After months of thought and deliberation, Healthy Beginnings now has a new name. The organization has been a cornerstone of the community since 1999, and its new name is meant to reflect its responsibilities and honour those it has served for almost 20 years.
“We felt very strongly, especially in the spirit of reconciliation, that a change in name was necessary,” said Program Manager Lisa Tallio. “It didn’t happen overnight; it was a long process involving elders, cultural leaders, and community members.”
Tallio explained that the name Nuslhiixwta – meaning “a place of treasures” – was chosen after much discussion around the programs the organization delivers. These programs are aimed at the most vulnerable and most precious individuals in the community: babies and young children.
“The bulk of our programming is aimed at ages 0 – 6,” said Tallio. “Many names were considered, but we all agreed that this one was perfect.”
Tallio, who has been Program Manager since the beginning of 2018, says the organization has undergone structural and staffing changes, but the aim of the programs remains the same.
“Nuslhiixwta employs a strength-based approach to all of its programming and we are a powerful Nuxalk resource,” Tallio explained. “Our funding is provided by the Ministry of Children and Family Development but the Nuxalk Nation is responsible for delivering the services.”
Nuslhiixwta is technically a Pregnancy Outreach and Early Childhood Development Centre, and its programs are intended to support expectant mothers, infants, children, youth, and families.
“Our programs are open and available to the entire Bella Coola Valley,” said Tallio. “We are are not an exclusive organization, we are inclusive.”
Nuslhiixwta delivers its programming in six main departments: the Aboriginal Infant Development Program, the Aboriginal Supported Child Development Program, Speech and Language, FASD, Family Support Work, and Nutrition and Lactation support.
“What aligns all of our programming is our client-based approach,” said Tallio. “We see families for their uniqueness and their own personal strengths. Our staff will work with families and individuals to see where they’re coming from and what their goals are: that’s how we deliver our services.”
Nuslhiixwta’s team now includes Carmen Hans, Speech and Language Assistant, Anne Hans, Aboriginal Supported Child Dev’t consultant, Cindy Siwallace, Aboriginal Infant Development program consultant, Mara Pootlass and Louise Hopkins, Family Support work and Liz Howard, Nutrition and Lactation Consultant.
Anyone interested in accessing Nuslhiixwta’s services or learning more about their programs can drop in at their location on Burke Avenue, give them a call at 250 799 5914 or look them up on Facebook.