We call upon the federal, provincial, territorial, and Aboriginal governments to develop culturally appropriate early childhood education programs for Aboriginal families.

Indigenous Watchdog Status Update

Current StatusAug. 17, 2020STALLED
Previous StatusJune 15, 2020STALLED

Why “Stalled”?

Not all provinces and territories have provided details on Indigenous investments to support the federal Indigenous Early Learning Child Care Framework. The National Progress Report on Early Learning and Childcare released on Aug, 22, 2019 provides details on how provinces are investing federal funds to implement the program. BC, Ontario, Nunavut, Northwest Territories and the Yukon were the only province and/or or territory that provided any details specific to Indigenous initiatives.

Indigenous children are included with children with additional support needs, francophone children and recent immigrants. They represent an unknown percentage of 2,955 (14%) of the total of 21,205 new child care spaces created in 2017 – 2018.

April 30, 2019 – The Indigenous Early Learning Child Care Framework announced on June 10, 2017 was formally launched on Sept. 17, 2018. The Government of Canada, is committing up to $1.7 billion over 10 years to strengthen early learning and child care programs and services for Indigenous children and families starting in 2018-19.

  • Over the next 10 years, up to $1.02 billion will support Early Learning and Child Care for First Nations and will be managed in partnership with First Nations.
  • Up to $111 million will support early learning and child care for Inuit and will be managed in partnership with Inuit.
  • Up to $450 million will support early learning and child care for the Métis Nation and will be managed in partnership with the Métis Nation. 
Indigenous Early Childhood Education Principles

These cross-cutting and shared principles stem from national and regional engagement processes and aim to offer a foundation to collectively strengthen Indigenous ELCC.

  1. Indigenous Knowledge, Language and Cultures

Realizing the crucial importance of Indigenous ELCC that is rooted in distinct Indigenous cultures, languages and knowledges, as the foundation from which children form their individual and collective identity, and as an essential component of wellbeing.

  • First Nations, Inuit and Métis Determination

Acknowledging that First Nations, Inuit and the Métis are distinct peoples with rights to self-determination including the right to control the design, delivery and administration of an Indigenous ELCC system that reflects their unique needs, priorities and aspirations.

  • Quality Programs and Services

Led by Indigenous peoples, creating culturally-appropriate and distinct ELCC programs and services that are grounded in Indigenous cultures and delivered through a holistic approach that supports the wellness of children and families in safe, nurturing and well-resourced programs and environments. Providing culturally-competent, well-educated, trained and well-compensated early childhood educators in healthy, equitable and supportive work environments.

  • Child and Family Centered

Understanding the child in the context of family and prioritizing the direct involvement of families in the delivery of a continuum of programs, services and supports, from prenatal to school age and beyond. Supporting families to heal from past and present trauma.

  • Inclusive

Taking into account and building upon the diversity of Indigenous children and families, creating ELCC programs that include a range of supports to respond to children’s, families’ and communities’ diverse abilities (including physical, psychological and developmental abilities), geographic locations and socio-economic circumstances.

  • Flexible and Adaptable

Enabling and supporting flexible ELCC programs and services that are responsive to the unique needs of a child, family or community.

  • Accessible

Supporting access to affordable ELCC programs and services for all Indigenous children and families who require them.

  • Transparent and Accountable

Designing, delivering and funding ELCC in ways that are accountable to children, families, communities and partners; sharing data in in transparent and ethically appropriate ways, with reciprocal and mutual accountability between those who are collaborating to design, deliver and fund services.

  • Respect, Collaboration and Partnerships

With Indigenous peoples leading the way, strengthening and fostering new and emerging partnerships and collaborations at multiple levels, across sectors, with numerous players in program design and delivery to achieve shared goals. Recognizing that no one program can meet all the needs of children and their families, fostering a network of supports based on community needs and creating opportunities to support Indigenous families and communities to care for their children in more comprehensive, holistic, effective and efficient ways.

Indigenous Responses to the Indigenous Early Childhood Framework

Assembly of First Nations

Resolution No. 59, 2018 – First Nations Early Learning and Child Care Regional Funding Allocation Approach

  1. Endorse the per capita funding approach, based on the Modified Berger Formula using the Indian Registration System population counts of on and off-reserve children aged 0-6, weighted for remoteness, as provisionally recommended by a majority of the National Expert Working Group on First Nations Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) (Working Group) for the first two funding years.
  2. Direct the Working Group to continue to support the implementation of both the National Indigenous ELCC Framework and the First Nations ELCC Framework, subject to continued First Nations direction and leadership at local, regional and national levels, including through linkages to related initiatives in child welfare, Jordan’s Principle, education, housing and infrastructure, languages, and governance.
  3. Direct the Working Group to strike a sub-working group, comprised of First Nations or of individuals identified by First Nations, with a clear mandate, terms of reference and timeline, to conduct the necessary research, engagement and consultation to develop an equitable and appropriate funding approach for First Nations ELCC investments that considers factors including those mentioned in this Resolution and in the First Nations ELCC Framework (see Section F). This sub-working group shall commence work in December 2018 or January 2019, and shall have a recommendation to bring forward for approval of the Chiefs-in-Assembly in place for fiscal year 2019-20.
  4. Call upon the federal government to adequately resource the development of a new funding approach for First Nations ELCC, and ensure that this is sourced separately from service delivery, partnerships and governance funding.
  5. Direct the Assembly of First Nations to urge the federal government to bring forward the currently back-ended funding for First Nations ELCC and guarantee from the federal government to ensure that funding for 2018- 2019 be carried over to the next fiscal year in order to allow regions to develop their own funding formula and their governance.
  6. Call upon the federal, provincial and territorial governments to work with First Nations communities, service providers and regional First Nations ELCC coordination structures to build and further develop strong partnerships at the local and regional levels to support First Nations ELCC.
Métis Nation

Métis Nation Accord Annex: Early Learning and Child Care

The Parties will work together toward improving early learning supports for Métis children generally. The Métis National Council and Governing Members will participate in the development of a Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care Framework to guide renewed programming approaches that could better support the early learning and child care distinct needs of Métis Nation children and families. The Parties will discuss how these needs can be met, including through a Métis Nation-specific component of the Framework. The Parties will also explore the reach, accessibility and delivery of current federal initiatives for Métis families.

Sept. 21, 2018 – Building on the priorities outlined in the Accord, the Leaders and Ministers agreed that Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) would be one of the three areas in need of urgent action and investment. Ministers recognize the considerable work the Métis Nation has undertaken which has enabled it to provide its recommendations to Canada for next steps in this area. The Métis Nation provided Canada with proposals and draft companion accords, and the Leaders and Ministers had a detailed discussion on their implications. The Ministers and Leaders discussed draft accords in the areas of ELCC and instructed officials to continue work in advancing these documents with the goal of finalizing accords once both parties have completed their respective approval processes.

Inuit Tapariit Kanatami

National Indigenous Early Learning and Childcare Framework

The development of an Inuit-centred Early Learning and Childcare (ELCC) system and its governance is a significant step towards self-determination, reconciliation and cultural revitalization. Inuit have pursued political autonomy and self-determination through the negotiation of comprehensive land claim agreements that define Inuit political status in Canada today. For Inuit, self-determination with respect to ELCC means the right to design, develop and deliver early learning programs, drawing on Inuit Societal Values, using methods that are Inuit-specific, evidence-based and globally informed.

It is necessary for the federal government to apply an Inuit Nunangat fiscal policy in order to achieve this goal. The myriad ELCC programs and federal funding arrangements that exist across the four jurisdictions that comprise Inuit Nunangat create variance in ELCC program quality, access, and cost. Adopting an Inuit Nunangat fiscal policy would mean that single window federal funding would flow directly to regional and urban Inuit organizations, providing them with the resources and flexibility needed to meet their needs.

The federal government can be partners in advancing the following priorities for allocation of funding:

  1. Develop Inuit-specific early childhood development (ECD) curriculum, program, materials and teaching tools that are trauma-informed and grounded in Inuit knowledge and Inuit approaches to childrearing, nurturing and learning.
  2. Provide capital funds to build new and renovate existing buildings and playgrounds to meet Inuit community needs and health and safety standards in order to provide new spaces/services where needed, as determined by communities.
  3. Ensure educators, childcare centre managers,
    Elders, program providers and staff working in early learning and childcare receive proper compensation, taking into account the cost of living in the North
  4. Develop and provide quality ECE training programs for early childhood educators grounded in Inuit knowledge as well as ongoing professional development opportunities for ELCC staff and volunteers
  5. Facilitate Inuit self-governance of ELCC licensing and regulations for Inuit organizations

Recommendations for Change

  • Provide adequate, integrated, multi-year funding directly to Inuit organizations through transfer agreements to provide Inuit-defined, high quality ELCC programs in every community in Inuit Nunangat.
  • Develop Inuit-specific early childhood development (ECD) curriculum, materials
    and teaching tools that are grounded in Inuit knowledge and Inuit approaches to childrearing, nurturing and learning.
  • Provide capital funds to build new and renovate existing buildings and playgrounds where needed, as determined by communities.
  • Ensure educators, childcare centre managers, Elders, program providers and staff working in early learning and childcare receive proper compensation, taking into account the cost of living in Inuit Nunangat.
  • Develop and provide quality ECE training programs for early childhood educators grounded in Inuit knowledge as well as ongoing professional development opportunities for ELCC staff and volunteers.
  • Work towards Inuit self-determination of ELCC licensing and regulations
  • Recognize and support Inuit children and families who are living outside of Inuit Nunangat by funding the creation and operation of Inuit- centred ELCC programs and family resources centres in urban areas.

Click to access National-Indigenous-Early-Learning-and-Child-Care-Report.pdf

National Progress Report on Early Learning and Childcare: Investing in our Future

The most recent information from the provinces and territories indicates that, in only the first year (2017 to 2018) of the 3-year agreement, an additional 21,205 more affordable child care spaces have been established, representing over half (53%) of the March 2020 target of 40,000 spaces. Of these spaces, 2,955 or 14% benefitted “children from diverse populations…including Indigenous children, children with additional support needs, children from francophone minority communities and recent immigrants).

Indigenous children – bundled with children with additional support needs, francophone children and recent immigrants) – represent an unknown percentage of 2,955 (14%) of the total of 21,205 new child care spaces created in 2017-2018.

Provincial Commitments to Early Childhood Education

British Columbia

May 24, 2018 – Indigenous children under six, and their families, will benefit from an expansion of Aboriginal Head Start (AHS) programs that provide culturally based inclusive child care and early learning, family bonding and prevention services and also create new licensed child care spaces that will be free for families. The FNHA will receive $10.5 million to enhance its existing programs, and create new early-learning seats in First Nations communities. There are 122 on-reserve AHS programs in B.C. that are funded through the FNHA. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) also funds 12 urban/off-reserve AHS programs in B.C., each serving 40 children, aged three to five years. 

Nov. 2, 2018 – ($3.6M over three years). A new partnership between the B.C. government and Métis Nation BC, the BC Aboriginal Child Care Society and the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres to support 11 new early learning and child care planning and navigator positions to help address the specific needs of Indigenous children, families and communities throughout the province. These positions will not only help families find and access services, but they will work with communities, child care operators and other levels of government to plan for and deliver culturally based early years programs, like parent-tot drop-in playtime, new child care programs and parent education seminars.

Alberta

June 14, 2018 – ($14.5 annually for three years). Alberta children are learning about traditional language and culture, with five new $25-a-day children care centres offering Indigenous-focused programming. Six Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) centres across Alberta are implementing Indigenous-focused programming, including traditional drumming, storytelling and lessons in Michif, Blackfoot and Cree.

  • Calgary: Little Sundance (Métis Calgary Family Services) 54 childcare spaces
  • Edmonton:  1000 Woman Child Care Centre (56 child care spaces)
  • Lethbridge: Opokaa’sin Child Care Centre (56 child care spaces)
  • Slave Lake: Legacy Childcare (125 child care spaces)
  • Valleyview: Knowledge Tree (36 child care spaces)
  • Wetaskiwin: Wetaskiwin Early Learning and Childcare Centre (64 childcare spaces
Ontario

Feb. 9, 2018 – $11.5M for upgrades/enhancements to First Nations School in Toronto to create four new childcare rooms with 64 new licensed child care spaces and one new child and family program room.

The province is also enhancing existing and supporting new childcare and child and family programs in 58 off-reserve projects led by Métis, Inuit and urban Indigenous organizations. This includes culturally relevant programming, advice, personal connections, resources and play- and inquiry-based learning for Indigenous children and families

Ontario is supporting Indigenous children and their families by investing up to $70 million over two years in child care and child and family programs developed in partnership with municipal service managers and Indigenous organizations.

Nunavut

July 26, 2019 – Department of Education and Qikiqtani Inuit Association (QIA) announce new, Nunavut-developed early childhood education resources are being shared with child care facilities across the territory. “I am proud to share these early childhood education resources which reflect our language and culture,” says QIA President, Akeeagok. “These puzzles, toys, and books allow our children to learn, play, and imagine themselves in a world that celebrates our Inuk-identity and mother-tongue.” The QIA-developed resources will accompany the Department of Education-developed resources which are being distributed to 55 licensed facilities, including after school and preschool locations. 

Official Federal Government Response: Sept. 5, 2019

In September 2018, a new distinctions-based Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care framework co-developed with the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Métis National Council was announced. This transformative framework reflects the unique cultures and needs of First Nations, Inuit and Métis children and families across Canada. It is a guide for all actors in the early learning and child care sphere to work towards achieving the shared vision that Indigenous children have the opportunity to experience high-quality, culturally strong early learning and child care. The framework complements the Multilateral Framework on Early Learning and Child Care released in June 2017 by federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for early learning and child care.

In support of the Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework, the Government of Canada has committed $1.7 billion over 10 years, starting in fiscal year 2018 to 2019, to strengthen early learning and child care programs and services for Indigenous children and families. This is part of the commitment of $7.5 billion over 11 years the government made in Budgets 2016 and 2017 for more high-quality affordable child care.

In addition, Budget 2016 invested $129.4 million over 2 years, starting in fiscal year 2016 to 2017, to build capacity in existing Indigenous early learning and child care programs. With these investments, repairs and renovations were undertaken in 549 First Nations and Inuit Child Care Initiative centers, in 167 Aboriginal Head Start on Reserve facilities and in 77 Aboriginal Head Start in Urban and Northern Communities facilities.

Work in collaboration with First Nations partners was undertaken to jointly develop policy that will strengthen First Nations control of First Nations education and ensure that children on reserve receive a quality education. The importance of culturally-appropriate early learning and kindergarten programming emerged as key themes through engagement with First Nations partners, culminating in a co-developed policy proposal that was endorsed by the Assembly of First Nations’ Chiefs in Assembly on December 5, 2017. This co-developed proposal would significantly increase available funding for full-time, two-year kindergarten for children ages 4 and 5 at on-reserve schools. Culturally appropriate early learning and kindergarten programming will be further supported by Budget 2016’s investment of an additional $2.6 billion for elementary and secondary education on reserve, to improve education outcomes for First Nations.

On April 1, 2019, Indigenous Services Canada implemented a new approach to First Nations elementary and secondary education, which was co-developed with First Nations education leaders and experts from across the country. On top of new formula-based regional models for First Nations education, this new approach will provide additional funding to on-reserve schools for language and culture programming and full-time kindergarten for children aged 4 and 5.