It’s rare that men will teach young children at daycare centres and schools across the province.
Many reasons are behind this, particularly that women are more likely to go into the field of education. There is also society’s entrenched view of women as a nurturer that is more involved in the rearing of children. Breaking the mold however are two young men among a class of 14 who have spent the year training as educators in Native Childcare.
Allan Icebound and Delmer Hughboy, both in their early 20s, began their studies in March 2013 along with 19 others and are set to complete the program for educator in Native Childcare by July 16. The rigorous program requires students to complete 18 competencies, which consist of fostering Native values and culture, safety measures, guidance methods, among many others. The educators in training also were required to complete work placements of 1,455 hours at the childcare centre.
Taking the plunge into the field at first was a bit challenging for the two young men and 12 female students. But after going through the program, the entire class of 2013 developed a tight bond. “At first no one knew each other,” Icebound said. “But after we spent time together the whole class was working together like a family.”
This is the first time men have completed this program in instructor Holly Nathan’s 10 years of teaching it in Wemindji.
“Although the program is not gender specific it has always been women that are interested in [the program],” Nathan explained. “It is the first time I’m seeing males taking part and it was nice to see their perspective.”
By taking part in the program, Nathan believes the addition of the young men into the childcare work force will provide a positive male role model into the lives of First Nations children many of whom come from single-parent homes of usually a mother.
Although going through the program is a challenge, the young men faced extra hurdles as they crossed a cultural norm.
“Sometimes the kids would say stuff like ‘You can’t be a teacher. You’re a boy!’” Icebound recalled. “In the end it was my motivation to be a good role model that got me to finish the program.”
As the program comes to a close, the educators will no longer be in training and will set out to make a difference in the lives of Native children and give them 14 more role models.