An Anishinaabe Perspective on Children’s Language Learning to Inform “Seeing the Aboriginal Child”


  • Sharla Peltier



This paper critically examines attitudes and professional practices based on Western-European epistemologies that perpetuate the socio-cultural mismatch between many Aboriginal children’s home and school. In the spirit of the Calls to Action by Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, an Anishinaabe[1] collaborator on the NOW Play interdisciplinary collaborative research project advocates for social responsibility and cultural competency in research and educational praxis within the context of the early learning and child care environments of Aboriginal[2] children. Culturally sensitive approaches for “seeing the Aboriginal child” are illustrated for moving forward in supportive relationships to promote research and learning in early learning and child care settings. This paper underscores and illustrates the first priority for researchers and educators: to take the time in research and pedagogical encounters to really “see” the Aboriginal child through appreciation of the sociocultural, philosophical, and linguistic distinctiveness of Aboriginal families.

Discovery of new knowledge in novel contexts and refinement of understandings with new insights, once consolidated are foundational to knowledge mobilization strategies that include professional development training. A generative process uncovers more effective strategies that honour Indigeneity[3] and meet Aboriginal children’s learning needs.

[1] The term Anishinaabe refers Anishinaabemowin-speaking people and the group includes the Algonquin, Chippewa,Delaware,Mississauga, Odawa, and Ojibway and Potawatomi people of the Great Lakes Region.

[2] The term Aboriginal is commonly used inCanada and is used in this paper to refer specifically to the Indigenous people inCanada (Helin, 2006). “Aboriginal” is the term used in the Canadian Constitution to refer to Indian, Inuit and Metis”.

[3] According to the International Labour Organization of the United Nations, the concept of indigeneity refers to: tribal peoples whose social, cultural and economic conditions distinguish them from other sections of the national community and whose status is regulated wholly or partially by their own customs or traditions or by special laws or regulations, and to peoples who are regarded as Indigenous on account of their descent from the populations which inhabit the country at the time of conquest or colonisation. (Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989 (No. 169). Article. 1.




How to Cite

Peltier, S. (2017). An Anishinaabe Perspective on Children’s Language Learning to Inform “Seeing the Aboriginal Child”. Language and Literacy, 19(2), 4–19.