Confederation College to Lead Regional Centre of Excellence for Early Years and Child Care

Maria Cole and Anita Broere

THUNDER BAY – EDUCATION – Confederation College’s Early Childhood Education (ECE) program has been recognized for its innovative approach to education and child care. Approached to lead the regional Provincial Centre of Excellence for Early Years and Child Care, program faculty will spearhead the initiative and students in the program will receive added benefit for their learning.

The Ministry of Education named the University of Western Ontario and the Ontario Reggio Association leads for the provincial initiative, with Confederation College named a supportive partner responsible for work being carried out in Thunder Bay and the northwestern Ontario region. Confederation is one of six regional leads in the province along with Sudbury/North Bay, Barrie, London, Toronto, and Ottawa.

“This Centre of Excellence promotes the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and embraces the values of Ontario’s pedagogical framework titled How Does Learning Happen,” said Anita Broere, ECE Program Coordinator. “It challenges the way we think about our work with children and starts with seeing the child, educator and family as competent and capable co-researchers with unique rights and responsibilities.”

Broere is joined by program professor Maria Cole in overseeing the Centre and they both shared their excitement for the unique opportunities this will provide to students of the program.  “This will foster the ability of our ECE students to train in a forward-thinking environment and prepare them to enter the field of child care with an advanced understanding of Ontario early childhood pedagogies,” said Broere.

Based on the guiding principles of democracy, social justice and experimentation, the Centre of Excellence is a public forum where educators, children, and families collaboratively invent and imagine early childhood education together. Provincial Centre of Excellence goals include:

  • improving and sustaining the quality of early years programs;
  • supporting a dynamic and holistic early years sector with long-term investment in continuous innovative and cutting-edge professional learning;
  • nurturing a commitment to truth and reconciliation with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities within the entire early years sector;
  • promoting a view of children as citizens of today with rights and responsibilities; and
  • promoting strong and culturally-relevant local communities of practice among early years programs.

A major element of the provincial plan is that each region should adapt the plan to meet local needs. Maria Cole will act as regional coordinator for Confederation’s Centre of Excellence to help facilitate that process.

“We will look at the current perspectives, strengths, and challenges of the local communities in our region and address how this impacts children’s and families’ lives and our work with them,” said Cole. “Where we put our focus may differ from major metropolis areas and will support pedagogies at a community level.”

Confederation College is currently working with four regional organizations and expects the list of partners to grow in the coming months. Current partners include: FIREFLY, Lakehead University, Oshki-Pimache-O-Win: The Wenjack Education Institute and the Seven Generations Education Institute.

The Early Childhood Education Centre of Excellence is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Education in partnership with the Government of Canada. To learn more about the ECE program at Confederation College, visit