Below is a media release issued by the Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre.
A new pilot program is helping to train Indigenous early childhood educators for First Nations communities in Niagara, widening opportunities for cultural learning while at the same time filling staffing gaps faced by licensed child care service providers.
Delivered as a partnership between the Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre, Niagara College, Six Nations Polytechnic and the Region of Niagara Children’s Services Division, the Indigenous-led Early Childhood Education (ECE) Pilot Program aims to grow the number of qualified staff in the workforce and increase access to high quality licensed child care for families.
The pilot project stems from critical staffing shortages across all communities but especially for Indigenous-led licensed childcare service providers because of the importance of cultural knowledge needed by Registered Early Childhood Educators.
There are 16 students currently enrolled in the program with no fees or costs to the students to undertake this program. An instructor from Six Nations Polytechnic will deliver lessons remotely and in person via the Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre.
Classes commence on Jan. 9, 2023, and will conclude in April 2024.
As Registrar for the ECE program, Niagara College is responsible for the administration of student registrations into the program.
Niagara Region Children’s Services contributed funding to encourage the delivery of innovative strategies to support the recruitment and retention of Registered Early Childhood Educators.
Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre provided administration assistance for eligible students, space accommodations and other supports for students as they undertake the program.
“The Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre is grateful for the relationship we have with the Niagara Region Children’s Services. This program is ReconcilliAction and an example that when we move beyond policy into innovative solutions, there are benefits to everyone. We are proud to help our people and be able to do this with established partners and new partners. When we as a community succeed, all of Niagara succeeds. This is an important lesson that innovation and ReconcilliAction are possible when people are priority over policy. Policy can change with good leadership guiding the way and we thank all of our partners for being good leaders with us.” Jennifer Dockstader, Executive Director, Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre
“Niagara Region Children’s Services is pleased to be part of this innovative pilot project led by the local Indigenous community and post-secondary partners. The success of this pilot not only means that we are continuing to learn and build stronger ties, we are ensuring Niagara families get access to high-quality licensed child care that meets the unique needs of their community.” Satinder Klair, Director Niagara Region Children’s Services
“Access to high quality, licensed childcare that meets the cultural needs of our community is so important for our region. With our history in offering a leading Early Childhood Education program, and a longstanding commitment to Indigenous Education, we’re pleased to work with our partners to address this significant need in Niagara.” Carol Phillips, Dean, Community Services, Justice and Fitness Studies, Niagara College.
“Six Nations Polytechnic (SNP) is very pleased to work with our partners in the Niagara region to meet the need for Indigenous early childhood educators for First Nations communities. SNP’s culturally supporting approach to teaching and learning will strengthen the graduates’ cultural knowledge which in turn will support wholistic wellness among our children. Together we can make a positive difference for our collective generations.” Rebecca Jamieson, President/CEO, Six Nations Polytechnic.
Media inquiries, please contact:
Courtney De Caire