The history of colonialism and the legacy of residential schools have deeply impacted Aboriginal families and communities by disrupting care-giving and parent-child interaction. The traditional role of mothers and caregivers was to guide, mentor, and educate their communities’ children, and with this cultural nurturing disrupted, early development of Indigenous children was negatively affected.
Aboriginal HIPPY (Home Instruction for Parents of Pre-school Youngsters) is a program that seeks to reunify families and strengthen communities by creating a setting for Aboriginal families to re-establish and embrace their traditional role as their child’s first and best teacher.
Through our effective mother-to-mother approach, parents learn to work with their children for 15 minutes a day over five days a week delivering a culturally relevant curriculum. This curriculum aims to maximize the educational and holistic potential of Aboriginal children, age three to five, and prepare them to enter the school system with the tools necessary to succeed.
Since being established in 2002, Aboriginal HIPPY has had great success in indigenous Nations and communities. With the support of local community organizations, we currently have six operational sites in provinces across the country, both on and off reserve.
We know, from hearing first-hand, that Aboriginal HIPPY makes a positive impact of the lives of mothers, children, and communities in the program.
As a cost-effective approach, the HIPPY model removes cultural and social barriers to participation for Aboriginal parents wanting educational enrichment for their preschool children. Supporting Aboriginal HIPPY’s efforts contribute to:
- Better health, social and educational outcomes for Aboriginal parents, decreasing long-term costs.
- Increased skills in parenting offsetting colonization impacts.
- Increased participation in the Canadian economy.
We know that Aboriginal HIPPY works. It is important that, as individuals and as a nation, we focus on achieving Reconciliation. We believe that supporting Aboriginal families to ensure the success of Aboriginal children is an imperative step in the Reconciliation process because by strengthening families, we help build strong and vibrant Nations, family by family.
Contributed by Natasha Jeffreys, Program Assistant, Aboriginal HIPPY Program, Mothers Matter Centre
For more information about the Aboriginal HIPPY program: http://www.mothersmattercentre.ca/aboriginal/