The philosophy of Ayás Mén̓men is to enhance the lives of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw children, their families, and the community by providing a caring, supportive, and vital community service. We walk alongside families in their journey, providing restorative, holistic, and culturally-grounded family services.
Ayás Mén̓men equips children, youth, and families with life skills, supports, education, and training to be able to live a healthy life and to walk with guidance, confidence, support, and identity in the life they choose. Through a safe, fun, holistic, and cultural approach, our goal is to ensure that every child has safety, protection, security, love, guidance, spirituality, healing, and respect in their lives.
We support family capacity-building to help families take responsibility to care for each other, from youngest to oldest. The department assists families with advocacy, emotional support through crisis, and prevention so that Nation Members are able to support and empower one another.
Ayás Mén̓men Reception
Address: Unit 2, 380 Welch Street, West Vancouver, BC V7P 0A7
Mailing Address: PO Box 51570, 911 Park Royal South, West Vancouver, BC V7T 1A0
Director: Kelley McReynolds, Yataltenat
“Ayás Mén̓men” could be interpreted as “peace to our children,” which reflects a fundamental element of our mandate and vision. The name was given to us by our Elders in 1993.
Growing Together, Early Years, Child & Parent Supports
The family program provides proactive prevention and education strategies to all Skwxwú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) families with children 0-6. The team coordinates programs year-round designed to help parents and children learn about lifespan development skills, family dynamics, developmental milestones, health and nutrition and to receive training in Squamish language, culture, social and family traditions.
The Mother Bear Development Centre Programs provide proactive prevention and education strategies to all Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw families. The three centres — two in North Vancouver (Mother Bear, Mother Bear Capilano) and one in Squamish Valley (Ayas Lam) — have regularly-scheduled programs with a team of specialists and staff to assist parents with family issues, providing one-on-one support, workshops, and other activities.
The team coordinates and promotes a year-round schedule of programs designed to help parents and children learn about life skills, family dynamics, and to receive training in the Squamish language, cultural, social, and family traditions. The purpose is to:
In keeping with a First Nations perspective, Head Start takes a holistic approach. The programs are built around the whole child and are responsive to the community environment within which the child is growing up.
Chésha7 Mix̱álh mén̓men (Mother Bear Child Development) offers two licensed child development programs:
Both programs are licensed for 16 children ages 30 months to 5 years, with four spaces available for children 30-36 months.
Children can attend until they start Grade 1. We are required by BC Child Care Licensing Regulation to have a staff to child ratio of 1 staff to 8 children. However, we strive to lower this ratio to 1:4 whenever possible.
Additional services offered:
ASCD enables children who require additional supports to be included in child care settings and communities. Such inclusion allows children to participate in settings that will support their development along with their peers and allows them to grow and learn in a safe and nurturing environment.
Our SLP is available to talk with families about their child’s communication development and support families to encourage speech and language development into their everyday routines. The SLP is also able to screen and assess speech and language development and work directly with children to develop their language skills.
Our OT provides screening, assessment, and intervention services to children enrolled in Mother Bear Child Development Program. An OT identifies routines in which learning opportunities can be embedded and determine strategies which will best address identified goals and reflect family priorities. OTs also help to identify and understand differences in sensory processing and to modify sensory environments which children find challenging. Services focus on helping the child become successful in daily routines and participation in home and daily life.
Physiotherapists evaluate motor challenges. Working in collaboration with parents and other caregivers, physiotherapists systematically address the child’s motor development difficulties through therapeutic activities in various environments. The ultimate goal of therapy is to help each child live, move, and participate in life as independently as possible.
Ayás Mén̓men provides the Skwxwú7mesh Úxwumixw membership with delegated child and family services (Family Support Services, Guardianship Services, and Resource Care Homes) pursuant to the British Columbia Child, Family and Community Service Act. Our agency is in compliance with provincial standards.
The team assists families with advocacy, emotional support through crisis, and prevention. They help families create and achieve personal goals. The goal of the team is to provide cultural and community-centered services that respect the best interests and rights of the children, in an environment that provides them with safety and security, and that enables them to ultimately achieve their full potential as healthy, competent, well-adjusted people with pride in their identity as members of their Nation. These goals are achieved within a strong and supportive family and community.
The ultimate goal for the social workers is to create self-sustaining families through the combined effort of their family members, our team and support services. As a result, Nation families are able to support and empower one another.
Ayás Mén̓men social workers accompany our members to provide support and understanding about the process. Social workers are available each day to answer questions and respond to concerns about services for Members.
Family Care Homes for Ayás Mén̓men children in care are recruited, studied, opened, and supported by the resource workers.
We work collaboratively with families and other resources to deliver child safety and family support and prevention services. We provide information for families on how to navigate our services, potential child safety concerns, and outline our family preservation and reunification programs to support families through their journey.
We offer activities and programs that directly support families at risk to mitigate risk factors and prevent them from further escalating. Our services, activities and programming promoting Squamish culture and traditional teachings.
We work with parents, caregivers, and youth and children. By providing intensive one on one support, education, group and therapeutic work to community members, we can help prevent any concerns or issues from escalating.
We focus on the well-being of Squamish children and youth who have come into a continuing care order. Our approach is situated with the child at the centre of their circle of support, surrounded by family and community. Together, we hold a shared vision of reducing the number of children in care through a commitment of developing child-specific lifelong plans with an emphasis on returning to family, extended family and community.
The mandate of the Resource team is to provide safe alternate care for Squamish children when needed, as well as promotes and respects their well-being and cultural identity. The goal of the Resource Team is to provide, support and monitor placements for children in care of Ayas Menmen and to protect their connection to Squamish culture and family.
Ayás Chap – Peace to all
The Ayás Mén̓men wellness team offers a range of wellness, support, and therapeutic services to Squamish Nation community members – this includes traditional & cultural wellness supports, counselling for children, parents and families and therapeutic and wellness groups. Our work is grounded in trauma-informed and inclusive practices, and we utilize Squamish values and teachings in our work.
We provide a confidential and judgement free space for children, youth and families to work through challenges while exploring their unique strengths. We offer access to traditional ways of healing, intensive family support, child & youth therapy (art, expressive, land-based), family therapy, therapeutic support groups and community events that promote wellness and healing.
Please see the Ayás Mén̓men facebook page for all our upcoming programs
Child & Youth Therapy
Therapeutic & Support Groups
These groups include:
Coming in 2023:
Nexwniwnitway (“nough-nay-owe-nate-why”) means to seek counsel, as in the sense of mutual intent to discuss, resolve, act, and follow up. The goal is to re-introduce, re-learn, and reinstate Squamish ways as part of service provider practice and service delivery to Squamish children and families. The objective is to provide Nation families who come before the Ministry or Family Court with child protection issues, with a voluntary alternative for planning for the future care of their child/children.
We accept referrals for family circles from Nation service providers on any issues relating to Squamish children and families. Participants include: parents, extended family members, service providers, program specialists, Elders, cultural teachers, and circle facilitators and co-facilitators.
The child and youth workers provide support by having a safe, fun, holistic and cultural approach when working with our youth at the youth centre, youth programs, youth camps, and one-on-one support services. The emphasis is on cultural training, life skills, emotional support, and building self-esteem.
We help youth find meaningful connections in their community. The general practice and philosophy is to actively reach out to community youth to support the physical, emotional, nutritional, and spiritual well-being of the youth, to encourage life skills development, and provide cultural teachings. Over the years, the Youth Services program has participated in coordinating canoe journeys, youth camps, workshops, community honouring celebrations, fitness classes, and life skills courses.
Through life-changing programs, community-based services, and relationships with peers and caring adults, Ayás Mén̓men Youth Services can help children and youth develop the skills and connections they need to be healthy contributing adults. Having one or more caring adults in a child’s life can prevent issues like bullying and crime so that children can grow into healthier, more giving and more compassionate adults.
Referral or access process:
Youth centre drop-in
Registration for camps and programs
1-1 support: Self-referral, registration, social worker referral
The Youth Centre, located at 100A Capilano Road, North Vancouver, is open from 3pm – 8pm, Monday to Friday, Saturday 12-8