Linda McDonell

On the territories of the the Hul’qumi’num Treaty Group and Tsawout First Nation of Vancouver Island and British Columbia, Linda McDonell was an early childhood educator (ECE) and administrator in ECE for eighteen years, before coming to teach early childhood educators at Vancouver Island University, including with the First Nations Partnerships Programs.  Linda has also been the BC Regional Innovation Chair in Aboriginal Early Childhood Development at Vancouver Island University and is a two-time past president of Early Childhood Educators of BC.

This Pathway follows Linda’s story of her journey through the encounter of Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultures and peoples in supporting children, families communities and cultures in the wake, and continuing struggles, of colonization.

It is not meant to be prescriptive to anyone, nor does it purport to speak for any group of peoples. Instead, through Linda’s story of her experience it documents and clarifies elements of an important struggle internal to non-Indigenous people—educators policy makers and administrators—in early childhood education in contexts of colonization.

As an invitation to thought and action in the name of reconciliation, this Pathway presents an internal dialogue within non-Indigenous approaches to some of the contexts and challenges of Indigenous ECE and also, separate and different, of non-Indigenous ECE in histories of colonization.   From Linda’s experience and eloquence, this Pathway is a staging of that searching non-Indigenous dialogue with its own histories, one that we hope will invite the non-Indigenous in ECE (and elsewhere) to new dispositions adequate to assuming one’s own side of a common history, one shared in such profoundly different ways.  As such, the dialogues, tensions and revelations of Linda’s journey are shared and elaborated here as an exemplary non-Indigenous path of becoming worthy of something that may become reconciliation.

For, as Elders have told us, “revitalization now, reconciliation in twenty years maybe, if you’re lucky…”

On this journey, ECEBC and BCACCS want to acknowledge with gratitude that we are lucky to have Linda, and are privileged together to share her words here.

As you will find below as you scroll down, Linda’s story is developed in four moments, or ‘steps’ on the Pathway, developed in a sequence under these organizing themes:

1. Origins & Realizations: “How might it be different…?”

2.  Encounters:  “I need to learn a different way of being…and I need to ask you for help.”

3.  Transformations:  “Its very challenging on a number of levels.”

4.  New Understandings:  “I learned then about colonization…”

Whether in private or public life, in organizations or community gatherings, in professional development or education, we encourage people to come together to consider Linda’s experiences along with her.

To help when viewing the videos of the pathway, questions have been developed for discussion and follow the videos.  Often conversation in small groups can be generative, especially when groups then share with each other.  The diversity of responses and questions can be staggering in richness and challenge, so it is important to be on the journey together, to share, in what must be called leadership, the difficult questions of ‘complicated conversations.’  Often what is unexpected and unfamiliar to us in the past is the key to what could never have been expected in the future.

So, together we thank you for joining us on this journey, and raise our hands to Linda for her leadership and courage.


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