The Early Years co-creates early childhood programming to support Indigenous parents and communities where it matters most: Right At Home.

The Early Years is a collaboration between Tajikeimɨk and The Martin Family Initiative that supports young Mi’kmaw families during the most important phases of their child’s development to ensure parents/caregivers have the tools they need to be their children’s first and best teachers. The program recognizes that a child’s primary caregiver can be a parent; grandparent; extended family member; foster parent; or a kinship, two-spirit or other family member. All are welcome.

The early years will support community-based programs and staff to:

  • Walk alongside pregnant women and their families during pregnancy and the first few years of their child’s life
  • Design programming that supports overall child development and family well-being, and fits the needs of individual families and communities
  • Provide training and learning resources that reflect Mi’kmaw culture, language and values
MFI 2022 Annual Report excerpt on Tajikeimɨk's Early Years Program

Supporting Indigenous-Led Childhood Development

Early Years resources are adapted to reflect the knowledge, culture and experience of community members.

Understanding the Early Years is a training course that weaves together community-based expertise around birth and child-rearing with non-Indigenous theory about healthy child development.

The Early Years Toolbox is a collection of illustrated cards that outlines simple conversation topics, parenting strategies and playful learning activities, providing information about early learning and child development.

THE BEGINNING: Building Relationships

The Early Years team works in collaboration with community leaders, elders, parents/caregivers and service providers to co-develop and adapt programming to best meet the needs of Mi’kmaw families and their community.


From there, a program model that is informed by the community’s needs is implemented, creating career pathways for women and employing community members.

LOOKING AHEAD: Keeping it Going

Once implemented, the model continues to evolve and be adapted as impact is measured. Consistent and meaningful data collection driven by relationships ensures that community leadership can tell the stories of their programming and participants.

Guiding Principles

  • Following the Community’s Lead
  • Catalysing Local Knowledge
  • Applying Inclusive Early Learning Research
  • Adapting and Responding to Cultural Contexts
  • Measuring Progress in Community

About The Martin Family Initiative

The Martin Family Initiative is a registered Canadian charity committed to improving education, health and overall well-being outcomes for First Nations, Inuit and Métis people, while recognizing their inherent rights and distinctiveness.

The Early Years is a Martin Family initiative and is an innovative, evidence-informed program model that, starting prenatally, supports Indigenous families in community with customizable programming that weaves together science-based research, lived experience, common sense and traditional ways of knowing and being. The special connection a baby has with their caregivers builds resilience, creates a strong sense of identity and opens the door for lifelong learning.

For more information about the Tajikeimɨk Early Years, please contact us at

Join us on this journey

Community organizations and members will have opportunities to help shape and develop health and wellness programs and service priorities for the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia. Stay up to date with progress by following us on social media.

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