5th Annual Early Learning Conference 2024

White Oaks Resort and Spa, 253 Taylor Road, Niagara-On-The-Lake, ON
February 24-25, 2024

The Métis Nation of Ontario’s Early Learning and Child Care Team is excited to announce that we will host our 5th Annual Early Learning and Child Care Conference. This year’s conference will be held at the White Oaks Resort and Spa in Niagara-On-The-Lake.

This year’s conference provides an opportunity for educators from across Ontario to enhance their knowledge of Métis children and how to support Métis children in the classrooms and community. The conference will strengthen participant knowledge of Métis culture and way of life and how to incorporate the knowledge they acquire into their learning environments respectfully and non-appropriating. This year’s conference will center on literacy, storytelling, and connection; participants will engage in professional development opportunities and obtain helpful resources within their learning environments.

We are excited to include a keynote for this year’s conference that will give participants a deeper understanding of the importance of emotional literacy within early years environments.

The application for this year’s conference will open on November 14, 2023, and remain open until December 11th or until the conference reaches capacity.

Please see below for a list of keynote speakers:

Keynote Speaker

A headshot of Mary GordonMary Gordon is a Canadian award-winning educator, best-selling author, and child advocate. Mary has presented to the UN, UNICEF, the WHO, The Nelson Mandela Children’s Foundation, and many governments. Mary has received multiple prestigious awards, including the Order of Ontario, the Order of Canada, and the Governor General’s Award for Innovation. Mary and the Roots of Empathy program are well known with educators working within the Early Years sector.

Roots of Empathy’s mission is “To build caring, peaceful and civil societies through the development of empathy in children and adults.” they believe, “The leaders of tomorrow are sitting in the classrooms of today, and they need imagination and empathy to be able to identify and solve society’s problems. Empathy is foundational to helping children navigate relationships, form connections, and be inclusive of others.”

Amanda Pont-Shanks has been a proud MNO citizen since 2009. Amanda’s family comes from the historical Red River settlement in Manitoba and still has family in Manitoba active in their Métis communities. Her grandfather chose to settle in Southern Ontario in the early 1960s for employment opportunities. Amanda’s family has stayed in the Niagara Region since and is proud to support a contemporary Métis community.

Amanda is a Registered Early Childhood Educator with the Ontario College of Early Childhood Educators. Amanda has been in the ECE field for over ten years, but her joy of the early years began in childhood. Amanda is a graduate of Niagara College and is currently a part-time student at Brock University. She has previous experience with extended-day programming, child care, and as a Designated Early Childhood Educator with the District School Board of Niagara.

Amanda was an active Niagara Region Métis Council member for seven years, serving as the council’s chair for two years. Amanda began her career at the Métis Nation of Ontario in 2016 as a Métis Family Wellbeing Coordinator, then a K-12 Education officer, and eventually moved into her current role within ELCC.

Amanda is the Programs and Services Manager for Early Learning and Child Care at the Métis Nation of Ontario. She has been in this role since the spring of 2019. Amanda and her team have launched successful programs such as the Child Care Subsidy Program, Extra Curricular Support Program, ELCC Family Camps, Early Learning Educational Kits, and the ELCC Christmas Program. Through these projects, Amanda is proud to support over 2500 Métis children across the Province. Amanda is also a National Advisory Council for Early Learning and Child Care member. The NAC provides advisory support to the Federal Government on advancing a Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care system.

Amanda resides in the Niagara Region with her husband, 16-year-old son, and their Chiweenie. She enjoys art, swimming, road trips, and campfires with her family