What is AHSUNC?

Aboriginal Head Start in Urban and Northern Communities (AHSUNC) is an early intervention preschool program designed for urban and northern (off-reserve) Aboriginal children in Canada. There are 12 programs located throughout British Columbia. AHSUNC receives funding and support from the Public Health Agency of Canada.

The primary goals of AHSUNC are to support the early childhood development of Aboriginal children and to instill pride in their Aboriginal (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) heritage. It focuses primarily on 3 – 5 year olds with the intent of bringing them to the school readiness stage in order to help ensure an easy transition into kindergarten.

The AHS program is guided by ‘Principles and Guidelines’ which were developed by Health Canada and the National Aboriginal Head Start Council in consultation with the Aboriginal community across Canada including parents, Elders and other community members. They serve as the basis for comprehensive Aboriginal Head Start standards of service delivery. Local projects are encouraged to develop their own principles and guidelines that address the centre’s more specific needs.

The foundation of the AHSUNC programs are the ‘Six Program Components’ which are taken from the Principles and Guidelines: These are Culture and Language; Education and School Readiness; Health Promotion; Nutrition; Social Support; and Parent and Family Involvement.

The AHS preschools operate under the direction of Parent Advisory Councils (PAC). The requirement that parents and guardians become active participants in their children’s education is a unique strength of the AHS program. In learning about and sharing their own gifts, they become effective leaders in their family’s education.

To learn more, download the free Narrative Report compiled to celebrate the 15th Anniversary of AHSUNC in BC.