The land of the Maple Leaf
the Education Managers experiences in Canada – July 2012
In July 2012 Beth Huddleston and Eileen Kennedy, Education Managers presented at an International ECE Conference in British Columbia Canada. The presentation was called NZ Kindergarten Teachers and Narrative Assessment.
We had about 60 participants in our session who came from many of the provinces in Canada. Of course with Canada being such a huge country many participants had a seven hour flight within their own country to attend this Conference. Our presentation presented research we had undertaken with two teaching teams Mary Richmond and Wharerangi. Our findings were presented in the booklet - Golden Threads of Learning - (a copy of which has gone out to each kindergarten). The participants were absolutely delighted to receive a copy of the book which contains ample illustrations of excellent narratives that record children’s learning over time. The participants also had a keen interest in our bicultural practices. We commenced the presentation with a Karakia, Mihi and Waiata. They had many questions about our cultural integration and bi cultural Curriculum Te Whaariki. There were also many questions about how our services are funded, who has access to them, teacher registration process and provision for children with Special Needs.
Visiting Child Care centres.
We were invited to visit several child care centres on the University Campus which catered for children from ages 18 months to six years. These centres were just beginning on their journey of using narrative assessment with their children. The Canadians have a very high level of interest in our experiences working with learning stories, which is just starting to emerge in Canada and are keen to learn from us. In Canada each province has its own curriculum and regulations there is no one overarching system for early childhood.
David Suzuki Centre in Vancouver
We received a guided tour through the David Suzuki foundation headquarters in downtown Vancouver. Our interest in this has stemmed from our Enviro Schools focus. David Suzuki is a world renowned environmentalist. His work is concerned with environmental issues that directly affect Canada e.g. preserving and valuing First Nations culture, saving the natural environment of grizzly bears, protecting wild salmon habitats and waterways. The Suzuki Foundation also addresses global environmental issues that affect us all such as climate change, global warming and overusing finite energy resources. David Suzuki himself is now in his seventies and has officially retired but the work of his Foundation continues to expand and flourish. We were impressed by the intelligent work of this organisation. As a ‘green’ organisation the physical setting of the offices was of course very aesthetically pleasing with sustainable practices being modelled. The offices were filled with truly inspiring art from the First Nations people of Canada.
Fist Nations Culture and Art
We visited two major museums during our trip - Victoria Museum and the British Columbia Museum of Anthropology. At these places we learnt a great deal about the culture of Native Indian and Inuit people who are the indigenous people of Canada. We were interested in the Indian totem poles that had similarities to Maori Pou. The eagle, raven, frog and bear have a great significance in First Nations totem poles and art forms. One theory of the ‘why we are here’ is the ancient belief that an eagle smashed a clam shell and from inside came human children. There was a massive carving depicting this at the museum.
Canadian landscapes, flora and fauna
We travelled throughout different areas of British Columbia seeing rivers, lakes, mountains, forests, harbours, wine growing areas and the famous Butchart gardens. We have included a range of pictures to give you a sense of some of these places. We saw several wild deer, one roaming freely around the University grounds, moose, squirrels, ravens, eagles, coyote and humming birds. The closest we got to a bear was bear poo on a lakeside hike.
Our overall impressions were that Canada is:
- a thriving prosperous country,
- a country of breath taking beauty with a real and working commitment to protecting its environment
- a country of friendly and very good natured people of many diverse backgrounds, culture and language.
- For your interest we have included photographs of some of our experiences in Canada.
Eileen Kennedy and Beth Huddleston
Education Managers, Napier Kindergarten Association.