Karolyn Bonneau

"Being from two different places at the same time gives me an abundance of culture, language, family, home, and community. I am grateful for having such abundance I hope to bring this into my work and share with Early childhood educators to see the abundance in themselves, their roles, in their centres, within the children, the families, and the communities they work with. It is the right time to start looking at what makes us special. Time to start asking ourselves: What are we good at? What makes us who we are? How have we overcome adversities? Limlimpt"

Wai, I am Syilx/Ktunaxa. Iskwist insumacin, KAROLYN BONNEAU. I come from the Okanagan Nation, in Penticton BC and the Kootenay Nation, in Cranbrook BC. Being a part of two very distinct communities that have strong traditional and cultural values I struggled when I was younger to find a place where I belonged. As I grew up and settled in the Okanagan and had children, I realized this to be a blessing, to have such strong roots and ties to both communities. I have learned language and traditional/cultural practices from my late maternal and late paternal grandmothers who watch over us now. My tuwi, paternal grandma being Ktunaxa, was a strong language speaker and taught us very strictly the Ktunaxa language, always loved the idea that my children who are born and raised as Syilx would call her Tupa which is a shortened version of great grandma in Nsyilxcen. She would say she loved being a “tupa” and never corrected my children or told them any different. This made me realize that it is important to be Ktunaxa and that it is important to be a “tupa” at the same time. My grandmothers got along really well maybe not at first but as long as I can remember they always conversed and shared stories and had serious and very funny visits. This taught me to be proud of where I come from, to get along with everyone, and most importantly to be adaptable. Being in Early childhood education was not something I thought of for myself, I sort of just fell into this field. I had the opportunity in 2014 to take the Aboriginal early childhood program credited from NVIT offered at the Enowkin centre on the Penticton Indian band. There were a number of language courses that we needed to take to fulfill the certificate needs and from there I started on the path of learning, speaking, and then teaching Nsyilxcen. I started out as an ECE assistant and was fortunate to gain work experience at our community childcare centre. I saw the need for our communities to have certified early childhood educators and I did not stop my education. I kept on taking the early childhood educator certificate, and then the infant and toddler and special needs certificates. I had opportunities to apply for managerial and supervisory positions and was not successful. I was told I could never teach Nsyilxcen, that there were so many others who knew more and that our fluent speakers are the ones who teach. Both situations did not discourage me, they only made me realize what I wanted out of life. I did eventually become the language teacher and by default got supervisory roles. What I noticed though was that these positions and roles had so many of us fighting tooth and nail to get in and get chosen that eventually caused lots of turmoil among educators some of who moved on. I wondered why is it that we must always be fighting or proving that we can be “manager”;”supervisor”;”language teacher”; or even be seen as “teacher.” I moved onto another centre in our nation and helped supervise the manager’s infant and toddler practicum because in our nations and in the field infant and toddler and special needs certificates are scarce. I supervised many practicums in all three of these areas but what I noticed was that it was not the certified educators we are struggling to fill. It is in positions to help advocate for policies and best practices especially when it comes to language and culture and supporting our children and families who are enrolled and attend our programs. Most importantly for me, it was to give space and voices to our educators who do this work on a daily basis and who are underappreciated and not recognized because of technicalities. So, I pursued higher education and completed the Bachelor of Early childhood care and education at Capilano University. I still feel there is so much more I need to do and currently, I am in the Master of Education program at UBC. I see so much potential in the childcare centres in all our nations and my passion is to work with educators to start to value where their place in the world is, where they belong, and empower how they view themselves. I am currently residing in the Vancouver area. I do not think it would have been possible to uproot my own family and move to the big city if I did not already know how to be from two different places at that same time and wear many titles. Limlimpt.

Connect with Karolyn Bonneau

Aqam, St.Mary's Indian band Territory | KB
Snpinktn | KB