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First Nations and Métis Perspectives

First Nations and Métis peoples have been involved in development of the IECSS Project from the outset. While we use many Western paradigms in our research, including Critical Disability Studies, Indigenous communities have participated in the project for many reasons:

  • 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 centres disability experiences, but recognizes the colonial present and its links to historical realities that are central to the institutional construction of disability. Understanding disability from this theoretical position shifts the focus from individual pathology to the social experience of individuals. The study uses 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.
  • Indigenous early child scholars 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 of the system itself do not align with the unique worldview of communities, these services can cause harm. As a result, participation in early childhood services can pose a risk. Our Indigenous team members and partners are working toward aligning Indigenous worldview with the right to access appropriate services and to better understand how these services can support families through non-Eurocentric and anti-racist approaches.


Ethical engagement of First Nations and Métis peoples is central to our work in this project. Our team includes community organizations and Indigenous leaders who have been part of 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 are also ensuring that the information learned from the project is available to and presented in conjunction with First Nations and Métis communities.


The term Indigenous 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. Wherever possible, we refer to specific Nations, and people as being First Nations or Métis peoples.

Indigenous Findings

  • Underwood, K., Ineese-Nash, N., & Haché, A. (2019). PDF fileColonialism in early education, care, and intervention: A knowledge synthesis. Journal of Childhood Studies, external link, 44(4), 21-35. DOI: 10.18357/jcs444201919209
  • Ineese-Nash, N., Bomberry, Y., Underwood, K., & Haché, A. (2017) Raising a Child with Early Childhood Disability Support Systems Shakonehya:ra’s ne shakoyen’okon:’a G’chi-gshkewesiwad binoonhyag ᑲᒥᓂᑯᓯᒼ ᑭᑫᑕᓱᐧᐃᓇ ᐊᐧᐊᔕᔥ ᑲᒥᓂᑯᓯᒼ ᑲᐧᐃᔕᑭᑫᑕᑲ: Ga-Miinigoowozid Gikendaagoosowin Awaazigish Ga-Miinigoowozid GaIzhichigetan. Indigenous Policy Journal, external link, 28(3),1–14. Available at
  • Underwood, K., Ineese-Nash, N., & Haché, A. (2017). Embedding Indigenous perspectives in early childhood education, care and intervention: A Knowledge Synthesis. Project report for a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Knowledge Synthesis Grant. Toronto: ON, Ryerson University.

IECSS. (2017). IECSS Indigenous Findings: Elders video. [Author] Toronto, ON.  

word fileFull video transcript available

For more information, please visit the District of Temiskaming Elders Council page on our website.