Exploring what success means from the perspectives of Aboriginal Elders, parents and educators in Aklavik, Northwest Territories

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region, Gwich'in Settlement Area

Tags: social sciences, education, storytelling

Principal Investigator: Watson, Meghan (1)
Licence Number: 15835
Organization: University of Calgary
Licenced Year(s): 2016
Issued: Feb 09, 2016
Project Team: Yvonne Poitras Pratt (Co-Supervisor, University of Calgary)

Objective(s): To investigate how Aboriginal Elders, parents and educators define ‘success’ for Aboriginal youth residing in Aklavik, Northwest Territories.

Project Description: The research question is: “How do Aboriginal Elders, parents and educators define ‘success’ for Aboriginal youth residing in Aklavik, Northwest Territories?” The Principal Investigator (PI) will consider how these visions of success align with (or depart from) the Inuit Holistic Lifelong Learning Model presented by the Canadian Council on Learning (2007). The research question will be answered by way of semi-structured interviews, with conversations and storytelling encouraged, to help identify themes in defining success for this population. Specific dates, times and locations of each interview will be arranged prior to arrival in Aklavik. Interview sessions will be approximately one hour in length and will be audio-recorded in addition to interview notes to ensure accuracy of representation.

The Aklavik District Education Authority (DEA) will select 12 participants (4 members from each group; Elders, parents, educators) to participate in one hour, semi-structured interviews (audio recorded) with the primary researcher in a location selected by the participant. This study will incorporate a phenomenological approach using qualitative methods. Qualitative research has been identified as an appropriate method when researchers want to empower individuals to share their stories, hear their voices and minimize the power relationships that often exist between a researcher and the participants in the study. Specifically, a phenomenological approach was chosen to capture participant’s beliefs about success in Aboriginal education, the phenomena of this research. This approach will guide the researcher in capturing the voices, stories and lived experiences within the educational system in the Northwest Territories from a community perspective. Transcripts will be analyzed using Atlas.ti software.

There will be many opportunities for local school involvement as well as community involvement and outreach within this research project. As the principal researcher, the primary goal is to communicate with Elders, parents and educators to develop a rich understanding of current perspective educational success in the specified community.

As a starting point in formulating the current research project, a collaborative decision was made between the PI and the principal of Moose Kerr School to have conversations with local Aboriginal Elders, parents and educators to participate in this work of articulating what success means for the community.

Considering the limited amount of literature in Canada on this topic from a community level, this research has the potential to provide valuable information to the scholarly as well as the school and/or local community. This research project will contribute new knowledge to researchers about current views of success as presented by Aboriginal peoples within a remote region of Canada. This research has the ability to promote change in the current school system with regards to education practices and understanding of success within the school by providing a venue for community voices around this important topic. This research can provide impetus for change both at a local and territorial level as it involves concerned community members who may wish to further advance the results from this study.

The last stage of the analysis will be a refinement and updating of the Inuit Holistic Lifelong learning model for the local community. The results from this project will be used to help shape the Inuit Holistic Lifelong Learning Model to represent the community visions of success for Aklavik. The PI anticipate finding a local artist to create a portrait of the community findings, which can be displayed in a public setting of the community’s choosing. At the beginning of the new 2016-17 school year at a District Education Authority meeting, the principal researcher will be video-conferenced in to the community to present the research findings and discuss the findings from the research. Additionally, completed copies (electronic and printed formats) of the thesis as well as a community report will be made available to the community, Moose Kerr School for further discussion.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from February 5, 2016 to June 30, 2016.