Structural Challenges & Inequities in Operating Urban Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Programs in British Columbia

  • Alison Gerlach University of Victoria
  • Shemine Gulamhusein MacEwan University
  • Leslie Varley BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres
  • Magnolia Perron BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres
Keywords: early childhood, Aboriginal children, equity, Truth and Reconciliation, Indigenous governance, self-determination, children’s rights, Aboriginal Head Start


Funding for urban, not-for-profit Indigenous early learning and childcare (ELCC) programs has not kept pace with a rapidly growing urban Indigenous population, increasing operational costs, and the rights of Indigenous children. In British Columbia (BC), closure of a prominent Indigenous ELCC program prompted a study of some of the key factors influencing the operation of Indigenous ELCC programs in BC. This qualitative research highlights the priorities, concerns, and recommendations for supporting the operational success of urban, not-for-profit Indigenous ELCC programs and upholding the rights of Indigenous children. These findings have relevance for Indigenous ELCC programs that are facing operational challenges in BC and other jurisdictions in Canada.


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