Nominate an educator

The Prime Minister's Awards for Excellence in Early Childhood Education

These awards honor outstanding and innovative early childhood educators for their leadership, exemplary early childhood education practices, and their commitment to help build the foundation children need to make the best possible start in life.

2019 Nomination Guidelines

Who is eligible?

  • Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada;
  • Educators who have successfully completed training in early childhood education and  care;
  • Candidates who have provided direct education and care to young children at least 15 hours per week in a licensed childcare centre for the past three years.

Here is the full list of eligibility criteria

What do recipients receive?

Recipients of the award receive the following:

  • Cash awards worth up to $5,000
  • A certificate from the Prime Minister
  • Promotion of their best practices in early education and care
  • National recognition for their contribution to excellence in education in Canada

How do I nominate an early childhood educator?

Nominators need to submit a detailed nomination package that includes:

  • A nomination text that shows how the educator meets the five selection criteria
  • Three letters of support from people who know and support the educator
  • Supporting documentation that confirms the educator's eligibility

How do I get started?

Start the nomination process today by downloading a nomination form.

Nomination deadline

Nomination packages must be submitted to the Prime Minister's Awards program office by email or regular mail January 14, 2019 - 11:59 Pacific time. Late entries will not be considered.

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Early childhood educators are eligible for two awards:

  • The national Certificate of Excellence
    • Carries a cash prize of up to $5,000.
    • Awards are shared equally between the recipients and their centres.
    • Recipients are traditionally invited to Ottawa to receive their award from the Prime Minister or his designate.
  • The regional Certificate of Achievement
    • Carries a cash prize of up to $1,000.
    • Awards are given solely to the recipients.
    • Recipients are traditionally honoured locally at community events and receive their award from their Member of Parliament or local leader, as appropriate.

All recipient educators receive a certificate and a letter of congratulations from the Prime Minister. Each recipient's centre also receives a certificate.

Each year, the Prime Minister's Awards for Excellence in Early Childhood Education awards up to 5 Certificates of Excellence and up to 10 Certificates of Achievement.

All PMA recipients are expected to conform to the program's Code of Conduct.

Eligibility Criteria

At the time of nomination, all nominees must meet the following criteria:

Nominees must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents.

Evidence: Nominees must sign the nomination form attesting that they are Canadian citizens or permanent residents.

Nominees must have successfully completed training in early childhood education and care.

Evidence: A copy of the nominee's official certificate from a provincial or territorial body, training certification, degree or diploma showing completion must be provided.

Nominees must work in a licensed early childhood setting, as defined by provincial or territorial government regulations.

Evidence: A copy of the setting's operating license is required (except for nominees who work in Aboriginal Head Start sites on and off reserve). For nominees working in a school-based setting, an employer letter confirming the type of school-based early learning program is required.

Nominees must provide hands-on, direct education and care to young children in a licensed Canadian ECE setting at least 15 hours per week and must have worked as an early childhood educator for at least three years and must still be teaching at the time of nomination.

Evidence: An employer letter confirming direct education and care to young children at least 15 hours per week for a minimum of three years in a licensed Canadian ECE setting is required. Separate employer letters are required in cases where the educator has worked in different ECE settings over the three-year period.


If the ECE certification is withdrawn or the license to operate is lost between the time of nomination and the award presentation, the PMA program office reserves the right to withdraw the candidacy. If eligibility status of a nomination is compromised or changes (e.g. due to loss of certification as a result of professional misconduct, the closure of a centre, etc.), the nominator and/or nominee has the responsibility to inform the PMA program office of a change in status in writing.


Some provinces and territories are beginning to integrate early childhood education programs into the K–12 system. Eligibility for individual or team nominations which may fall under both award categories will be considered on a case-by-case basis. For more information, please contact the PMA program office.

Selection Criteria

Award recipients are selected based on the excellence and innovation of their outstanding ability to engage and support the development of the children in their care, and on their overall commitment to the development of children and the early childhood education and care profession. While a specific exemplary project or practice may form part of a nomination, nominees are judged on their overall and ongoing merits as educators.

In selecting award recipients, the committee looks for clear evidence showing that nominees have excelled in all of the following four areas:

1. Support of child development

Describe and provide concrete examples of how the educator provides daily experiences that support and promote each child's physical, emotional, social, cognitive, ethical and creative development.

Nomination writing tips

You may choose to explain how the educator:

  • optimizes each child's unique development;
  • encourages children interest and participation;
  • provides stimulating and engaging learning environments for all children;
  • develops and maintains warm, caring and responsive relationships with each child and with the group of children;
  • uses observation to assess children's skills, abilities, interests and needs; and,
  • uses developmentally appropriate best practices.
2. Innovation

Describe and provide concrete examples of the educator's use of innovative and creative approaches to encourage and support each child's unique development.

Nomination writing tips

You may choose to explain how the educator:

  • captures and maintain children's interest;
  • explores new or different ideas with children;
  • recognizes and adapts to children's special needs (including physical, emotional, social, cognitive and creative needs);
  • recognizes and includes diverse economic, cultural, linguistic and regional perspectives in the learning environment;
  • respects and promotes children's home language and cultural heritage;
  • incorporates events and activities occurring in children's lives in the learning environment; and,
  • incorporates international, national, local and community events and activities in the learning environment.
3. Involvement with parents, families and the community

Describe and provide concrete examples of the educator's efforts to involve and engage parents, families and the community in children's education and care.

Nomination writing tips

You may choose to explain how the educator:

  • develops and maintains open, cooperative relationships with each child's family;
  • encourages active parent, family and community involvement in children's learning;
  • develops and uses innovative approaches to engaging and supporting parents and families;
  • fosters community contacts or partnerships that encourage or complement children's learning and activities; and,
  • develops and maintains relationships with others in the early childhood education setting, such as colleagues or with other community services and organizations involved with the children.
4. Commitment and leadership in the field

Describe and provide concrete examples of the educator's ongoing professional development, leadership and commitment to improving the early childhood education and care field and to enhancing the ability of others in the profession.

Nomination writing tips

You may choose to explain how the educator:

  • organizes or delivers professional development courses, workshops or other development activities;
  • develops and disseminates learning materials, resources and best practices;
  • provides support or training to other professionals in the field (such as mentoring and training of students);
  • fosters or contributes to the development of a team environment within their own early childhood education setting; and,
  • is actively involved in a professional organization, network or association related to early childhood education and care.

Letters of Support

Three (3) letters must be provided with each nomination, and must be dated and signed by the author. They should demonstrate a nominee's positive impact on young children and provide evidence of the nominee's excellence and achievements under any or all of the four (4) selection criteria.

Letters of support must meet the following requirements:

  • Letters must be written by anyone with direct knowledge for the nominee's accomplishments, for example:
    • Directors/Supervisors
    • Parents
    • Peers
    • Professional associations, etc.;
  • One letter must come from the centre's director/supervisor (unless they wrote the nomination);
  • Letters should not exceed two pages each;
  • Each letter must be dated, signed and issued no earlier than six months before to the nomination deadline;
  • Each letter must include contact information for the author (email and/or telephone); and,
  • Letters cannot come from a nominee's immediate family member.

Sharing Best Practices

The achievements of all recipients are promoted both nationally and in the educator's home communities. Certificate of Excellence recipients are profiled in individual videos describing their exemplary practices and how they might be replicated by other educators. The videos will be used to dynamically share national recipients' stories with the education community and the media helping to promote their accomplishments.

Selection Process

Prime Minister's Award (PMA) recipients are selected via a rigorous process that involves volunteers from major education stakeholders across Canada, including post-secondary institutions, business organizations, early childhood education associations, and parent organizations.

The program has recruited over 120 volunteer representatives from various education and early childhood education stakeholders, including provincial and territorial officials. This large number is required as each nomination package is reviewed by up to four regional evaluators. After an initial screening for basic eligibility, copies of the nomination text and letters of support are sent to our regional evaluators for review. The regional evaluators look for clear evidence that nominees have excelled in all of the following four areas:

  1. Support of child development;
  2. Innovation;
  3. Involvement with parents, families and the community; and,
  4. Commitment and leadership in the field.

Nomination packages are evaluated and ranked based on how well each nominee meets the selection criteria for the awards.

A final list of the top-ranked candidates is provided to the Prime Minister. Up to 15 awards (5 Excellence, 10 Achievement) are offered for the Prime Minister's Award for Excellence in Early Childhood Education. Provided standards of excellence are met, the PMA aims to present at least one Certificate of Excellence or Achievement to outstanding Indigenous educators.

Regional evaluators are all volunteers who give their valuable time and expertise at no cost to the program. The PMA program could not function without the generous support of our volunteer evaluators.

How to Nominate

Please complete one nomination form (ZIP, 79 KB) for each nominee. Completed nomination packages can be submitted on-line or sent by email or by regular mail.


Before submitting your application form online via our nomination form, please ensure to:

  • Download the nomination form and save it to your computer
  • Complete all required sections of the nomination form
  • Ensure you have included all required attachments by selecting the Add Attachments feature

Click the Submit button at the bottom on the nomination form

By Email

Before submitting your nomination by email, make sure you meet the following requirements:

  • Your files are saved in one of the following formats: .pdf, .doc, .docx, .rtf, .txt, .jpg, .jpeg, .tiff, .tif, .xps.
  • The total file size of your nomination does not exceed 10MB
  • Your email is sent no later than the nomination deadline
  • You submit your nomination electronically to: ic.primeministersawards-prixdupremierministre.ic

By mail

Before mailing your nomination, make sure you meet the following requirements:

  • Your nomination is postmarked no later than the nomination deadline
  • Your nomination is mailed to the following address:
    Prime Minister's Awards
    Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
    C.D. Howe Building
    235 Queen Street
    Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0H5

Who can Nominate

Nominators may be any person or group with direct knowledge of the nominee's contribution, such as:

  • Parents
  • Fellow educators
  • Centre director or supervisor, etc.

The following are not acceptable nomination methods:

  • Self-nominations
  • Nominations from immediate family membersFootnote 1.
  • Posthumous nominations

Team Nominations

  • The PMAs are designed to honour the overall accomplishments of an individual or team of up to three educators. Cash awards are to be shared equally among the team members. When team members teach in different centres, cash awards are to be shared equally among the institutions (Certificate of Excellence only).
  • Each member of a team must meet the eligibility requirements described above. A team nomination should reflect a true collaboration, not simply a collection of individual accomplishments. The nomination text should describe how the team worked together to meet each of the selection criteria.
  • Letters of support should endorse the accomplishments of all team members.
  • Only one nomination package is accepted for a team nomination; however, separate nomination forms are required for each nominee, along with a copy of each nominee's training certification, evidence of each nominee's experience, and copies of each ECE setting's operating license (if applicable).


The following candidates are eligible for a re-nomination:

  • Unsuccessful candidates
  • Past Certificate of Achievement recipients

The following candidates are not eligible for a re-nomination:

  • Past Certificate of Excellence recipients

Tips for writing and submitting a nomination

An effective nomination package should illustrate the outstanding achievements of the nominee and clearly explain why the individual should receive one of Canada's highest honours in teaching.

Nominators should:

  • Organize their text using each selection criterion as a separate heading;
  • Describe special projects, philosophies, unique learning environments, extracurricular activities, or special achievements that make this nominee excel;
  • Focus on the nominee's overall achievements and not simply on one particular project;
  • Embed relevant photos or quotations directly within the text to support the nomination; and
  • Download the nomination text template for formatting guidelines and suggestions.

Please refer to the checklist to ensure you have included all necessary information in your nomination package.


Employment and Social Development Canada, Indigenous Services Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED), as partners in the Prime Minister's Awards for Excellence in Early Childhood Education, gratefully acknowledge the volunteer contributions of numerous organizations involved in early childhood education and care across Canada who take part in the award selection process. The program could not function without the participation of these volunteers.

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