A passion for helping young children find their power and identity through the Tahltan language has earned Patricia Louie a 2018 Provincial Child Care Award of Excellence from the B.C. government.
“Patricia knows how healing and empowering Indigenous peoples’ traditional language can be,” said Doug Donaldson, MLA for Stikine. “Language brings communities closer to their culture and is a gift passed on from one generation to the next. To give young children their language is to help them find their identity, and with that, a sense of pride in who they are and where they come from.”
Since she started working for Tahltan Central Government’s Language and Culture program in 2014, Louie has been helping the community of Iskut learn and promote the Tahltan language. One of the ways she does this is through her travelling tea and bannock program, where she and a colleague visit community members in their homes to share their traditional language and ensure it remains alive.
In addition, Louie works with children as young as six months old, so they are introduced to their language and culture by attending “language nests” for up to 16 hours a week. Conceived by the Maori people of New Zealand, language nests operate in a home setting and recreate a family dynamic where children are immersed in their traditional language, along with adults and Elders.
“Indigenous early childhood education is a key part of our government’s Childcare BC plan,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development. “Patricia's work is so important, exemplifying the kind of mentorship, leadership and role modelling that Indigenous children throughout B.C. can benefit from. She personifies what she teaches, having learned Tahltan as a second language over the past four years.”
Louie’s academic and professional credentials include early childhood education training from Northwest Community College. She worked in Iskut’s Aboriginal Head Start program before working at Dzimēs Chō T’oh (Swainson’s thrush nest), the language nest in Iskut. Since 2017, she has been that community’s Tahltan language and culture co-ordinator. As part of her role, she also hosts evening sessions for parents and community members in everyday, basic Tahltan conversation.
- The Provincial Award recognizes early care and learning professionals or teams who work in child care settings throughout the province and demonstrate excellence in at least one of the following areas:
- working collaboratively with others;
- creating cultural safety through culturally competent practice and inclusion of Indigenous language, culture and traditions;
- ensuring inclusion/encouraging diversity;
- supporting community efforts, and;
- continuous improvement/excellence in early learning.
- The Child Care Awards of Excellence recognize the exceptional contributions that early childhood educators, licensed child care providers, organizations and local governments make throughout British Columbia.
- Award recipients were nominated by peers, parents and local governments.
- The ministry received 66 nominations for this year’s awards.
View photos from the ceremony here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bcgovphotos/44154858164/in/datetaken-public/
For more information about child care in British Columbia, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/childcare
Tahltan Central Government: http://tahltan.org/language-culture/