First Nations and Métis perspectives

Throughout the IECSS Project we have worked and consulted with First Nations and Métis peoples. There are several reasons to include Indigenous communities in the project:

  • The Ontario First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Education Policy Framework notes the importance of first peoples in Canada having input on special education and all educational policy. This project works from the principle that for people to have control over decision-making, and adherence to the principle of self-governance, it is vital for Indigenous perspectives to be sought out and applied.
  • The IECSS Project uses a social model of disability as its framework. Understanding disability from this theoretical position shifts the focus from individual pathology to the social experience of individuals. The study will use Indigenous theories of child development in analysis of all First Nations and Métis data. This means that cultural, emotional, mental, social and spiritual wellness, as well as strong identity formation, are acknowledged as important development outcomes specific to First Nations and Métis peoples in Canada (Tremblay, Gokiert, Georgis, Edwards, Skrypnek, 2013). The concept of disability itself is under investigation in this study.
  • Scholars in the field of Indigenous early child development have found that early childhood service systems are important for community and social services. This is because of their alignment with Indigenous cultural viewpoints (Ball, 2004; Nguyen, 2011). Navigating a system is complex for all families. But when the values within the system do not value unique cultural communities, the system itself is not inclusive. This may pose a risk for contributing to isolation within the broader community. We have selected Aboriginal services as sites for recruiting participants in order to better understand how these services are supporting families through a non-Eurocentric approach.

In order to support the ethical engagement of First Nations and Métis peoples in this project, we have a team of community organizations and Aboriginal leaders who have worked with the project team in the development of the IECSS Project. Throughout the project these team members are facilitating consultation with Elders and Knowledge Keepers through ongoing education of all team members about working with First Nations and Métis communities. Team members will also ensure that the information learned from the project is available to and presented in conjunction with First Nations and Métis communities.


The term Aboriginal is inclusive of First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities and is used in this project to refer to service management and delivery of services. Our primary engagement has been with First nations and Métis communities (urban, rural and remote). The term Indigenous is used in the project to describe knowledge and theory that are derived from traditional viewpoints. We refer to people as being First Nations or Métis peoples.


IECSS Indigenous Findings from IECSS/SISPE on Vimeo.

Note: Click here for the full video transcript.

IECSS Policy Brief No. 7: A submission to the Canadian National Engagement on an Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework