'Tapping into Tech' in the Early Years during COVID-19

Lessons Shared and Next Steps


Moderated by Jason Gordon

Panel Presenters: Dr. Alison Gerlach, Symbia Barnaby, Diana Elliott and Crystal Kalas


March 2, 2022 11:35 am
'Tapping into Tech' in the Early Years during COVID-19

Long before the COVID-19 pandemic, many families living in rural and northern parts of BC and raising young children with extra support needs, often faced multiple barriers to accessing a wide-range of information, supports and services for their children’s early health, development and well-being. The pandemic has shone a light on the untapped potential for information and communication technologies(apps, cell phones, Facebook, teleconference platforms such as Zoom etc.) to be used as long-term,
additional ways for parents to access early child health and development information and programs in BC.

This interactive session will be led by a panel of presenters/community researchers from a province-wide ‘Tapping into Tech’ project that aims to inform the use of technologies based on the experiences, views and preferences of rural and northern families, early childhood service providers and agencies: https://onlineacademiccommunity.uvic.ca/tappingintotech/

To build on lessons learned during COVID19 and reflect on next steps, audience members are invited to take 10 mins to complete an anonymous brief survey about their experiences using technologies during the pandemic to provide early child development and health services and supports to families. Survey results will be shared with the audience and used to further inform the ‘Tapping into Tech project’ and future engagement with service providers in rural and northern communities in BC.


Dr. Alison Gerlach

Assistant Professor, School of Child and Youth Care at the University of Victoria
Co-lead of the Tapping into Tech project

Alison is an Assistant Professor and White-settler in the School of Child and Youth Care at the University of Victoria and co-lead of the Tapping into Tech project. Alison’s program of research aims to inform how early childhood and intervention services and systems can be inclusive of and responsive to families whose daily lives include experiences of structural marginalization and discrimination. She is currently collaborating on multiple projects including with the BC RCY Office on a research brief – ‘Orienting an Early Years System of Care towards Equity’, co-leading a 2-year provincial participatory action research project ‘Community Voices on Tapping into Tech’, partnering on a Jordan’s Principle Project in Manitoba and trauma and violence informed childcare program in Victoria BC.

Symbia Barnaby

Community Researcher – Tapping into Tech Project

Symbia is a Community Researcher on the Tapping into Tech project. Symbia is an Indigenous woman of Haida and Mi’kmaq descent living in northern BC. Her traditional Haida name is Guu Gaa Jung and her spirit name is Warrior Woman. She is a single mother of 6 children (5 of whom have disabilities ranging from autism spectrum disorder to ADD and ADHD). She is trained as a Practical Nurse, a birth/postpartum Doula and a Reiki Level 3 practitioner. She is also a storyteller, film-maker and Wisdom Translator. Symbia has consulted on, developed and run many workshops on anti-racism, disability, inclusive education, intersectionality and health equity through an Indigenous lens. Symbia also volunteers as the lead for the Health Advocacy Team with a national NGP called Moms Against Racism Canada.

Diana Elliott

Provincial Advisor – Aboriginal Infant Development Programs in BC

Diana is the Provincial Advisor for the Aboriginal Infant Development Programs in BC and a member of the Tapping into Tech Community Council. Diana is Coast Salish from Cowichan Tribes in Duncan with equal roots in the Nuu Chah Nulth Territory and the Hupacasath First Nation in Port Alberni. She values the cultural teachings of her Elders and incorporates these teachings and philosophies into her daily work and ethics. Working from the philosophy that each child is a gift from the Creator, Diana appreciates the importance of enriching early and lifelong learning and the benefits of family and parenting support from a culturally meaningful and safe place. Diana is proud to work with 53 AIDP for 28 years as a front-line worker, supervisor and program manager that led her to her current role as the Provincial Advisor for AIDPs both on- and off-reserve throughout B.C. for the last 17 years.

Crystal Kalas

Special Services Supervisor – Fort St John Child Development Centre
Community Researcher – Tapping into Tech project

Crystal is a Special Services Supervisor with the Fort St John Child Development Centre and a Community Researcher on the Tapping into Tech project. Crystal has worked at the Fort St. John CDC for the past 20 years and has held a variety of roles during that time. She values the opportunity she has had to walk alongside the children with special needs and their families, with whom she works through their journey from early diagnosis to adulthood. A perpetual learner, Crystal enjoys taking on new opportunities and expanding her knowledge base.