About Our Indigenous-Led EarlyON

Our vision is to be a beacon for all First People living here now and into the future.

EarlyON Centres support all children, parents, and caregivers in learning, growing, and connecting – together. This is an integral part of our innovative Indigenous centre of healing which also includes mental health, employment, and tech mentoring programs/services. This aligns with Ontario’s renewed vision for early years’ childcare centers, with affordable, inclusive, high-quality programs to contribute to children’s overall well-being. We have an incredible centre and incredible resources for our programs. Visit our programs and offerings page or seek us out on social media to learn more.

Our Indigenous-focused EarlyON uses the current ministry framework outlined in Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres (Ministry of Education, 2018). Our centre’s programs are focused on meeting the needs of the diverse Indigenous population living in the Region of Waterloo by integrating Indigenous perspectives throughout our curriculum by using culturally relevant and responsive pedagogy (CRRP). We believe inclusion allows families to feel safe in our environment and recognize their children’s ability to thrive. While our EarlyON will be open to all, we will focus on offering Indigenous and culturally specific spirit building programming in addition to traditional EarlyON programming. Offering this will allow a bridge to welcome Indigenous and non-Indigenous families to connect as we will have knowledge keepers (Indigenous Elders), storytellers, nature walks, gardens, and art instructors to guide our programming. We currently have a nature room, yoga/dance studio, and pollinator gardens that we will incorporate into our programs. Our centre also offers family fires, bike lending, a library, and many more supports for families.

Our practices are guided by the following pedagogical documents:

Moreover, we are guided by the Medicine Wheel teachings known as Gifts of the Four Directions. This pedagogical paradigm engages the individual, family, and community in a dynamic process that is focused on active engagement with these gifts, which include the ability to visualize, the importance of caring and building relationships, as well as seeking knowledge and taking action in our lives.

Our philosophy and programs support Indigenous children and families to see themselves reflected in their social spaces, learning activities and play opportunities. We are inclusive and recognize the diversity within and amongst the Indigenous families who call Waterloo Region home. We use several models to inform our centre’s programs including the “How Does Learning Happen” framework along with First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Holistic Lifelong Learning Models emphasizing collaboration with Elders and Knowledge Keepers from the main cultural groups in the area. Our values are tied to the land, family, and community.

We are committed to an asset model that builds spirit rather than focusing on deficiency in our systems. Our core services will include all programs traditionally found in OEYCFC. Our Indigenous programming includes but is not limited to language and associated cultural teachings/practices with possibilities for cultural emersion, land-based learning, and positive interaction between all generations. We focus on a synthesized approach to science, technology, and the arts emphasizing culturally relevant and responsive settings, approaches, and outcomes.