A new resource guide aimed at helping Mi’kmaq families promote cultural and learning activities with their young children was released in Halifax Thursday.
Karen Gatien, Deputy Minister for the Nova Scotia Education and Early Childhood Development, released the guide, Let’s Play Together/Toqi milita’nej – A Guide for Parents of 4-Year-Olds, at the Mi’kmaq Child Development Centre located on Gottingen Street.
“All parents want to help their children grow and develop,” Gatien said to a group of reporters and staff at the centre. “And this guide offers a lot of fun suggestions for families that they can do together,” she said.
“It contains tips for low to no cost activities for parents and care givers and culturally relevant book suggestions are linked with development areas for preschool children,” Gatien said.
Some of the suggested activities include physical activity and encouraging better communication as well as playing with others. A couple of recommended books in the guide include Robert Munsch books translated into Mi’kmaw.
Parent Lisa Robinson said the Mi’kmaw-oriented resource guide as a step in the right direction.
“Even though this is Mi’kmaw territory, sometimes it seems like we’re the ones who borrowed the land,” Robinson said. “So even steps like this just helps validate us, our culture, our people and who we are,” she said.
Important for Indigenous families to be represented in guide – Thomas
Lee Merrigan Thomas, a coordinator at the Mi’kmaq Child Development Centre, said it’s important for Indigenous families to be represented in the resources provided at the centre.
“Twenty-three years ago when we began, it was very rare to find publications that represented pictures and lifestyles of Aboriginal children,” Thomas said following the announcement.
“So today, we see this as a very positive trend,” she said.
Following the launch of the Mi’kmaq resource guide, Mi’kmaw linguist Bernie Francis from Membertou, N.S. held a reading circle with several pre-school aged children at the Mi’kmaq Child Development Centre.
Francis read the book, titled Weska’qelmut Apje’juanu, a Mi’kmaq translation of a book written by children’s author Sheree Fitch called Kisses Kisses Baby-O! Kisses Kisses Baby-O!
During the reading circle, a couple of children were able to repeat some of the Mi’kmaw words Francis read to them.
“Rarely do we get an occasion to read to little ones in the Mi’kmaw language,” Francis said after the reading circle.
“They were very brave in taking a crack at the pronunciation of some of those words. Some of those words were quite difficult,” Francis explained.
“The time to begin teaching them the Mi’kmaw language to children at this age (when) they are three, four, five years of age. That’s the time to do it,” he said.
“We should have a resource guide because there are materials all over the place that Mi’kmaw people aren’t aware of,” Francis said.