Pauline McKay: Role model for positive cultural practices

Year: 2019 — Province: Ontario
Certificate of Excellence Recipient

Pauline McKay

Makonsag Aboriginal Head Start Inc.
Indigenous child care centre for children 2.5 to 6.5 years
Ottawa, Ontario

"Her engagement in the lives of all those she has come into contact with has created a strong sense of community engagement and cross-cultural understanding within the Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities."
— Nominator

With dedication and passion for Indigenous education, Pauline McKay manages the delivery of Indigenous child care services at a growing Aboriginal Head Start, advocating for opportunities to build a strong and healthy community for Indigenous children and their families.

Philosophy of care

Pauline sees herself as a publicly significant role model for positive cultural practices and healthy living. She ensures students and families can strengthen their connection to their culture through the use of Indigenous languages and cultural programming, and by having access to elders at the centre.

Support of child development

  • Supports children's physical development: invites the local nurse practitioner to the centre for well-being check-ups, and a dental hygienist to support oral health; works closely with the cook to develop nutritious snacks and lunch; plans daily gross motor activities and outdoor play.
  • Supports children's cognitive development through Indigenous early learning pedagogy: teaches children to think and act as future stewards of Mother Earth; combines traditional perspectives of caring for the Land with contemporary practices of recycling and composting.
  • Connects children and their families to their Indigenous heritage by exploring clan systems, teaching traditional forms of dance and song, and sharing traditional teachings, such as why boys, men and Elders wear braids; encourages staff to speak their Indigenous language with the children.
  • Identifies and implements the best-suited supports for children, within the context of trauma fed by poverty and colonialism, and intergenerational impacts, as well as the empowerment, well-being and healing that is emerging within Indigenous communities and Nations.

Involvement with parents, families and the community

  • Encourages families to participate and share their knowledge in the classroom, such as by teaching traditional dances; goes to great lengths to procure resources to support such activities.
  • Makes classroom accessible for parents to learn how to sew traditional regalia, preparing their children to participate in the powwow season, an important coming-of-age activity.
  • Considers every family's circumstances and gives them support where they need it (e.g. transportation, navigation, housing), using her community contacts to make referrals.

Get in touch!

Makonsag Aboriginal Head Start Inc.
#600-700 Industrial Avenue
Ottawa ON K1G 0Y9

Facebook: @Makonsag Aboriginal Head Start Inc.

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