The Aboriginal HIPPY Program acknowledges that the history of colonialism and legacy of residential schools have deeply impacted Indigenous families and communities by disrupting caregiving 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 recognizes the power of the parent as a child’s first and best teacher.
In 2016, the Mothers Matter Centre led a community engagement process to determine the need for and interest in expanding the Aboriginal HIPPY program in East Vancouver. The community consultation process included consulting with partners and community stakeholders on the development and structure of a program model that better serves the needs of the Aboriginal community in the East Vancouver area.
The community consultation process shed light on the intergenerational impact of colonialism, the residential school system, and ongoing socio-economic policies and structures. Added to the effects of these complex issues is the failure of the mainstream education and income security systems to foster the strengths of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples; participation in community support programs and services, and in mainstream schooling continues to be a negative experience for many in the Urban Indigenous communities. These barriers, both historic and current, are corroborated by existing statistics which point at social inequality and exclusion issues that prevent Indigenous peoples from realizing their full measure of success with both education and the labour market. Furthermore, the East Vancouver area is particularly relevant to any initiatives that attempt to address these social inequalities because of its large Indigenous population, with many families with young children living below the poverty line.
In October 2018, the Mothers Matter Centre entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre Society (VAFCS). VAFCS will hold agreements with the Helping Spirit Lodge Society, Cedar Cottage Neighborhood House, and Mount Pleasant Neighborhood House. The groundwork is now laid out for a two-year long pilot project for the expansion of the Aboriginal HIPPY program to serve Indigenous families and neighbourhoods in East Vancouver.
Since 2002, Aboriginal HIPPY has had great success in Indigenous Nations and communities, with a culturally relevant curriculum to maximize the educational and holistic potential of Aboriginal children. Aboriginal HIPPY works with families and communities to build positive experiences in education and to strengthen their capacity to support learning. By strengthening families, we help build strong and vibrant Nations, family by family.
Aboriginal HIPPY’s model removes cultural and social barriers to participation for Indigenous parents wanting educational enrichment for their preschool children. By working collaboratively with stakeholders to provide culturally responsive, high-quality Indigenous early childhood training and support, HIPPY’s aim is to achieve a thriving state of culturally responsive and safe teaching and learning interactions – among children, parents, and caregivers – that contributes to strengthening communities, Nation-building and, ultimately, sustainable success in learning for Canada’s Indigenous children.
The expansion of the Aboriginal HIPPY program into East Vancouver will contribute to an increase in community support services that can reach more Indigenous families and children. In its pilot project, the Expansion of the Aboriginal HIPPY Program will reach over 80 families in East Vancouver. The four community support organizations support the hub and spoke model whereas Home Visitor will serve four neighbourhoods: The Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre Society, Helping Spirit Lodge Society, Cedar Cottage Neighborhood House, and Mount Pleasant Neighborhood House.
The expansion of the Aboriginal HIPPY Program into East Vancouver is made possible thanks to generous funding from the North Growth Foundation, Edith Lando Charitable Foundation, Hamber Foundation, Civil Forfeiture of British Columbia, Jordan’s Principle Funds of Canada, Vancouver Native Health Society, Hoop-law Charities, and the Vancouver Foundation.
Mothers interested in participating with their children in the Aboriginal HIPPY Program in East Vancouver should contact: