“In many of our languages the words ‘child’ and ‘gift’ are the same,” (Monique Gray Smith). And at MFNERC we work to support the educators who are nurturing the gifts of our children.
To that end, our early childhood program has been very busy lately, presenting workshops and facilitating networking forums. On Jan. 28th it was our early years specialists who hosted a gathering for early childhood educators from around First Nations in Manitoba. Those in attendance all take part in the Seeds of Empathy program, and they were eager to share updates and stories from their centres.
Representatives from Garden Hill and St. Theresa Point gave in-depth presentations on their programs, with a particular focus on how they incorporate culturally appropriate material. “We want our children to know our stories,” stated Natty Flett of Garden Hill. And then went one step further by entertaining everyone with a rendition of Kaakaakee Kaakaakee, a story that is unique to the Island Lake region, and is about a raven who learns the negative effects of bullying.
Later in the day Monique Gray Smith from Victoria, B.C. gave a powerful presentation on resiliency: what allows some people to bounce back from a trauma and others not? Particularly, how this question relates to children and the Seeds of Empathy program, “By asking our children to talk about their feelings, giving them a wide vocabulary for it, we are helping to break those rules we were taught [in residential school] of ‘don’t talk, don’t trust, don’t’ feel’…it requires only one person in the life of a child to do this, to help them learn resiliency. And for many of these children that one person is you.”