Tag Archives: research

Keep them coming back for more – Amy Parent

In 2009, now PhD student at UBC and video speaker from Module 2 of Etec 521, Amy Parent completed her Master’s thesis:  Keep them coming back for more: Urban Aboriginal Youth’s perceptions and experiences of Wholistic education in Vancouver.

The goal of the thesis was to gain insight into the experiences of Aboriginal youth who were participating in Aboriginal organizations in Vancouver.

Amy also published a community report that is available on the Vancouver based Urban Native Youth Association website.  This 8 page report summarizes the 196 page dissertation that she submitted and contains key findings and lessons learned from the youth.

In writing her thesis, Parent hoped that it would encourage development of a wholistic educational framework for Aboriginal youth which pursues the goal of transformative praxis by honouring Indigenous culture within a positive, empowering and generative contemporary urban context.  I’ve read both the report and the thesis and can tell you that her research was exhaustive, thought-provoking, and ground-breaking.

Of note, Parent add a fifth R (relationships) to the well-received Four R research framework put forward by Kirkness & Barnhardt (1991).  These authors argued that  research in Aboriginal communities should be reciprocal, relevant, responsible, and respectful.  For Parent, the fifth R allows her to maintain relational accountability to her family, clan (Nisga’a), and community.

I recommend the study for anyone who is looking for an extensive literature review of leading Indigenous research.  Additionally, Amy’s findings on urban Aboriginal youth are thoughtfully framed by an explanation of wholistic education that is second to none.  Finally, the commentary, stories, and interjections about her guide, the Raven, is worth the price of admission on its own.

Urban Aboriginal Peoples Study

Aboriginals are the fastest growing population in Canada.  The 2006 census revealed that there are half a million First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people living in Canadian cities and that over 50% of this population is under 25 year old.  Given the dramatic increase in urban populations, 60% of Canada’s Aboriginals now reside in urban settings, more research is sorely needed to understand how Aboriginals and Non-Aboriginals are relating in this atmosphere of rapidly changing demographics.

The Urban Aboriginal Peoples Study (UAPS) began to take shape when Michael Adams, founder and president of Environics Research Group and the non-profit Environics Institute, and Dr. David Newhouse, Chair of Indigenous Studies at Trent University, found themselves at a conference discussing social change among Canada’s Aboriginal groups.  In response to the startling information emerging from the 2006 census, Dr. Newhouse asked: “Does the average Canadian have any image of who these people are, how they relate to their cities, what they are contributing, or what their challenges are?”

The approach being suggested by Dr. Newhouse differs from earlier studies that focused research on social-services being utilized by Aboriginal populations.  That research tended to view Aboriginal communities through the lens of some problem or need— without the needed complexity to generate meaningful understandings of urban Aboriginal groups.

Hence the UAPS was born.  The Study has been funded by the government of Canada, the governments of various provinces, some private organizations, Elections Canada, and the United Way.   The goal of the UAPS was to gone beyond the numbers and capture the values, experiences and aspirations of Aboriginal peoples living in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Regina, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Thunder Bay, Toronto, Montreal, Halifax and Ottawa. 2,614 First Nations peoples, Métis and Inuit living in these major Canadian cities, as well as 2,501 non-Aboriginal Canadians were surveyed.

    Click here for the UAPS report summary, full report, or quick key findings from the study.  City findings are also available such as the  Vancouver City Report

      This research is useful for anyone looking for comprehensive information about the dynamic interaction between Non-Aboriginals and Aboriginals in Canada’s major cities.

      Decolonizing Our Schools

      Decolonizing Our Schools: Aboriginal Education in the Toronto District School Board

      Report presented: September 30, 2010.  Written by Aboriginal scholar Dr. Susan D. Dion, along with Krista Johnston and Dr. Carla Rice

      In this report, the authors describe the work of the Urban Aboriginal Education Pilot Project (UAEPP) in Toronto District schools (TDSB) between April 2009 and September, 2010. It’s interesting to note that the goal of the UAEPP is to deliver education that is “worthy of our children and our ancestors” in a large, diverse urban context.  Much of the report is based on the research findings of the Talking Stick Project.

      The research confirms what Aboriginal parents, students, and educators already knew: institutions of formal schooling are failing to provide Aboriginal students with the educational environment and experiences that they need to achieve success. Urban Aboriginal students face a number of unique problems – they are unable to find suitable connection with cultural knowledge and do not see themselves represented in the curriculum.  They are “encouraged to attend school in the spite of a long, negative, and hurtful relationship between Aboriginals and schooling.”  School employees in urban settings face unique challenges in first of all recognizing Aboriginal student populations and then delivering programs when FN students are dispersed across a range of schools.  Additionally, almost all educators lack the requisite knowledge and training for meaningfully teaching Aboriginal subject matter.

      After interviewing and studying approximately 200 students, parents, teachers, administrators, community members, and other stakeholders the following four key findings were generated:

      1. TDSB must recognize the importance of understanding and responding to Aboriginal students, youth, and their learning needs

      • reject narrow definition of learning and success in the form grades in favour of a focus on well-being

      2. Meaningful incorporation of Indigenous issues must be supported by providing thoughtful pro-d for teaching staff

      • educators need access to expertise and training to understand Aboriginal culture and appreciate their role “inheritors of a colonial legacy.”  This is part of the larger process of Decolonization and Indigenizing.  Teachers must be prepared to take on this challenge and must be supported in their attempts to do so.

      3. Schools must be transformed in order to Decolonize and Indigenize learning spaces

      • Aboriginal students and Aboriginal education thrive in safe environments

      4. Aboriginal Education must be supported at all levels and prioritized by establishing internal and external partnerships

      Some of the many other recommendations:

      • sustained funding is needed
      • Aboriginal teachers need to be recruited
      • Student well-being should be the center of educational approaches
      • Aboriginal history and culture, including the history of colonialism, should be taught at multiple points in curriculum
      • Board must require all principals to participate in decolonizing and indigenizing professional development
      • Board must require all departments to demonstrate a plan for integrating Aboriginal Education

      ———– Decolonizing our Schools is as powerful an educational research report as one will ever read. The authors pull no punches and directly challenge the stereotypes and misguided thinking of those who declare that Indigenous education should be compartmentalized or marginalized because Aboriginals are a minority in their classrooms/schools. This report reminds us that were all the products of a colonial legacy that has ravaged Indigenous practices.  In many ways, the report is a refreshing departure from the non-committal babble that emanates from school district research departments.  Of course, it has to be…the topic is simply too significant for any lesser approach.

      invert media – it’s the angle

      invert media is an Aboriginal internet and video production company that focuses on archiving and communicating traditional Aboriginal teachings in an Indigeneous framework.  The company attempts to collaborate in ways that respect cultural and community sources.  Like many other production companies, invert media tries to work closely with First Nations communities to respect the cultural protocols that exist in each community.

      “We believe indigenous knowledge is essential in addressing urgent matters in the world today” – this is the mission statement posted as an introduction on the company website.  In their work, the company’s two principal directors, Jennifer Wemigwans and Doug Anderson, claim that they respectfully to translate and apply indigenous knowledge frameworks, without compromising them.

      Of interest, is the company’s intent to research thoughtfully and remain authentic to traditional Indigenous teachings.

      The company’s two major projects are:

      The Full Circle Project: a cultural learning Framework for Toronto Aboriginal Youth

      Intro: “Aboriginal languages and cultures are threatened everywhere, especially in the city. The rapid pace of cultural loss is not being addressed fast enough to ensure survival of indigenous knowledge among urban aboriginal youth.”

      Four Directions Teachings

      Four Directions.com is a narrated series of animations that passes on some of the teachings and philosophy of five First Nations groups in Canada: Blackfoot, Cree, Ojibwe, Mohawk, Mi ‘kqmak

      Each series of teachings is delivered by an Elder and provides a fairly rich multi-media introduction to each culture.  I am not expert on any of the tribes that were researched as part of Four Directions Teachings.com, but I think that this project may be bogged down by its ambitious scope.  In reviewing the teachings, it’s evident that the lessons being discussed by the Elders are simply an introduction to each culture.  There is no significant depth to the discussions and some sensitive subjects are deliberately not addressed in the online teachings.  For Wemigwans and Anderson to have carefully researched each culture (as they claim to have) would have take extensive resources which appear not to have been available to this private production crew.  In this light, while the media productions on the five tribes are interesting and somewhat useful, they certainly have limitations.

      UBC Office of Research Ethics

      Like any post-secondary institution conducting research, UBC has a department or an office that provides information and guidance about research ethics. At UBC it is the Office of Research Ethics. Knowledge about research ethics is particularly important while planning for research that involves human subjects. The UBC ethical standards align with Canada’s national guideline on ethical research called: Tri-Council Policy Statement on Ethical Research Involving Humans.

      Research involving human subjects at UBC must follow Policy #89 which mandates research must be approved and overseen by a sanctioned Research Ethics Board. UBC has several Research Ethics Boards, and it appears that research with indigenous people or indigenous communities would fall under the UBC Behavioural REB.

      This site also provides links to answer the following questions:

      UBC Aboriginal Portal

      UBC has an Aboriginal Portal that provides information about anything Aboriginal at UBC. The landing page has a welcome video from Larry Grant, Musqueam Elder, Resident Elder at UBC First Nations House of learning and Adjunct Professor in the First Nations Language program. Of particular interest to module three, are the research pages. This includes current faculty, student and community research projects. The site also has access to the Xwi7xwa Library; the only dedicated Aboriginal branch of a university library in Canada.

      The faculty pages include Bios of all UBC Aboriginal Faculty members including Michael Marker in the Faculty of Education. Hey Michael, you don’t have your picture posted.

      Library & Archives Canada

      Library and Archives Canada has a searchable database of historical government and private works, both published and non-published, for you to explore. Looking at the “archives” section will bring up photos and and documents often viewable online. The institution was brought together through federal legislation in 2004, tying together the National Library of Canada and the National Archives of Canada. They are mandated to provide a wealth of information and memory accessible to all Canadians. As one would expect, their collection is broad and could be of interest to many avenues of research. They do have a specific section on Aboriginal Peoples including databases, research aids, and virtual exhibitions.

      "MIKAN 3200866: Man with boy (probably Allakariallak/Nanook and Phillipoosie)"

      Center for World Indigenous Knowledge and Research

      Center for World Indigenous Knowledge and Research

      This website is housed and maintained by Athabasca University. The Center for World Indigenous Knowledge and Research has the following goals:

      • Meet academic needs of Indigenous students, scholars, nations, communities, institutions and organizations
      • Improve the development and delivery of Indigenous Education at Athabasca University
      • Strengthen the research undertaken for, by and about First Nation Metis and Inuit People at Athabasca University
      • Acknowledge and develop the role of traditional knowledge in academic settings
      • Support, protect and preserve Indigenous Knowledge, Education and oral traditions

      Athabasca University is Canada’s open University offering over 700 online courses and 90 degrees, diplomas and certificate programs with flexible start times.

      The Center for World Indigenous Knowledge and Research provides a support and resource network for indigenous students taking Athabasca University courses and programs in their homes, communities or Nations.

      Module 1: The Increasingly Mediated Experience of Web Browsing

      Bowers, Vasquez and Roaf (2000) cite Don Ihde’s three fundamental experiences of technology: as a background relationship, as an physical interaction, and as a mediated experience that amplifies certain individual or cultural experiences while reducing others. In this TEDTalks video, Eli Pariser elaborates on how the experience of web browsing is becoming less of a community reality and more of an individualized experience, mediated in the background by internet conglomerates with little to no input from the individual.

      [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8ofWFx525s&feature=channel_video_title[/youtube]

      With the identification of this “filter bubble,” internet consumers of all types, including academic researchers and grassroots activists, must be conscious to actively search out information and angles that may be otherwise buried due to their personal/digital profile. In our journeys as”cyber-travellers,” the road on the information superhighway that we choose could potentially preclude information superhighway off-ramps reflecting information that does not flow in the same direction we have been looking. If Pariser’s “Filter Bubble” is an accurate representation of web browsing experience, a series of web searches on one topic could conceivable reduce the number of search results we find that provide an opposing or challenging view.

      In the similar vein, if the web browsing preferences and interests of Aboriginal activists or community members flow in opposing directions, people who may be united in a commonly defined goal may find vastly opposing (or totally irrelevant) online resources unless certain links are consciously looked for or provided by friends, family or colleagues. The algorithm that regulates an invisible shift of information flow on the internet could prevent community connectedness necessary for tribal nations to promote individual or common causes. When Bowers, Vasquez and Roaf stated eleven years ago that the spoken word could not be recovered with the same accuracy of the printed word, how could they predict that the digitally printed word could become more insidiously fluid than the spoken word?