Skip to content


Innovating with

The Early Years supports Indigenous innovation, resilience, and know-how by working with communities and organizations to co-develop programs that optimize early childhood development.

Why it matters

Breaking the historic cycle of underfunding

Addressing injustice

Despite sustained efforts by Indigenous communities, historic underfunding of essential services has led to substantially poorer health and educational outcomes, substandard housing, high unemployment, and over-involvement of child welfare services. 

The Early Years recognizes the inherent rights and distinctiveness of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people. We acknowledge the unacceptable past of colonial and assimilationist policies, the systemic loss of Indigenous life, culture and language, and the legacy of social inequities that continues to affect Indigenous people.  

Affirming Indigenous rights

To break this cycle, we believe that Indigenous communities must have direct control over their own services. Indigenous parents must be honoured and held up as their children’s first, best, and most important teachers. We are committed to working alongside communities, leadership, and governments as they navigate existing funding structures, create sustainable service infrastructure, and develop early learning programs.

We are here to walk alongside Indigenous people, and to contribute to happy, healthy environments for generations to come. Every Indigenous child in Canada should grow up knowing who they are and confident in their own abilities.

The Impacts

Making a difference, today and tomorrow

The future of any society depends on its ability to nurture the healthy development of the next generation. By providing a variety of catalytic supports to Indigenous communities across the country, the Early Years is accelerating and amplifying their efforts in the process of change.


Number of people trained
through the Early Years course


Original, culturally adapted learning and
training resources for communities


Local elders and knowledge keepers
interviewed to inform programming and training

The Team

Working toward healthy futures

The Early Years is supported by the Martin Family Initiative, which works together with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people to support education, health, and overall well-being for children, youth, and adults. 

Meet the Early Years team, people who deeply believe in the necessity of Indigenous-led early childhood programs.


Connecting expectant parents with experienced mothers

Learn how community-based Early Years staff use early childhood research and expertise from Indigenous leaders to support families through pregnancy, the toddler years, and the first years of school.


Download our annual reports


Thank you to our many partners who believe in the power and potential of families.

The Flanagan Foundation

Anonymous Donor

David and Faye Sobey Foundation

The Ermineskin Cree Nation pilot project was made possible by the Ermineskin Cree Nation, Maskwacis Health Services, the Maskwacis Education Schools Commission, the Martin Family Initiative, and the Brain Canada Foundation through the Canada Brain Research Fund, with the financial support of Health Canada.