Niagara College joins forces with three groups to train teachers of Indigenous students


Published January 4, 2023 at 12:35 pm

A partnership between four groups has created a new pilot program at Niagara College to help train Indigenous early childhood educators for First Nations communities in Niagara Region.

The partners says the specialized training will be “widening opportunities for cultural learning while at the same time filling staffing gaps faced by licensed child care service providers.”

The Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre, Niagara College, Six Nations Polytechnic and the Region of Niagara Children’s Services Division have created the Indigenous-led Early Childhood Education (ECE) Pilot Program, which aims to grow the number of qualified staff in the workforce and increase access to high quality licensed child care for families.

“Niagara Region Children’s Services is pleased to be part of this innovative pilot project led by the local Indigenous community and post-secondary partners,” said Satinder Klair, director of Niagara Region Children’s Services.

“The success of this pilot not only means that we are continuing to learn and build stronger ties, we are ensuring Niagara families get access to high-quality, licensed child care that meets the unique needs of their community.”

The pilot project stems from critical staffing shortages across all communities but especially for Indigenous-led licensed childcare service providers because of the importance of cultural knowledge needed by Registered Early Childhood Educators.

“This program is ReconcilliAction and an example that when we move beyond policy into innovative solutions, there are benefits to everyone. We are proud to help our people and be able to do this with established partners and new partners. When we as a community succeed, all of Niagara succeeds,” said Jennifer Dockstader, Executive Director of the Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre.

“This is an important lesson that innovation and ReconcilliAction are possible when people are priority over policy. Policy can change with good leadership guiding the way and we thank all of our partners for being good leaders with us.”

There are 16 students currently enrolled in the program at Niagara College with no fees or costs to the students to undertake this program. An instructor from Six Nations Polytechnic will deliver lessons remotely and in person via the Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre.

Classes start on January 9 and run until April 2024.

As Registrar for the ECE program, Niagara College is responsible for the administration of student registrations into the program.

Niagara Region Children’s Services contributed funding to encourage the delivery of innovative strategies to support the recruitment and retention of Registered Early Childhood Educators.

Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre provided administration assistance for eligible students, space accommodations and other supports for students as they undertake the program.


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