How I became a $10aDay advocate


I’ve had the incredible opportunity to be involved with the $10 a Day Plan since the beginning, back when it was vision. And I’ve had the equally incredible opportunity to have worked with the visionaries that not only saw what could be, they refused to settle for anything less.

 I was approached by Rita Chudnovsky and Sheila Davidson asking if I would like to be involved in his emerging idea because of the collaborative work I was involved in between ECE’s and the school district in the Comox Valley. I saw this as a great fit because we were being asked to consider merging our sector with the Ministry of Education. I was living that partnership in a small way already. I readily jumped on board, but soon found myself so out of my element. The collective history and knowledge of the other advisory members was so completely overwhelming that I began to second guess my decision. But, as with any great collaboration, I was welcomed into the group, was asked my opinion and felt respected as a team member. And so began my journey as a “presenter”, from the consultation process with a small group ECE’s to intimidating council meetings with municipal governments, pushing myself further and further out of my comfort zone. I got pretty wrapped up in the process of presenting and poured over my notes over and over again prior to an engagement. But it wasn’t so comfortable any more. What I think I had lost was my genuineness. Then, an educator at a presentation asked me why I thought this would work – how would ECE’s fit into the school system? Throughout this process I never had any doubt that this would work and I told the educator why. 

Back in the late eighties, I was doing my 2nd practicum and there was no centre for me to go to. I was placed instead in a kindergarten classroom. Well this freaked me out a bit. What did I know about the kindergarten curriculum? What could I possibly offer? But, when I got there the teacher, her name was Maureen, said to me, “ I am so glad you are here! I have no idea how these children got to be 5! I am glad you can help me figure that out.”

So, when I think about ECE’s working within the school district I say, “of course, what a fabulous idea”.

Sharing that story seemed to have a very positive effect on the educator and the experience taught me a valuable lesson. If you don’t believe what you are saying, no one else will. 

I have been asked to explain how I can confidently speak to everyone from parents, educators and businesses to community leaders including (yikes) and hour on my own with Tom Mulcair. My answer is that I so deeply believe in the principles of the Plan – children’s rights, quality, public funding, family support , affordability, accessibility and fair wages for educators, that I feelthat it is my privilege and also my responsibility to share this ideology with others – and it doesn’t make a difference to me who those “others” are – they need to know!  And, in honour of that wonderful teacher Maureen – I am happy to help them figure it out!

Charlene Gray is a child care advocate in Comox, BC

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