To celebrate their 50th anniversary, the University of Winnipeg Students’ Association (UWSA) Day Care hosted a gathering for families, former staff, and community members on January 19. The event featured fun children’s activities, speeches, and lots of reminiscing.
Since it was established 50 years ago, the day care has seen tremendous change and growth.
The children and staff, we show a big example of how we can be a family and support each other.
“It started in 1974 in the basement of the Bryce Hall with 32 children,” said day care director, Ioulia Berdnikova. “Now we are a 144-space day care, and we have 122 preschool children and 32 infants.”
The day care centre has relocated twice in its 50-year history, finally settling into their high-end, 10,000 square foot location on Furby street in 2009. The centre will soon include a new outdoor play area that broke ground in July of 2023.
While the modern facilities provide an excellent setting for the children who attend the day care, Berdnikova said their commitment to diversity and inclusion has played a huge role in the centre’s longevity.
“The children and staff, we show a big example of how we can be a family and support each other,” she said. “My background is Russian and I have staff from Ukraine. I have the person from Israel working with the person from Palestine, and it’s an example of how different people from different cultures can work together.”
Justin Friesen is a faculty member at The University of Winnipeg. He has one child who attends the UWSA Day Care, and said he appreciates the work the staff puts into providing enriching activities for the children.
“It’s not just babysitting for the day,” he said. “It’s a variety of musical activities and learning activities, of outdoor spaces, and a real sense of caring there.”
The centre currently provides a music program, a yoga program, and a creative movement program. They have also recently introduced a speech and language program, something Berdnikova said many parents couldn’t afford on their own.
“We have a speech pathologist who comes into the centre for several hours a week,” said Berdnikova. “She identified the children who need help, she helped them to get funding, and in the same time she gives them weekly lessons in the day care.”
Because of its unique programs and welcoming community, Berdnikova says she often sees the same families coming back to the centre again and again.
“We have one of the grandmothers 45 years ago she used to work in this day care, and now she has grandchildren who are attending our day care,” Berdnikova said. “We have children who used to come in this day care, now they’re grown up and they have their own children and they want their children just to be in this day care.”
Its proximity to campus has also made the UWSA Day Care a staple for The University of Winnipeg community.
“People who are coming to work or go to school at the University wouldn’t be able to do that without childcare,” said Friesen. “To be able to leave your kids somewhere safe so that you can learn, teach, or support the learning of others, to have that constant presence, is a real benefit to the University and a real great thing to help people succeed on our campus.”