Culture and Language


Aboriginal Head Start instills in children a positive sense of identity through culture and language curriculum related to their First Nations, Inuit and Métis cultures. A connection to their ancestry, through traditional activities and languages, provides children (as well as parents, staff and Elders) with a positive sense of themselves, their families, and their communities.


"A lot of the stuff we go through as urban First Nations people is trying to define who we are. I think here at Singing Frog there's no question about that, about what colour your skin is or what colour your hair is... we're all First Nations kids, we're all Indians. The most amazing thing about the program for me is that." - River Hill: Parent and Volunteer, Singing Frog AHS

“We have 12 Urban AHS programs in BC, each very unique and reflective of their communities and families. Each year the AHS program looks different as new families come in and others graduate. The AHS shifts a little with each new family to ensure our programs are reflective of the children’s cultures and Nations. A primary objective of our programs is to inspire pride and recognition in our heritage and our identity; therefore, it is imperative for our programs to honour each family’s roots and encourage them to share what they know with others.” – Joan Gignac, Executive Director, AHSABC


“The people here are all involved in their culture. The teachers that they hire are mostly Aboriginal, even the cooks are Aboriginal. They get good food, they get healthy snacks. That was the idea of the whole AHS program was to let the Aboriginal children and families work together and have a parents group. Make sure the parents were involved in what they did, and that still happens today, so it’s a good thing. Everybody’s out there to help the children and we’re all here to help together as a staff.” – Lavern Henderson:, Culture & Language Teacher, Laichwiltach Family Life Society


“Somebody has to keep the culture going and I feel we have to show them... The children that do come here, they’re well behaved, they’re happy and they enjoy having me here and the other Elders that come.” – Lyle Lloyd: Elder, Power of Friendship AHS


“We have to be proud of who we are as First Nations... be proud of our culture. Our culture is strong – we still do dry meat making, moose hide making... teaching our children how to snare rabbits, and things like that.” – Maisie Metecheah: Elder, Sas Natsadle AHS


Parents, staff, Elders, and former students have acknowledged how Aboriginal Head Start has given them invaluable lessons in their own and other Aboriginal cultures, shaping their identity and encouraging a sense of pride in who they are and where they come from. As expressed by Tania Mitchell, a parent whose children have been attending Singing Frog AHS in Vancouver, “They can be proud of who they are and what they can become.” Barbara Ward-Burkitt, Executive Director of the Prince George Native Friendship Centre, sees the fostering of identity as part-and-parcel of the learning process, noting that it “…gives us the confidence that it takes to learn things in a good way, and to learn things as they connect to us with those parts of our being.”


"Language is the most important thing for children to learn - it was lost to us in Residential School and foster homes." - Willie Alphonse: Elder, Little Moccasins Learning Centre AHS

“I learnt a lot of my own culture too, watching and being in the program, and being in circles, and the language.” – Jeannie Bourgeois: Former Staff, Power of Friendship AHS


“Learning the culture… makes the [children] feel special… It makes them proud of who they are and the things they know.” – Jaclyn Reyes: Parent & PAC Chair, Eagle’s Nest AHS


“For some of these children, this is the only exposure they get to the culture, so it gives them a sense of who they are and where they come from and a feeling of pride that I hope will stay with them forever.” – Gloria Roze: Elder, Qwallayuw AHS


“I thought (the children) didn’t understand or didn’t want to know the language but they took it over from their parents…. I’m so honoured that I’m sitting in a classroom like this, to learn the colours, to learn the Nations, to learn the strength of our people. I’m so grateful that the preschool is bringing it back, not just for today but preparing for the future…” – Eugene Harry: Elder, Eagle’s Nest AHS & Singing Frog AHS


“I was part of the planning committee 15 or 16 years ago… We wanted to teach 3 different languages and to teach the children the preparation of our traditional First Nations food and the value of this. We wanted to have the children learn respect for Elders, respect for parents and first of all, respect yourselves. I think this has been well implemented by all those that are involved in the program.” – Margaret Adkins: Elder, Prince Rupert AHS