An Indigenous-led early childhood development program at Maskwacis celebrated five years of success.
The Early Years program began in 2018 as a collaboration between Ermineskin Cree Nation, Maskwacis Health Services (MHS) and the Martin Family Initiative (MFI).
It is described as an Indigenous-led approach to supporting early childhood development built on the belief that a strong society depends on the ability to nurture the development of its next generation. The program honours parents as children’s first and most important teachers.
Since its launch, the program has now been expanded to include all Four Nations of Maskwacis.
“The impact of the Maskwacis Early Years program on Ermineskin Cree Nation has been enormous. Through this program parents will have the confidence and participate in their children’s education,” says Chief Randy Ermineskin, in a news release on Friday. “Ermineskin is proud to have led the beginnings of this program with guidance from Elders and community members. The Early Years is helping our young families thrive.”
“Since 2018, the program has grown to include 30 full-time staff working with more than 200 Maskwacis families,” said MHS Health Director Randy Littlechild.
“As Indigenous People, we have always thought about health holistically – starting from before our children are born. Maskwacis Health Services’ collaboration with MFI has supported the delivery of early childhood programming grounded in our community’s culture and values.”
The (MFI) was created by former prime minister Paul Martin and works together with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation People to support education, health, and overall well-being for children, youth, and adults.
“The Early Years Program is an undeniable example of the long-term and sustainable success that can be achieved when Indigenous communities have direct control over their own services,” said Martin.