I am just one of hundreds of early childhood educators cross BC who are trying to wrap our heads around the word reconciliation and what it means for our centres and to the children who feel safe here.
Firstly, I want to acknowledge that Lexie's Little Bears Child Care is on the uncited territory of the Lekwunken First Peoples. It is important to me that the educators, families and guests who come here, know this.
I recently attended a wonderful and very thought provoking workshop at the West Shore CCRR, lead by a speaker from the BC Aboriginal Child Care Society. She did an amazing job of explaining the language we use to welcome and identify our Indigenous community.
In order for us to be successful with our communication, it is important for us to use the correct names.
For example, the word Indigenous is used globally and is usually considered to be politically correct. The most important thing is to address another human with kindness and respect. If this human would like to be acknowledged under a different name, they may tell you.
First Nations in British Columbia refers to the 103 Nations we have here in BC.
First peoples is very similar to Indigenous, and is usually politically correct if said with respect and kindness.
Aboriginal means land based. (Belonging to a nation) However some humans do not like the use of this term because of the prefix (Ab) meaning "not original" It is important to ask or the other human may tell you their preference.
The Metis have specific European heritage, where their community vouches for each member.
And the Inuit are from the Northern Parts of Canada. The Inuit are homogeneous, speaking the same language and of the same culture.
In British Columbia alone, we have 203 different Indigenous languages and there are 600 Indigenous languages across Canada! The indigenous community is the largest growing sector of the population, with many young parents and many large families. There are 1.67 million individuals who identify as First nations, Metis or Inuit, which is 4.9% of the population in Canada.
So, the common thread at this workshop was that most of the educators who were there did not have any indigenous children in their child care programs.(even though we welcome all children and all cultures) The educators who did have Indigenous children, did so for shorter periods of time as the children were usually introduced by Foster care programs.
So where are all the children?
This is the heart breaking part that we are all struggling and grappling with daily. The reality is that many of our indigenous community members do not trust the education system, and therefore they do not trust our centres to be a safe and welcoming place for them or their children.
For approximately 113 years, Residential schools ran all across Canada.
The last one closed in 1996...
This is our past, and we are committed to acknowledging our past and moving forward with our best intentions to make all children, families and communities feel welcome in our child care centres.
It is our time to be kind, to be gentle and to allow time to slowly heal.
It is an honor to work with ALL children.
I will do my part as best I can.