Federal Indigenous Early Learning & Child Care (IELCC) Framework

Photo Credit: Unsplash User  Ari Sherbill

Photo Credit: Unsplash User Ari Sherbill

On September 17, 2018, the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), the Métis National Council (MNC) and the Government of Canada announced a co-developed National Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care (IELCC) Framework and a commitment of up to 1.7 billion dollars over 10 years to strengthen early learning and child care programs and services for Indigenous children and families.

The Framework contains the First Nations Framework, Inuit Framework and Métis Nation Framework. The First Nations component was co-developed by Canada with regional First Nations representatives as mandated by the Assembly of First Nations as a key step in supporting First Nations children and families within the contexts of their own cultures and by their own authorities and capacities. The framework is operative according to the first principle of reconciliation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, “at all levels and across all sectors of Canadian society” for First Nations families and children wherever they live.

The federal announcement states:

In 2017, the Government and Indigenous partners undertook a comprehensive engagement process on Indigenous early learning and child care. Over 100 engagement activities were conducted across the country by Indigenous organizations and the Government of Canada, reaching over 3,000 participants through town halls, regional and national meetings, and online surveys.

Informed by this engagement, the Government worked with Indigenous partners to co-develop the Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework.

The Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework will be the foundation for ongoing collaborative work to achieve a shared path forward. The Framework is meant as a guide for all actors in the Early Learning and Child Care sphere to work towards achieving the shared vision that all Indigenous children have the opportunity to experience high-quality, culturally strong early learning and child care.

A Multilateral Framework was signed in June 2017 by the Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers Responsible for Early Learning and Child Care; and in which governments agreed to work together to address some of the key early learning and child care issues across the country. The Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework and the Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework complement one another.

The BC Aboriginal Child Care Society (BCACCS), in a news release on September 17, commended the federal government, partners, leaders and their teams who have worked to advocate for the changes announced in the new Framework. They note, “The IELCC framework provides for the autonomous, community-driven and nation-based governance of Inuit, Métis and First Nations developed child and family supports, in ways that Indigenous communities determine for their own children and families.”

Assembly of First Nation (AFN) National Chief, Perry Bellegarde, together with AFN Manitoba Regional Chief, Kevin Hart, announced their support for the IELCC Framework as an opportunity for First Nations to develop and implement their own early learning and child care systems. AFN National Chief Bellegarde commented, “First Nations children will have enhanced opportunities for success when they have identities built from strong connections to their nations, languages, cultures and history. This framework is reflective of direction and input by First Nations experts in health, education and early childhood education. It can now be used as a guide for First Nations to create their own early learning and child care systems based on their vision for their children and families. The implementation is crucial and I look forward to continued participation by First Nations to determine how this will roll out in our nations.”

Nelli Agbulos