Working in ECEC

Aimee Clark

Aimee Clark: Child Care Advocate, Yellowknife, Northwest Territories

Aimee Clark has been involved in child care for almost 30 years without ever being paid. That’s because most of her work has been as a child care advocate.

She was once on the board of a centre in Fort Smith that was “so underfunded I worked there for nothing. I said I would volunteer until we could do something about the funding.” The centre was destroyed by fire in 2003.

The child care needs of rural and remote families can be very different from those in urban areas. In Fort Smith, “there were parents working in the diamond mines who went in for two weeks and came out for two weeks so they didn’t want to pay for full day care,” Smith says. “We also had students at Aurora College from across the North and we had to do lots around our fees to accommodate them.”

Sometimes, students would resort to bringing in family members to look after their children. “What were these relatives giving up to leave their community to come to Fort Smith to look after the children?”

Clark, a single mother of five, is the Director of Finance and Administration at the YWCA in Yellowknife. An active member of Alternative North, a social justice group, and the NWT board member and International Secretary for the National Anti-Poverty Organization, she has recently been working to re-establish the Northwest Territories Child Care Association.

“We need a voice from the territories at the national level and we don’t have that now,” says Clark. “We have a really valuable contribution to make at the national level.”

There is also a desperate need for advocacy at the territorial level. “We have a huge booming economy and a real push to try to get people into the workforce, but there’s a huge barrier because not all communities have child care spaces.”