Raising children to be participative members in the community is what Kristy Maier sets her heart to.
As a mom of two daughters, daycare provider of up to eight little ones, school district trustee, basketball board treasurer, member of a new provincial childcare committee, and also a facilitator for a Berry Patch Prince Rupert childcare providers group, her life is centered around the betterment of children’s lives. She is definitely someone ‘in the know’ on many levels where smaller humans are involved.
Born in New Foundland, and moving to the B.C. North Coast with her family when she was just eight years old she has been raised and schooled in the ways of Prince Rupert. She moved away once to Ottawa to attend university but even with family there she found it difficult.
“It wasn’t really my thing” she said. “It was a hard city.”
In the beginning moving from Rupert to Ottawa, she said she went from knowing everybody in town and from walking one end of town to the other without thinking anything of it to a 40-minute commute just to get to work in a city where she knew few people.
She moved through various jobs trying on different hats, such as working for Tim Hortons, in a window coverings store, and then at most children’s favorite store, Toys R Us.
A few months after having her first baby, she became a single mom. The need to provide and the work commitment required took her away from her baby as she was working 12 hour shifts, six days a week during certain times.
“I saw her basically when where was sleeping. It was super hard,” she said. “I lasted three months. A couple of iffy things happened at the daycare and I thought I could do better.”
So Kristy packed up her life in the capital city and came home to Prince Rupert.
“When I came back here, I was like, ‘oh my goodness, I’m back with my people’,” she said. She was happy to get back to her friends from high school, whom she is still friends with today.
“Prince Rupert is very community orientated. I want my kids to know about being part of something, and having that sense of community and depending on your community before they head off and go to wherever they’re going to go.”
When she arrived back in the coastal city she studied through distance learning to become an early childhood educator. With her own personal experiences as a reference and knowing how hard it was for parents to leave their children with others, she wanted to make a difference.
“I opened my own daycare, and I’ve been doing it ever since,” she said.
A good daycare is paramount to a parent’s peace of mind as well as for the comfort of children. Her daycare clients become family to her and many have retained relationships over the years as the children grow.
“It’s awesome,” she said. The very first daycare child, the very first person that signed up with me, they are my family now.”
Running a home daycare is Kristy’s day job. In the evenings you can find her at School District 52 meetings or District Parent Advisory Committee meetings. She is three years into a four-year term as school board trustee. Always being involved with the Parent Advisory Committee at her children’s school, it was a natural transition for her to join the SD 52 board.
“I like being a part of my kid’s education, which is why I wanted to be a part of it. I like to be involved,” the trustee said.
If she was being totally honest she said, it was probably the need to be accountable that spurred her to become involved in education. Running her own business looking after other people’s children she needed to find different ways to be involved for her own family.
“I think at the beginning, it was probably guilt that I couldn’t do pick up and drop off and be that parent that goes into the school to read with the class. I would have loved to have done that. I couldn’t be that parent,” she said. “The PAC was the way could contribute.”
Kristy has found balance with her contributions to education, children, and her own family. While COVID-19 has challenged life for many people in various ways, she said she has actually come to appreciate the online zoom meetings.
With her daughter’s four-day-a-week dance schedule of 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., being a facilitator for the Berry Patch, and also now with a new committee position she has just undertaken on a provincial advisory board, she said her life is like a constantly moving puzzle.
“It’s usually like a game of Tetris or like Rubik’s Cube trying to fit pieces and colours everywhere,” she said. “But I do not find it overwhelming.”
Kristy gives credit to her daughters and her partner for being extremely supportive and before accepting the board position for the childcare provincial advisory board, she considered her family.
“My eldest looked at me and said, why wouldn’t you do it? And I was like OK, thank you. That’s all [the affirmation] I need,”.
With her new advisory appointment and childcare transitioning by 2023 to under the Ministry of Education’s umbrella Kristy said it will be interesting to see how it unfolds as BC is one of the only provinces not currently in that position.
“It will be nice to be able to provide my northern input, as well as my family childcare input. I’m not from a centre. I’m not from a nonprofit. So, it will be nice to have that type of input in there.”
Input into children’s development is important to her and the value stemmed from her own youth. Maier has always a basketball fan, and is also treasurer for the Prince Rupert Minor Basketball Association which is natural for her as a former player and mother of a previous player.
Keeping kids busy and active is an important part of their physical and mental growth, Kristy said. She laughed when recalling how her daughter ‘broke her heart’ when she traded basketball shoes for dance shoes.
“I am not a ‘dance mom’. Like, I don’t know how to braid hair. I had to do YouTube tutorials. I don’t wear makeup … But my daughter absolutely loves it.”
To support her daughter, she said her and a couple of other moms got together and started Dance Academy of Prince Rupert Back Stagers Society.
“And we started that in 2019. It is a way for parents to fundraise. So we put out fundraisers, we do raffles and all the money gets put back into the kids dance account.”
Kristy said she stays busy in the community to make a difference and to teach her own children that it matters what you do.
“Having my kids see that I’m a part of things that are making a difference is important,” she said.
“I want them to see that I’m doing things for our community and for them to make their lives better to make and to be involved in their extracurricular activities and their education. I want them to grow up and be a part of a community.”
K-J Millar | Journalist
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