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Erin Pauls - Dusk'a Head Start Family Learning Centre

Year: 2017 – Province: Yukon Territory

Transcript—Erin Pauls Video

[Erin Pauls speaks to camera, with the Parliament buildings as a backdrop behind her]

[Photos of Erin and her students are displayed on screen throughout her interview]

[Upbeat music plays softly in the background]

My name is Kotheti (ph), and my English name is Erin Pauls,

[Text on screen: Erin Pauls, Yukon]

and I am from the Chioni (ph) Clan, which is the Wolf Clan. And I'm from the Tahltan and Tlingit nations, and I'm a member of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations.

Winning the award makes me feel really amazing. I think I've worked really hard in my life to get to where I am. And I know teaching is not a easy profession, and there's lots of days that are really hard, but winning something like this makes it all worthwhile.

I was working in child care, and then I went to university to become a teacher. I love how it's exciting. I really like how personal it – it is, and how you can really connect with your students.

My presentation today was about infusing First Nations culture and language revitalization within the classroom. We have come up like a phoenix as First Nations people. We are reclaiming our languages, we're reclaiming our songs, we're reclaiming our dances. We are here, we are strong, and we are proud of who we are. And that is what I want every First Nations child to feel that comes through our school.

And if I had one piece of advice for people who want to be educators, I would say go for your dreams. I would tell you that it is not an easy profession. Just keep going and trying your best and – and coming in every day with optimism and happiness to share with your children.

I wanted to give a big shout-out to all the kids that I work with. You are our greatest teachers, our children. And the lens that you see life through is truly the way I think all adults should remember the world.

[Text on screen: Teacher Erin Pauls:"I sing and dance with Erin. I like wearing my vest when I sing with Erin. I have fun singing and dancing." Kanon, student at Dusk'a Head Start Family Learning Centre]

[Canada wordmark]

[Music ends]

Certificate of Excellence Recipient

Erin Pauls

Dusk'a Head Start Family Learning Centre
47 McIntyre Drive
Whitehorse, Yukon Y1A 5A5

Telephone: 867-633-7816
Email: N/A

Type of setting: Family Learning Centre, children aged 18 months to 5 years

A hunter and fisher, Erin Pauls is from the Wolf Clan and identifies and Tahlltan and Tlingit and is a member of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations. She demonstrates leadership in cultural excellence and encourages cultural opportunities through rich reciprocal relationships with Elders and the community.

Philosophy of care

Pauls believes that children learn through rich hands-on experiences and play – especially in outdoor environments. Passionate for her culture, she strives to incorporate Indigenous culture in every aspect of her teaching.

Support of child development

  • Supports her staff in taking children on field trips to the fire department, parks and swimming pools, the Yukon Wildlife Preserve and the Salmon Fish Ladder.
  • Partners with the local schools to allow her students to visit and experience kindergarten classroom environments before moving on.
  • Personally facilitated traditional dancing, drum making, rattle making, regalia making, elders program, family luncheons, and "handle with care", which is a parenting program that promotes children’s mental health.

Involvement with parents, families and the community

  • Pauls maintains strong relationships with community providers to ensure that children with special needs receive the required support.
  • Committed to the revitalization of the Southern Tutchone language, Pauls hosts language lunches with special guest speakers. She also works to provide her students with exposure to the language through visits with Elders, books and tapes.
  • Opens up the centre’s fire pit to families every Friday morning to tell traditional First Nation stories and enjoy bannock on a stick.

Rave reviews

"It takes a community to raise a child, and Erin Pauls has dedicated her life to the health, education and wellbeing of all of the children she meets. She isn’t someone who just talks about how things can or should be better, she is a catalyst for positive improvements and change within the Yukon and across Canada."


"Erin’s focus and enthusiasm drives her ability to bring First Nations culture and language to the children at Dusk’a Head Start."

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