CARE CULTURE New partnership advances Indigenous early childhood education

When Christine Sampson moved to Vancouver 15 years ago from Prince Rupert, B.C., she trained and worked as a child care provider. Christine loves children and enjoyed her job, but full-time positions were scarce at the time. With a daughter of her own to support, Christine turned to retail jobs for a more reliable income, letting her provincial Early Childhood Educator certificate expire.

While off work due to surgery in 2017, Christine, who is a member of the Lax kw’alaams First Nation, learned via Facebook about VCC’s early childhood care and education (ECCE) training program offered in partnership with the Musqueam Indian Band. With her daughter now grown up, Christine decided to revive her career. “It was time to get back to living life for myself,” she says.

I believe we all need to know where we come from.

VCC’s early childhood care and education student,Christine Sampson, reading a children's book in a kindergarten class

This training partnership, funded in part by the B.C. Ministry of Advanced Education, offers Indigenous students the opportunity to first upgrade basic skills, then ladder into VCC’s ECCE certificate program, all in a familiar setting with a full range of supports.

Another goal of the program is to provide licensed and culturally informed child care staff for future Musqueam residential developments.

Christine, now confident about finding full-time work, is currently completing her practicum at tə mem̓ən̓əsʔewtxʷ (The Children's House), Musqueam’s onsite child care facility. Here, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous children are exposed to traditional languages, songs, stories, and art—a stark contrast to residential schools of the past. “We’re preserving culture,” says Christine. "I believe we all need to know where we come from. That’s why I enjoy this work."

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