Inspiration for this project came from ongoing university-community collaborations involving Jessica Ball and Aboriginal ECD program managers in First Nations communities and in the provincial and national offices of Aboriginal Head Start. These groups are asking questions that recognize the cultural nature of development such as: ‘What are developmental milestones for Aboriginal children?’ ‘How can we evaluate effects of Aboriginal ECD programs in culturally appropriate ways?’ ‘How can we prevent over-diagnosis of Aboriginal children as a result of experts using standardized tools?’ ‘How could population-based studies of Aboriginal children be done that recognize our cultural-specific goals for our children?’ The project addresses the need to consider Indigenous and local knowledge in conceptualizations of the goals and trajectories of early childhood development in Indigenous communities, and to reflect aspects of this knowledge in the ways we define and measure constructs such as developmental milestones, school readiness, self concept, cultural identity, and various special needs.
The project seeks to increase understandings of First Nations goals for community development that supports children’s development, and to innovate culturally relevant assessment and intervention meeting the needs of Aboriginal young children and families.
All participating communities place a high priority on achieving optimal support for families with young children and promoting positive development outcomes. They became project partners because of exemplary systems of service delivery promoting ECD and their emphasis on Indigenous culture in child care and goals for children. They shared their stories of program and community development with other First Nations, via planned research activities to characterize child development environments. They also saw the project as a way to hold a mirror to their community by gathering reports from parents, Elders, and children themselves, as a useful process for community planning. The project enabled the communities to take stock of the extent to which their First Nations culture currently influences child-rearing in their community, including parenting, goals for children’s development, and family life.
Research ethics involving Indigenous communities
Characterizing Indigenous child development
Child environment-impact statements
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada: Major Collaborative Research Initiatives
A Networked Approach
This project was one of 10 component projects in a national study of early childhood. Each of the 10 projects focused on a different aspect of how infants’ and young children’s environments impact their biological, psychological, and social development. Each project involved collaborations across academic and professional disciplines and between universities and community agencies in British Columbia. Visit www.earlylearning.ubc.ca/CHILD.
Jessica Ball or Pauline Janyst