The historic Craigflower Schoolhouse is now officially home to a first-of-its-kind program on Vancouver Island.

JLC Victoria Japanese Preschool, the first-ever Japanese- immersion preschool, has opened its doors at the historic site in Saanich.

Principal Yuri Pomeroy says the curriculum focuses on teaching Japanese language and culture.

“When I moved to Canada, I didn’t want my kids to lose their Japenese heritage,” Pomeroy said. “I wanted them to have their Japanese identity, and now we are giving other little kids that opportunity.”

The inaugural class started in October of last year.

There are currently 12 children from across Greater Victoria enrolled in the preschool.

Staff say it gives students an opportunity to discover and explore their Japanese heritage while growing up in Canada.

“I speak to [my daughter] in Japanese every day, but it is very hard to continue to do it all the time,” said one parent.

“It’s so easy for her to lose her Japanese-language speaking ability, so now that she is at this preschool she is immersed in it every day.”

Staff believe that early education is vital for bilingual education in kids, and all of the language learning material is from Japan.

The opening of the preschool is a step right direction for those in Victoria’s Japanese community.

The school also offers Japanese summer programs for students up to grade five.

“I think she will have a better understanding of what it means to be half-Japanese even though she lives here in Canada,” explained the parent.

Ceilidh Millar