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 StatusOct. 4, 2021STALLED
Previous StatusSept. 5, 2021STALLED

Why “Stalled”?

As on June 14, 2021, the National Progress Report on Early Learning and Childcare has not been updated since Aug. 22, 2019 and there has been no update on the Indigenous Early Learning and Childcare Framework other than “Canada Country Background Report – Quality in Early Childhood Education and Care” released by Employment and Social Development Canada in July 2021 that explored:

  • Early Childhood and Education and Care (ECEC) Quality in Canada
  • Policy Context
  • Curriculum and Pedagogy
  • Workforce Development

The above report touched on the Indigenous Early Learning and Childhood Framework as part of a historical analysis.

April 19 – Budget 2021 – $2.5 billion over five years to build on the existing distinctions-based approach to Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care, with a long-term investment in Indigenous-led programming that parallels the government’s commitment to provinces and territories. This includes $515 million for before-and after-school care on reserve, plus additional support for First Nations programming and capacity-building as well as support for Inuit and Métis programming and capacity-building

Oct. 30, 2020 – Additional funding of $120.7M for Indigenous Early Learning and Childcare Centres to support up to 35,000 First Nations, Métis and Inuit children.

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. 
Background Context to Early Learning Child Care Framework

June 10, 2017 Federal-Provincial-Territorial Ministers Responsible for Early Learning and Child Care announced today an agreement on a Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework to make enhancements to provincial and territorial early learning and child care systems that will improve the lives of Canadian children and their families.

This Framework sets the foundation for governments to work towards a shared long-term vision where all children across Canada can experience the enriching environment of quality early learning and childcare. Governments have committed to increase the quality, accessibility, affordability, flexibility, and inclusivity in early learning and childcare, with consideration for families that need child care the most. The implementation of this Framework will be supported by Government of Canada investments announced in Budgets 2016 and 2017 totalling $7.5 billion over 11 years to support and create more high-quality, affordable child care across the country.

In the coming months, the federal government will work with each province and territory to enter into three-year bilateral agreements that will outline their unique early learning and child care needs to be addressed and the funding allocation for each jurisdiction. Through the bilateral agreements the Government of Canada will provide provinces and territories with $1.2 billion over the next three years for early learning and child care programs. Governments will report annually on progress made in relation to the Framework and bilateral agreements.

The Framework will complement the development of a separate Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework between the Government of Canada with Indigenous partners that will reflect the unique cultural needs of First Nations, Inuit and Métis children across Canada. Provinces and territories expressed their openness to collaborate in supporting these efforts.

Sept. 17, 2018 – This Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework announced today and the collaborative work to implement it over time responds to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Call to Action #12 to develop culturally appropriate early childhood education programs for Indigenous families. The Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework establishes overarching principles and sets a vision for happy and safe Indigenous children and families, strong cultural identity, and a comprehensive and coordinated system that is anchored in self-determination, centred on children and grounded in culture.

Feb. 15, 2018: CBC – A federal program designed for early childhood development on First Nations is still facing serious shortfalls and failing to serve the majority of children living on reserve, according to information tabled in the House of Commons. The Aboriginal Head Start on Reserve program is only serving between 18 to 19 per cent of eligible First Nations children across the country and its services are unavailable to First Nations children with special needs, according to information provided by the Indigenous Services department. The program is designed to provide support for families living on reserve and to help young children prepare for school. http://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/childhood-gaps-firstnation-1.4536959

Distinctions-Based Frameworks

Recognizing the importance of a distinctions-based approach in ensuring that the rights, interests and circumstances of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation are acknowledged, affirmed, and implemented, this Framework supports distinct First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation frameworks that represent their respective vision, goals and priorities. Implementation will be a collaborative effort over several years, through ongoing, open dialogue and mutual effort with the many organizations, governments, and sectors involved in supporting improvements and changes to the governance, structures, systems, policies and content of ELCC programs and supports for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation children, families and communities. 

First Nations Early Learning and Child Care Framework

First Nations have an inherent and sacred responsibility for their children and families. Children hold a unique and sacred place in First Nations families, communities, and nations; they are gifts from the Creator. A First Nations ELCC framework must begin and end with children and their families, in the languages and cultures passed down through the generations, and through authorities governed by First Nations themselves for their own peoples and futures. They believe that children are imbued with the ways of knowing and being of their collectives, and in this way they ensure the survival of Indigenous cultures (Little Bear, 2000). 

First Nations envision a system of diverse, high-quality programs and services that lays the foundation for the health and well-being of First Nations children, provides choices for families, and revitalizes and supports the cultural continuity of First Nations communities and nations. This vision is achieved through a First Nations-led ELCC system of programs and services that are designed and governed by First Nations; rooted in First Nations knowledge, language and culture; guided by Indigenous practices in childhood development; and strengthened by partnerships with governments, service delivery organizations and community members.

First Nations propose the following principles and goals for a First Nations ELCC system:

  1. A First Nations ELCC system of programs and services that is anchored in distinct First Nations knowledges, languages and cultures and responds to First Nations priorities, needs and responsibilities.
  2. A First Nations ELCC system that is controlled and directed by First Nations, including authority and decision-making at all levels of policy development, and funding allocations and governance, with reciprocal accountability.
  3. Well-funded ELCC programs, services and supports that are diverse and of high quality, as evidenced in children’s programming and learning, physical environments, Elders’ leadership, well trained staff who earn equitable wages, and family and community engagement. 
  4. ELCC programs and services that are available, affordable, flexible and responsive to the unique needs of First Nations children and their families, including flexible funding approaches that respond to community needs and provide supports for children and families with diverse and exceptional needs.
  5. Programs and services that are transparent and accountable.
  6. Collaborations and partnerships that support the establishment of a coordinated, integrated First Nations-led ELCC system of policies, programs, services and supports, including national and regional linkages between relevant departments, governments, nations, and related sectors. 
  7. First Nations capacity that is supported at national, regional and community levels to successfully establish and guide a First Nations ELCC system. 

First Nations priorities and strategic actions

First Nations have identified priorities and strategic actions over the short, medium and long-term for realizing change in ELCC structures, systems and programs. These priorities and strategic actions are likewise intended to achieve the goals identified above:

  1. Create regional ELCC structures to support and coordinate First Nations governance in ELCC. Coordination structures would be determined and mandated regionally. 
  2. First Nations leadership to guide and direct regional coordination and support for programs and services, community engagement, quality support, partnerships and accountability. 
  3. Articulate a formal statement of quality for First Nations ELCC. 
  4. Enhance and expand existing ELCC programs for First Nations children and families, and create new ones according to First Nations priorities.
  5. Develop resources or curricula content for ELCC programs that convey the cultures, languages and developmental needs of children and families they serve.
  6. Establish standards, regulations and licensing based in First Nations knowledge systems.
  7. Create a First Nations human resource strategy that promotes and builds on the existing capacities of First Nations communities. 
  8. Develop measures towards improved education and certification of early childhood educators in accredited First Nations ELCC programs, and provide culturally appropriate professional development opportunities for ELCC directors, managers, early childhood educators and other staff. 
  9. Influence post-secondary institutions to include First Nations early childhood education ECE content and culturally appropriate curricula. 
  10. Establish measures to maintain facilities in good repair and where necessary renovate or construct new ELCC facilities. 
  11. Establish a process for ongoing community engagement to inform ELCC program and policy development and decision-making.
  12. Develop appropriate and long-term funding approaches and processes that support a high-quality, regionally-based First Nations ELCC system with among its interconnected parts, based on communities’ needs and priorities, and with First Nations-led funding allocations that are determined by First Nations at the national and regional levels. 
  13. Create and promote respectful linkages and partnerships at multiple levels and in varied contexts that support a coordinated system of ELCC programs and services for First Nations children and families.
  14. Establish reciprocal accountability, research and evaluation frameworks to support promising practice and innovations in First Nations ELCC policies, programs and services. 
  15. Support First Nations capacities development in ELCC systems, programs and practices at national, regional and local levels. 
Inuit Early Learning and Child Care Framework

Inuit view ELCC as an opportunity for cultural revitalization that holds the possibility of connecting Inuit with their land, culture, language, and histories. It is also a significant step towards self-determination, reconciliation, and cultural revitalization. The Inuit vision is an ELCC system that provides the best possible start to life for Inuit children, including the opportunity to learn and speak Inuktut, to grow up prepared to live a harmonious life rooted in Inuit ways of knowing, and to be equipped to participate in Canadian society. The vision, guiding principles and recommendations from Inuit engagement sessions clearly articulated that an Inuit-centred ELCC system must be self-determined. 

Inuit goals and principles

Inuit propose the following goals and principles to guide the creation of an Inuit ELCC system:

  1. An Inuit ELCC system that is grounded in Inuktut and Inuit culture.
  2. Inuit have self-determination in the development, design, and delivery of programs and services for Inuit children and families.
  3. ELCC programs that are high quality and are defined by Inuit; created by Inuit; rooted in Inuit culture, traditions and values; and are provided in Inuktut (the Inuit language).
  4. Flexible Inuit ELCC programming that is adaptable and respectful of regional and community diversity.
  5. Program design and planning that is inclusive of collaboration amongst Inuit and government stakeholders, and supports the best interests of Inuit children and families.
  6. Affordable Inuit ELCC programming that is available in all Inuit regions and communities, recognizing the high cost of living in remote and northern locations. 
  7. All Inuit children and families have access to holistic ELCC programming (programs support families, and barriers to access are reduced), regardless of location or cost. 

Inuit priorities, strategies, and policy recommendations 

Inuit have identified the following priorities and strategies to reach the above goals:

  1. Enable greater Inuit self-determination by exploring renewed fiscal policies, including the Inuit Nunangat Fiscal Policy Space, which supports flexible, integrated, long-term funding approaches that are directed by Inuit and enhance Inuit ELCC and family wellness, and provide choice and autonomy for Inuit in meeting the needs of their communities. 
  2. Introduce policies and practices so that educators, child care managers, Elders, program providers and staff working in ELCC are valued, compensated and recognized for the integral role they play in supporting positive early childhood development. Inuit ELCC programs and services should be supported by reliable and consistent funding, taking into account the high cost of living in Inuit Nunangat. ELCC programs should aim to model employer best practices, including equitable compensation for women, provision of benefits and stability, as well as a pay scale based on education and experience. 
  3. Develop Inuit-specific early childhood development curriculum materials and teaching tools that are grounded in Inuit knowledge and approaches to childrearing, nurturing and learning. Increase availability of educational resources, curriculum, and tools that are developed by Inuit, which are flexible and adaptable for use in current programs such as Aboriginal Head Start or other centres that wish to offer Inuit cultural programming. ELCC resource and curriculum development will take place through meaningful collaboration with Inuit knowledge-holders, Elders, educators and parents. Curriculum should also integrate a trauma-informed approach to help mitigate adverse childhood experiences and support children as they grow.
  4. Increase access to Inuit-specific ELCC programming to include all communities in Inuit Nunangat, especially those that currently have no licensed child care centres or Aboriginal Head Start programs, as well as Inuit who are living in urban centres across Canada. Where possible, Inuit-specific ELCC programs and services should be available to Inuit families in urban and rural areas.
  5. Develop strategies and partnerships to build human resource capacity and training in early childhood education for educators, managers, directors, and other staff involved in Inuit ELCC that are accessible (both financially and geographically) and grounded in Inuit knowledge. This includes both certified training and ongoing professional development. 
  6. Build new and renovate existing buildings and playgrounds where needed, as determined by communities. Improve infrastructure and facilities construction, upgrades and renovations, taking into account that the northern reality requires more time and increased costs. Long-term planning and funding approaches should be developed that can address the complexity of building in Inuit Nunangat. In urban contexts, dedicated Inuit-specific facilities and spaces support overall wellbeing and health.
  7. Work towards Inuit self-determination of ELCC licensing and regulations. Work with provinces and territories to remove regulatory and licensing barriers and adopt standards and practices that support Inuit rights to practice and teach Inuit culture.
  8. 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 resource centres in urban areas. 
  9. Establish monitoring, evaluation and learning frameworks designed to ensure that programs are consistent with the original goals and objectives identified by communities of learning, reflection and growth. The knowledge, opinions and perspectives of Inuit ELCC educators should be valued in spaces of collective reflection and experience-sharing within and between regions. Evaluation efforts should be led by Inuit and guided by Inuit knowledge and values.
Métis Early Learning and Child Care Framework

Métis Nation Early Learning and Child Care Principles

The Métis Nation proposes that a Métis Nation ELCC system be built on the basis of the following principles:

  1. A nation to nation and government to government approach.
  2. This Framework aims to build on and support existing or future bilateral and tripartite processes that are in place between Canada and the Métis Nation as a part of ongoing work to address pressing socio-economic issues of the Métis Nation. 
  3. Métis Nation communities that have decision-making authority over areas that impact them are most likely to be successful at closing socio-economic gaps for children and families.
  4. Métis Nation ELCC programs and services will support improved education, health and social outcomes for young Métis children, rooted in Métis culture. 
  5. Métis Nation ELCC programs and services will be delivered by the Métis Nation, through existing well-developed governing bodies that have accountable, effective program delivery infrastructures in each of its regions and can ensure the design and delivery of Métis-specific programs and services for its youngest citizens and their families.
  6. Métis Nation ELCC programs and services will promote the self-governance and self-determination of the Métis Nation. 
  7. Métis Nation ELCC programs and services will be guided by considerations of efficiency, effectiveness, responsiveness, relevance, inclusivity, and strengthening of Métis culture, language and community. 
  8. Métis Nation ELCC programs and services will be informed by evidence and knowledge that includes traditional and community-based knowledge, best practice information, and data gathered from research and evaluation. 
  9. Métis Nation ELCC program and service implementation will be collaborative in nature, characterized by a shared commitment to partnering, developing and leveraging existing and new networks, and fostering linkages to improve overall program coordination, connection and continuity in programming and services.
  10. Partnerships and collaborations will be undertaken in a climate of mutual respect, relationship building, renewal and cooperation. 
  11. The Métis Nation expects a shared accountability with other levels of governments and ELCC service providers to maximize opportunities for Métis citizens, communities and the Nation.

Métis Nation Early Learning and Child Care goals

The overarching goal of a Métis Nation ELCC system is to create and enhance early learning supports for Métis children and their families by ensuring ELCC programming is anchored in Métis culture and the unique needs of Métis children and families. Realizing this goal involves a focus on: 

  1. Creating Métis-specific programming and services to support the early learning and developmental needs of Métis children and families, developed and delivered by the Métis Nation, through its Governing Members.
  2. Supporting improved access to existing programs for Métis Nation children and families. 
  3. Creating program flexibility that is appropriately tailored to regional characteristics and distinct needs of local families and communities.
  4. Supporting Métis Nation-building, and promoting self-governance and self-determination, with ELCC as a critical step to this end. 
  5. Integrating Métis culture, languages and values into the design and delivery of ELCC programs for Métis Nation children and families.
  6. Promoting, whenever possible, the employment of Métis Nation individuals as early childhood providers. 
  7. Supporting ELCC providers, from inside or outside the Métis Nation, to be trained and educated in early childhood education and the cultural ways of the Métis Nation, thereby enhancing their competency in working with Métis Nation children and their families. 
  8. Supporting improved education, health and social outcomes for young Métis Nation children with a focus on health promotion, nutrition, education, Métis culture, parental involvement and social support.
  9. Offering transparency and accountability to Métis Nation citizens, communities, government partners and other stakeholders.

Métis Nation priorities and strategies

The Métis Nation has identified the following priorities and strategies:

  1. Operationalize responsive and effective ELCC policies and programming to be designed and delivered by the Métis Nation for Métis children and their families that is focused on long-term (10+ years), sustainable transformation and change. 
  2. Create new culturally relevant and supportive ELCC spaces for young Métis Nation children and their families supported by predictable, flexible, long-term and sustainable funding approaches.
  3. Establish and staff Métis Nation ELCC facilities with specific mandates to deliver Métis culture-based ELCC programming for Métis Nation children and families. 
  4. Identify and draw upon evidence-based, research-informed best practices that are grounded in Métis Nation traditional knowledge so that ELCC experiences and opportunities are responsive to Métis children and their families.
  5. Develop and implement Métis-specific curricula and training programs that provide accredited educational opportunities to develop the knowledge and competencies of teachers, early learning specialists, and child care providers working with Métis Nation children and their families, developed with and delivered through Métis Nation institutions. 
  6. Create Métis Nation specific culture-based resources and materials to support the training of early childhood educators in post-secondary programs and the recipients of ELCC programs and service.
  7. Establish learning and information-sharing mechanisms focusing on Métis Nation knowledge, best practices and relevant research. 
  8. Work collaboratively to develop a performance measurement approach to track and monitor program activities impacts over the short, medium and longer terms.
  9. Provide programs and services that prevent Métis children being taken into care and that support Métis children in care as part of more comprehensive Métis Nation wrap-around supports. 
Federal Funding for Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework

First Nations

Up to $1.02B over 10 yrs

Starting in 2018–19, to support the co-developed Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework and strengthen culturally appropriate early learning and child care programs for Indigenous children and families.

Métis

Up to $450.7M over 10 yrs

Métis Nation leaders will sign a co-developed Canada-Métis Nation Early Learning and Child Care Accord on March 6, 2019. Through the accord, the design, delivery, and administration of early learning and child care services for Métis children will be administered by the Governing Members of the Métis Nation.

Inuit

$111M over next 10 yrs

Starting in 2018–19, to support the co-developed Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework and strengthen culturally appropriate early learning and child care programs for Indigenous children and families.

2020-2021 Federal Budget Update

As part of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic the Government of Canada is providing an additional $120.7 million to help Indigenous early learning and child care facilities safely operate. The investment will support over 35,000 First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children who access culturally relevant Indigenous early learning and child care programs.

75M in funding announced in Fall Economic Statement to improve the quality and accessibility of Indigenous child care programs. This funding will enable providers to take steps to improve the retention of Indigenous early childhood educators and offer more flexible and extended hours of care.

Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Quality Improvement Projects

March 4, 2021 – For RFP proposals starting in 2021–22. Priority areas were identified through engagement with First Nations, Inuit and Métis partners. Based on their feedback, proposals should focus on the following key themes:

  • development of a vision or framework for a high-quality, culturally appropriate early learning and child care system;
  • activities to build and strengthen local child care licensing rules and procedures;
  • actions to support ongoing education and training for early learning and child care leaders, management and staff; and

new tools, curriculum or training to support staff working with children with special needs

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.

ProvincePopulationELC Usage
Age 0-5
Federal TransfersBudget
Ontario13,448,494474,639June 16, 2017$147M
Québec8,164,361404,739March 29, 2018$87M
BC4,648,055152,939Feb. 23, 2018$51M
Alberta4,067,175178,070Dec. 20, 2017$45M
Manitoba1,278,36547,786Dec. 14, 2017$15M
Saskatchewan1,098,35343,386March 5, 2018$14M
Nova Scotia923,59831,198Jan. 10, 2018$12M
New Brunswick747,10124,718Sept. 8, 2017$10M
Newfoundland & Labrador519,71615,240Dec. 15, 2017$7M
PEI142,9076,003Aug. 29, 2017$4M
Northwest Territories41,7862,015Feb. 14, 2018$3M
Nunavut35,9441,911Sept. 20, 2017$2M
Yukon35,8741,560Feb. 7, 2018$2M
TOTAL35,151,7281,383204$399M

Notes:

  1. Stats Can 2016 Census Data Demographics
  2. The target population is children across the 10 provinces and 3 territories of Canada who are less than 6 years old (as of February 28, 2019). Children living on reserves in the provinces are excluded from the target population.
  3. Survey on Early Learning and Child Care Arrangements: Table 1. Use of learning and child care arrangements, by province and territory, household population aged 0 to 5. Detailed Information form 2018. Released April 10, 2019. Stats Can. http://www23.statcan.gc.ca/imdb/p2SV.pl?Function=getSurvey&Id=1204606
  4. Investing in Our Future. National Progress Report on Early Learning and Child Care. 2017 – 2018. Government of Canada. August, 2019
Provincial Commitments to Early Childhood Education

British Columbia

April 15, 2021 – The Métis Nation of BC announced Miyoopimatishihk (Wellbeing) Program that provides access for supports for early childhood development for Métis families with children birth to eight. The Ministry of Education will distribute information about the program to Métis families enrolled in the Métis Family Connections Program. The Métis Early Years Community Coordinator will assist families with their application and the MNBC Ministry of Education will fund all approved supports.

Métis families can apply for a wide range of services, including:

  • respite care
  • speech therapy
  • assessments
  • mental health support and
  • educational and cultural support.

Families can access services up to $5,000 per child. The Ministry of Education recognizes that some children may require multiple supports and services and that each situation will be unique.

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.

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. 

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

Bilateral: Canada and Alberta Part of $136M Fed funding over 3 years + $14.5 annual from province

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. Funding $72M over 2 years

Aug. 11, 2020 – New funding to help support child care in the province, in partnership with the federal government, as the centres are set to fully reopen September 1. Ford says the two governments have invested $234.6 million for childhood and early-years settings among licensed daycare facilities.

Ford says the child-care money will be used to enhance hygiene and public safety protocols, and additional staffing for facilities including licensed daycare providers and First Nations Child and Family programs.

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. $1.8M (Fed) + $700K (QIA) over 3yrs

Manitoba

Dec. 21, 2020 – $530,000 funding to community-based organizations that serve vulnerable families to ensure qualified child-care providers are available at no cost to parents when seeking supports and services. This includes funding through the Canada-Manitoba Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) Agreement to support an early childhood educator at Wahbung Abinoonjiiag Inc. that focuses on empowering families and offering holistic healing through an Indigenous lens.

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.