Network Member’s work is being developed both with and among First Nations and other Indigenous practices, initiatives, practitioners, and communities and in leading conversations among Indigenous and non-Indigenous practices, approaches, issues and research in ELCC. First Nations ‘pedagogists’ are connected to existing BCACCS professional development and also to First Nations ELCC framework implementation in addition to ECPN initiatives and activities. Responsive to the unique priorities of their contexts and communities, and on account of the nature of evolving First Nations social policy, the projects they lead involve a diversity of topics and participants in early learning and child care in First Nations communities. As projects mature they will be summarized here, additionally with related documentation and opportunities for engagement.
Wet'suwet'en Early Childhood Curriculum
Working together with Elders, educators and administrators of the Witsuwit’en Child and Family Center, Charmayne Nikal is leading a generative process that is surfacing Wet’suwt’en values, visions and practices for educating children. During regular meetings (occurring mainly online under current conditions), Charmayne, Elders and professional and community colleagues engage in meaningful and generative conversations that center Indigenous knowledges and practices. Guided by the seven principles of Jo-ann Archibald’s Indigenous Storywork, Charmayne brings respect, responsibility, reciprocity, reverence, holism, interrelatedness, and synergy to their conversations and gathers stories to collectively develop a new form of early childhood curriculum that celebrates the strengths of Wet’suwet’n children, their families, and communities.
Communities for Truth and Reconciliation
Developed in the leadership of Cathy Balatti, the Communities of Reconciliation (CFR) are a province-wide project engaging the concept, practices and possible pedagogies of reconciliation. Informed by Cathy’s experience advancing conversations about Reconciliation as a leader in child care, in her role as BCACCS’s Interior Region Community Capacity Developer, and inspired by an ECPN cross-network ‘Collaboratory for Pedagogies of Reconciliation,’ the CFTRs engage Indigenous and non-Indigenous early years professionals in a process-based approach to reconciliation—as a condition of possibility for new ways of relating, considering, supporting and working with children and families in these territories. Through a collective, generative and iterative process, CFR’s participants take up the history and precepts of Reconciliation in Canada, and identify its challenges and opportunities within the historical truths of specific contexts. In its initial phase the CFTRs are working in collaboration with members of the Child Care Resource & Referral Program of the Interior Region.
Capacity Inquiry Project
Involving all Network Members in different capacities, FNPN’s Capacity Inquiry Project seeks to support further cohort leadership to engage in and develop Indigenous -led research in ELCC. In alignment with the First Nations ELCC framework, this Network initiative involves documentation—and developing appropriate documentation for—productively articulating Network Members’ experiences as early childhood leaders and FNPN members, in working together as well as with, and within, communities and community networks. Through this work of inquiry, collaboration and documentation, the CIP will create, inform, share and assert possible ways to strengthen and expand capacity in Indigenous ELCC, within and beyond the FNPN.
Weaving Healing: Honouring our Elders and their Stories
Funded by Canadian Heritage and the FNPN, the purpose of this projects is to honour Elders and residential school Survivors and to further intergenerational healing by bringing their legacy to life in a meaningful and respectful way for the guidance of those raising children and working with families.
Led by four Network Members, this project will create small online healing and sharing circles as a safe space where Elders will be listened to, recognized, honoured and supported. They will be invited to share their stories to carefully document them and create, at Elders direction and consent, a curated collection of four illustrated books and a digital story. This project will not only share Elders’ stories but to support the continuance of the honouring and sharing of their knowledge through a mentorship program in oral traditions dedicated to early childhood educators and youth. This program will ensure the continuity of the relationships that will be established throughout this project and also seeks to nurture the connections that Elders need to have within their communities for their own blossoming and that of all children, families and communities.
Gitksen Ways and Views for Outdoor Early Childhood Education
The Land is medicine to the Gitksen People. It is where all sustenance and healing are found and where spirituality is practiced. This project led by Elizabeth Williams and developed with knowledge keepers and her colleagues at the Gitwangak Education Society, is dedicated to passing down Gitksen ways, about and on the Land. With a hands-on approach, they provide opportunities for multi-aged children to learn Gitksen language, go hunting, fishing, picking berries, trading foods, smoking fish and meat, and harvesting traditional medicines. All these activities are vital survival skills for the Gitksen People. This project is ensuring they are maintained as a legacy across generations.
Ahousaht Postsecondary Curriculum
Working in collaboration with post-secondary institutions, and Indigenous and non-Indigenous instructors, this project led by Mena Duncan will inform postsecondary courses and programs for early childhood educators in Vancouver Island. An Ahousaht postsecondary curriculum seeks to support prospective educators to appropriately contribute to early years programs grounded in Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing, while ensuring the rightful intergenerational transmission and revitalization of Ahousaht culture and knowledge. The pilot process of developing an Indigenous postsecondary curriculum will inform subsequent efforts within the Network which will engage the worldviews of other Nations, in acknowledgement and celebration of their diversity and strengths – toward pathways of cultural continuance and revitalization in self-determination.