May 31, 2017 (Ottawa, ON) –In recognition of the continued impact of colonization on the way Indigenous children experience care and education, the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is partnering with Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) to develop an Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework that will ensure culturally-appropriate child care that is reflective of the unique needs of First Nations and Métis children and families.
Many low-income Indigenous families are currently excluded from accessing high-quality child care services. Without the availability of other affordable options, children are placed into care that mimics an institutionalized environment and supports a continued process of colonization and assimilation.
Children with disabilities are not properly supported, culturally-appropriate care is not available, and understaffed facilities create a lack of capacity.
The delivery of quality early learning techniques and child care is central to the healthy development and a strong determining factor of children’s future success. In relationship to the stark contrast between the realities faced by Indigenous children and the necessary steps towards reconciliation, NWAC Interim President Francyne D. Joe offers the following:
“It is unacceptable that Indigenous children continue to receive poorer services than the non-Indigenous children of Canada. Our culture recognizes the value of each individual and celebrates their gifts in a way that gives our children a strong sense of self-worth and belonging; their childhoods are incomplete without learning these values and practicing these traditions. We look forward to working with Employment and Social Development Canada on co-developing an Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework that will create a place of learning that foster pride in our children and sets them on an early path to success.”
NWAC and ESDC have already begun grassroots engagement with Indigenous women to gain insight into positive change that can help shape the development of the Framework. Family members, communities, early childhood educators, and experts have been engaged through online surveys and roundtable sessions across the country.
Today, ESDC continues their online engagement process as it launches a new program aimed at hearing the stories and recommendations from Indigenous people across the country on early learning and child care. NWAC encourages Indigenous women who use early learning and child care programs to share their stories and ideas in English, French, or Indigenous languages until the session closes in July of 2017.
For more information or to participate in the online engagement session with the Government of Canada, visit the Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care engagement process web page here.
To complete NWAC’s online engagement survey, click here.
To learn more about the engagement sessions and to learn more about the final report click here.