Think Indigenous Conference

The First Nations Pedagogies Network: Advancing Pedagogical Innovation in Early Care and Learning on Indigenous Terms 

Early Childhood Education is a relatively recent, and generally Euro-Western development.  Since the early 1990s it has been widely instituted in Canada, including in some Indigenous programs that allow some latitude for culture. These have not been supported well however, and have generally been comprehensively, and often debilitatingly, subject to non-Indigenous control. Their successes have been largely despite, and not because of, the supports they receive.

For Indigenous communities and families however, the importance of children has never been understated. Following an extensive engagement process in 2017, First Nations leadership across Turtle Island endorsed the National First Nations Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) Framework.  In respect of Indigenous laws, custom and contemporary priorities, it provides for the centrality of Indigenous knowledges, languages and cultures in Indigenous ECE, Indigenous governance, quality programs and services (developed on Indigenous terms), strong partnerships and linkages and a commitment to capacity development in First-Nations-led systemic transformation.

A key partnership development attending the Framework’s implementation was with a transformative initiative in ECE in BC called the Early Childhood Pedagogies Network (ECPN).  Derived from the Investigating Quality and Pedagogical Facilitation Projects, and funded by the BC government, the ECPN’s development of an ‘Indigenous Stream’ is being led by the BC Aboriginal Child Care Society, as the First Nations Pedagogies Network (FNPN).

Created in December 2019 in an initial gathering of the pilot cohort along with FNPN leadership, key ECPN partners and the networks advisory support, the FNPN is exploring the creation of a new role in early care and learning; one that places cultures, critical engagement and the invention of the role itself at the centre of a generative project of transformation in ECE. While exploring what a ‘pedagogist’ could be in First Nations terms, from Indigenous strengths in early learning and child care, the FNPN is developing new ways to support and share resurgent and emerging practices and conceptions of quality in ECE/ELCC.

This presentation at the 2020 Think Indigenous conference shared the early struggles and strengths of this emergent process. The pilot cohort members contextualized their work, shared their commitments and processes, outlined some of the new possibilities coming into view, and then invited discussion. They were grateful to share the uplifting process of creating from the ground up what a ‘pedagogist’ may become in Indigenous terms, and the innovative, collaborative and inquiring work that they have been co-creating in the time of the network’s birth.

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