information, developmental screening opportunities, cultural and developmentally appropriate activities and are the result of a variety of community partnerships.

Our regional Early Years team includes community Early Years Coordinators, regional representatives from Northern Health, Lead Partners from Northern Savings Credit Union, the United Way of Northern British Columbia and the Ministry of Children and Family Development and ad hoc members from education, recreation and local family serving agencies.