Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care (IELCC) Framework

The Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) Framework is innovative because it represents a promising practice in the development of a comprehensive policy, program and implementation strategy that was co-developed with the Government of Canada and Indigneous peoples. The document recognizes the value of Indigenous-led, culturally-grounded programs and that supports their health and wellbeing, spiritual, social and educational development, and language and culture.

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The Government of Canada made it a priority to ensure Canadians had meaningful impact in the policy development process. In 2016, the Government announced that it was time for a renewed collaboration and nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous Peoples, based on recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership. As such, the Prime Minister asked the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development and the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs to collaborate with Indigenous Peoples in developing an Indigenous ELCC Framework as a first step in identifying the unique needs and priorities of First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples.

The intent was for the Indigenous ELCC Framework to establish, in policy, a vision for Indigenous ELCC to guide future federal investments and programming. In the spirit of this renewed relationship with Indigenous peoples, Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) committed to a process of co-development, collaboration and partnership.

In 2017, ESDC and Indigneous parnters undertook a national engagement process to hear from Indigenous parents, family members, communities, early childhood educators, youth, Elders, experts and leaders about their vision for early learning and child care for Indigenous children and families to build on what is working and improve for the future.

Over 100 engagement activities were conducted across the country by Indigenous organizations and the Government of Canada, reaching over 3,000 First Nations, Inuit and Métis parents, practitioners, leaders, communities, and representative organizations through town halls, regional and national meetings, and online surveys. This collaborative engagement process sought to inform a more comprehensive understanding of existing Indigenous ELCC systems and programs in order to identify their strengths and service gaps, and to articulate a vision that would guide new and meaningful approaches for Indigenous ELCC. The objective of the engagement was to inform a co-developed Framework that reflects the unique needs and priorities of First Nations, Inuit and Métis children and familes to make a genuine difference in the early experiences of Indigneous children.

Throughout the entire engagement process, ESDC demonstrated an ability to build trusting relationships with Indigenous partners, working intensively with them to co-develop the Framework, which ultimately resulted in the release of the Framework by Ministers and Indigenous leaders in fall 2018 and its endorsement by the Government as the guiding document for all federal policy and programs related to Indigenous ELCC. It is a transformative document, co-developed with Indigenous partners, that captures the unique visions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis for ELCC. The Framework lays a path forward towards Indigenous governance and self-determination in alignment with the Government’s broader reconciliation agenda.

In all, our engagement process caputured thousands of voices from coast to coast to coast and ultimately helped inform an Indigenous ELCC Framework that represents the unique needs and priorities of Indigenous peoples. Our engagement approach has since been recognized within the Government of Canada and by indigenous political leaders as a model for meaningful co-development and co-involvement of Indigenous peoples in the policy development process.

Implementation of the Indigenous ELCC Framework has been guided by the principles and priorities identified by Indigenous partners and laid out in the Framework. Guided by the Framework, key implementation milestones to date include: the establishment of joint national/regional partnerships tables, Indigenous-led allocation decisions, Indigenous leadership endorsement of plans and priorities identified; federal mechanisms aligned to support Indigenous priorities; and advancement of approximately $100 million in new investments to Indigenous recipients in 2018-19.

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