Aboriginal children in British Columbia are getting a stronger start, thanks to 187 new cultural enrichment projects funded by the B.C. government in 2012.
Created in 2010, the First Nations and Urban Aboriginal Early Childhood Development Reinvestment Initiative supports community-based programs that respond to the cultural needs of young Aboriginal children.
The B.C. government's $5-million investment in 2012 brings the total investment over the last three years to $16 million for more than 1,000 projects that have enriched existing early childhood programs for Aboriginal children.
Examples of projects include:
- Development of child-care and early learning programs completely immersed in the local traditional dialect.
- Working with Elders to create a language and culture game for Nintendo DSI.
- Building a fish-cleaning station for children to learn traditional fishing practices and the importance of caring for the land.
- Cultural ceremonies and activities for children in government care.
The funding provided to the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres is administered by a First Nations and Urban Aboriginal Early Childhood Development Steering Committee. Comprised of representatives from the B.C. First Nations Early Childhood Development Council and the Aboriginal Early Years Advisory Circle, the steering committee reviews project proposals and distributes funds to successful applicants.
Stephanie Cadieux, Minister of Children and Family Development -
"By bringing together children, Elders and families to share traditional stories and build healthy relationships, the benefits of these projects spread from children to their communities and beyond. Many of the projects also encourage literacy, healthy eating and a commitment to environmental sustainability. The benefits stay with individuals and communities long after the children grow up."
Tyrone McNeil, co-chair of the First Nations and Urban Aboriginal Early Childhood Development Steering Committee -
"As a member of the steering committee, I look forward to hearing of the measured improvements and positive results for children and their families resulting from this year's reinvestment. In a time of constraint, First Nations appreciate MCFD's continuing support and investments in our children."
Diana Elliot, co-chair of the First Nations and Urban Aboriginal Childhood Development Steering Committee -
"Investing in our children is the best investment we will ever make. From Elders' involvement to books written in a Nation's languages, to the making of regalia for children for drum and dance groups, it is wonderful to see what has happened."
- Early childhood development (ECD) programs help families, service providers and communities give B.C.'s children (ages 0-6 years) their strongest possible start.
- There are 187 projects funded by the reinvestment initiative in 2012-13:
- 93 program enhancement projects.
- 94 language and culture projects.
- Including the latest investment, the Ministry of Children and Family Development allocates approximately $12.5 million each year for Aboriginal-specific ECD services.
- The Aboriginal population in Canada is young, increasingly urban, and growing at a rate nearly six times faster than the non-Aboriginal population.
- Currently, the Aboriginal population is much younger than the overall B.C. population. An estimated 28 per cent of the Aboriginal population is under 14 years of age compared to 16 per cent of the non-Aboriginal population.
Organizations interested in the First Nations and Urban Aboriginal Early Childhood Development Reinvestment Initiative can visit: www.fnuaecdsc.ca
Media interested in finding an organization or family that has benefited from these Aboriginal ECD grants in their community can contact the Ministry of Children and Family Development.
Ministry of Children and Family Development