The 2016 West Kootenay Early Years Conference took place in Rossland on Friday and Saturday, bringing nearly 200 early childhood development professionals to the city.
The conference is biannual and rotates between Rossland, Castlegar and Nelson. This year the title of the conference was Deepening Community: From the Inside Out.
“It’s for any early childhood professional really,” said Alison Salo, West Kootenay Early Years Conference coordinator. “So early childhood educators, teaching staff at schools, Ministry of Children and Family Development employees, Interior Health employees, licensing. So anybody that’s involved with children and families potentially could be here.”
Attendees attend workshops throughout the conference. This year a lot them focused on building community and building capacity.
“So workshops focusing on topics that are of interest to anyone working with children and families,” said Salo. “We had some that were creative; we had some that were more about self care for educators; we had ones that were about implementing Aboriginal cultural content into programs, creative facilitation, working with the environment — the daycare environment — and what it might look like.”
The conference also featured Kim Atkinson and Danielle Davis as keynote speakers and recognized exceptional individuals in the field of early childhood care and education.
Atkinson and Davis are co-creators of the Images of Learning Project, an exhibit, blog and presentations that highlight the work of early childhood care and education workers and the competencies of children.
Nicola Forester was recognized as Exceptional Early Childhood Educator of the Year and Jennifer Buchan was recognized as Exceptional Family Child Care Provider of the Year.
The conference is an opportunity for early childhood educators in the Kootenays to network and work on professional development.
“Especially when people are living and working in remote small communities like we do here in the West Kootenay, we don’t have the same opportunities to network and connect that people may in larger regions,” said Salo. “And it’s also really important that we bring professional development to our region locally, because it’s hard for us to travel to Vancouver or to other parts of the province where there’s more pro-d.”