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Indigenous HIPPY and The Navigation Project

From 2018-2021, the Mothers Matter Centre is undertaking the Navigation Project in collaboration with our Indigenous Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) Program that is a part of the East Vancouver Expansion Project.

The Navigation Project (NAV) is a participatory action research study that addresses the ongoing impacts of past and existing public policies that systemically discriminate against Indigenous peoples in Canada through social isolation and disengagement (e.g., through significant gaps in the provision of programs and services for urban Indigenous mothers of preschool-age children in East Vancouver).

Indigenous HIPPY and NAV

HIPPY is a community support program. In East Vancouver, it works with parents (mothers, fathers) and caregivers of preschool-age children to provide structured, evidence-based instructional program for parents and their preschool-age children. HIPPY works with parents in their home (Home Visitations once a week) and parent group meetings (twice a month).

NAV works with and for mothers and caregivers of urban Indigenous preschool-age children in East Vancouver to provide a safe and welcoming space for mothers to build strong relationships with each other and with their traditional way of learning and sharing knowledge. The purpose of NAV is to facilitate the participation of mothers in designing and evaluating the way Indigenous HIPPY in urban spaces and other relevant programs and services work and connect with each other to advance the HIPPY theory of change.

Navigating Systems That Can Empower Mothers

To reduce the social isolation of urban Indigenous mothers is to connect, and to connect is to build authentic relationships.

This research will affect mothers (confidence and leadership), their children (through parenting), peers (mother to mother), providers of community support programs and services (e.g., the four organizations leading the East Vancouver Indigenous HIPPY expansion project), Indigenous knowledge and ways of learning (pedagogies, storytelling), and the land (medicine, history).

NAV Framework

The three pillars of the Navigation Project are: partnerships, connections, and reconciliation in action. Through these pillars it aims to address the needs and wants of urban Indigenous mothers through an exploration of how community support organizations and mothers connect with each other.

The five phases include: building relations, question period, focus groups, sense making, and reporting on transformations.

NAV Principles

The four principles of the Navigations Project are the “Four R’s” – Reciprocity, Relevance, Responsibility, and Respect.


The Navigation Project works with Community Support Organizations and Mothers of Indigenous children using different approaches, as outlined in the table:


NAV works with community partners and Indigenous mothers in East Vancouver to inform its research into programming needs within the urban Indigenous community.

Participatory Action Research

The mothers’ participation in the Dialogue Circles that inform the Navigation Project is voluntary and anonymous. With informed consent from the mothers, the Navigation Project will take input from Dialogue Circles to the Organizations participating in the East Van HIPPY Expansion to help them inform their program planning, delivery, and evaluation.

Aside from informing programming for Indigenous mothers in East Vancouver, a project memoire will be compiled at the end of the research project (video and written) that will be presented to key collaborators, funders, and other interested parties.

Organizations Involved

The East Vancouver Expansion of the Indigenous HIPPY Program is a community-based initiative by 4 local organizations: Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre, Helping Spirit Lodge Society, and the Cedar Cottage Neighbourhood House, and Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House, in collaboration with Mothers Matter Centre, Proud Home of the HIPPY Program in Canada.

To contact the Navigation Project, please reach out to the Mothers Matter Centre’s Indigenous HIPPY Canada c/o Angela Contreras.

Tel: 604-428-3257

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