Today, on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Child Care Now reaffirms our support for the Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework Agreement and recommits to work to work with others in answering the Calls for Justice, issued by the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action, including the call on governments to develop culturally appropriate early childhood education programs for Indigenous families.
The federal government has signed agreements with the provincial and territorial governments, and transferred significant federal funds, to build a Canada-wide system of high quality, inclusive, accessible, affordable early learning and child care. It is imperative that the implementation of these agreements and all related funding decisions respect and advance the Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework which sets out the policy conditions necessary to give all First Nations, Métis and Inuit children the right “to experience high-quality cultural rooted early learning and child care programming.” For far too long, Indigenous peoples have been subjected to horrific violence at the hands of settlers. Truth and reconciliation must include funding and support for Indigenous-led and culturally-safe early learning and child care developed and governed by Indigenous communities and governments.
We are still a long way from truth and from reconciliation. First Nations, Métis and Inuit children are overrepresented in Canada’s foster care system; they experience higher rates of poverty, food insecurity, and inadequate housing. Access to quality, affordable, and culturally appropriate child care can help address these inequities. In partnership with Indigenous peoples, communities and their organizations, we will continue to advocate for distinctions-based Indigenous-led early childhood education programs, and we will work to transform the entire early learning and child care sector to ensure that all programs everywhere are welcoming, inclusive and culturally-safe for Indigenous children, their families and communities. Child Care Now will make sure that our commitment to Indigenous peoples and their communities is central in all of our work.