My commitment to just and equitable futures is closely entangled with my settler ancestry. I have been an uninvited occupier on the traditional territories of the Esquimalt, Songhees and W̱SÁNEĆ First Nations for 30 years. Daily, I experience the tensions that materialize from feeling rooted to this place I call home, while at the same time knowing that I have much to learn from the Lekwungen and W̱SÁNEĆ peoples’ reciprocal relationships with the lands and waters about how to live gently here.
These tensions illuminate for me the pervasiveness of colonial influence on knowledge and practice, specifically the Euro-Western developmental ideologies that are privileged in the education system (Moss, 2014). I am concerned with this system that, as Pacini-Ketchabaw et al. (2015) suggest, “privilege[s] certain voices, knowledges and understandings, while other perspectives are marginalized or silenced” (p. 24). In Canada, the most violent colonial project carried out in the name of education was the Indian residential school (IRS) system, the tragic results of which we have been reminded of with the recent recovery of thousands of bodies from unmarked graves on former IRS sites. My discomfort compels me to consider my complicity in upholding frameworks that leave little room for alternate perspectives and ways of being, knowing and doing and provokes me to actively disrupt dominant Euro-Western theories and expand the vision we hold of children, educators and education (Pacini-Ketchabaw et al., 2015). With this disruption, I bring to my pedagogist work the wondering what else might be possible?
To collectively engage with that question, I endeavour to foster conditions (e.g., documentation processes, pedagogist visits to the centre, educator group gatherings such as learning circles)for critically reflective dialogue and creative experimentation about what we hold to be “truths” and how these “truths” manifest in early education. This is slow, collective work enlivened via curriculum inquiry to “create spaces for ‘complexity, values, diversity, subjectivity, and indeterminacy’” (Pacini-Ketchabaw et al., 2015, p. 24, citing Dahlberg et al., 2007). The BC Early Learning Framework describes how pedagogical narrations play an integral role in coconstructing knowledges (with children, families, educators, community) through curriculum making (Government of British Columbia, 2019). As a pedagogist my work involves activating this process and living curriculum and pedagogy as always-in-question. What do we (children, educators, families, communities) know? How do we know it? What and who is education for? Who and what benefits? Who and what doesn’t? Such questions nudge us to make moves, however small, towards early childhood programs being sites for socio-political actions in the name of democracy and equity (Moss, 2014).
Canadian Geographic. (n.d.). Colonialism. Canadian Geographic Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada.
Early Childhood Pedagogy Network. (2021). ECPN call to action regarding the unmarked burial site of the Kamloops Residential School.
Government of British Columbia. (2019). Early learning framework.
Moss, P. (2014). Transformative change and real utopias in early childhood education: A story of democracy, experimentation and potentiality.Routledge.
Pacini-Ketchabaw, V., Nxumalo, F., Kocher, L., Elliot, E., & Sanchez, A. (2015). Journeys: Reconceptualizing early childhood practices through pedagogical narrations. University of Toronto Press.
Victoria Child Care Resource and Referral
Chivonne is grateful to have been an early childhood educator of 28 years living and working on the ancestral homelands of the Esquimalt and Songhees First Nations, a Lekwungen speaking people. As a pedagogist, she is committed to Truth and Reconciliation and considering the TRC Calls to Action in early childhood contexts.