The Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) held its 5th annual Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) Conference on February 24th and 25th at the White Oaks Resort and Spa in Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario. The conference drew more than 350 participants, with 250 from the early childhood education sector, all seeking insights on integrating Métis culture and history into the classroom.

During the two-day conference, predominantly non-Indigenous attendees engaged with MNO early childhood education experts, exploring strategies to incorporate Métis content respectfully and educationally. This work aligns with the MNO’s dedication to fulfilling the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action 12 and 63, aimed at enhancing culturally appropriate early childhood education programs and guiding educators in effective implementation.

The focus of this year’s conference centred on early literacy, presenting new children’s books featuring Louis Riel and the Powley family. Attendees received educational toolkits aligned with the Ontario Curriculum for post-conference initiatives. Notable keynote speakers, including Canadian award-winning educator, Mary Gordon and MNO’s ELCC Programs and Services Manager, Amanda Pont-Shanks delved into discussions on building responsive environments through meaningful relationships and introduced an innovative educator resource, The Giving Tree: Story Bag, based on the book The Giving Tree: A Retelling of a Traditional Métis Story by Métis artist and writer, Leah Dorion.

As part of the ongoing implementation of Métis self-government and rights in Ontario, the 30th Annual General Assembly of the Métis Nation of Ontario passed a resolution titled “Revitalizing Our Stories, Histories, Alliances and Relationships.” This comprehensive strategy includes four pillars: telling stories and histories, building an Ontario Métis Educational Institute, rekindling relationships with First Nations, and defending Ontario Métis youth, families, and communities against misinformation.

Aligned with these pillars, the annual conference, funded through Canada’s Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care (IELCC) program, serves as a pivotal platform for advancing culturally appropriate early childhood education programs. The MNO ELCC Program’s actions highlight the MNO’s dedication to collaborating with Ontario educational institutions, promoting Métis history, identity, rights, and culture, ensuring a supportive environment for Métis youth without fear of bullying or harassment.


“Our goal is to share knowledge and create inclusive educational materials benefitting Métis and all children and educators across the province. Culturally sensitive content fosters Métis children’s belonging and enhances understanding of Indigenous history for individuals from diverse backgrounds. Committed to progress, we continuously enhance our Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) programs. Through this conference, our aim is to create a safe and welcoming space where attendees feel at ease, fostering active engagement and learning.”

  • Amanda Pont-Shanks, ELCC Programs and Services Manager, Métis Nation of Ontario

“In 2023, I was encouraged to attend the Early Learning and Child Care Conference hosted by the Métis Nation of Ontario. This was a great learning opportunity to build upon the Métis project the children had just started. To say this conference was inspirational is an understatement. I walked away with a new appreciation for Métis culture. The week after the conference, the children and I opened our Métis early learning kit and began to explore all the items within it. Our child-led learning journey has continued, and we have observed some amazing interest and learning from both children and educators.”

  • Monique Stokes, Registered Early Childhood Educator, Halton Regional Children’s Services

Media Contact:

Victoria Belton
Senior Consultant, Media Profile