Integrating Gwich’in and Inuvialuit perspectives into a community school in the Northwest Territories: a case study

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region, Gwich'in Settlement Area

Tags: social sciences

Principal Investigator: Debassige, Brent (1)
Licence Number: 16287
Organization: Western University
Licensed Year(s): 2018
Issued: Apr 12, 2018
Project Team: Dr. Brent Debassige (Principal Investigator, Western University), Janna Wolki (Research Support Staff, Western University)

Objective(s): To investigate how teachers, staff, and community members are integrating Inuvialuit and Gwich’in issues, perspectives, and languages in one school in the Northwest Territories.

Project Description: The goal of this study is to investigate how teachers, staff, and community members are integrating Inuvialuit and Gwich’in issues, perspectives, and languages in one school in the Northwest Territories. The information gathered from this case study will help to inform and improve professional development opportunities offered in the school. In this basic qualitative study, the research support staff will use case study methodology to examine how teachers, staff and community members are integrating Inuvialuit and Gwich’in issues, perspectives and languages in one school located in the Northwest Territories where the research support staff is currently employed.

The following three questions will guide my research: 1) What professional development opportunities and resources are currently available in the Northwest Territories that specialize in the inclusion of Aboriginal cultures and languages and how are they being used in one school?; 2)What are the challenges for teachers, staff and community members in offering culturally, linguistically and locally relevant learning opportunities in the school and how is the school and board of education responding to those needs?; 3) What are the successes for teachers, staff and community members in offering culturally, linguistically and locally relevant learning opportunities in the school and how can the school and board of education support those accomplishments?

The research support staff will respond to the first question by completing a thorough review of current policies, documents, and resources currently available to members of the school staff. The research support staff will respond to the second and third questions by conducting semi-structured interviews. In addition, the research support staff will use firsthand accounts as both a teacher and participant in the delivery and learning of culturally relevant programming. The semi-structured interviews will include an interview guide that contains both structured and unstructured questions. The unstructured questions will be used to employ a conversational approach with the participants to allow for delving into discussions that are relevant to the overarching research questions. If necessary, up to one follow up interview will be held with participants to clarify information collected during the initial interview. Interviews will be audio-recorded, with the option for study participants to refuse the recording. In the event that the audio-recording is not permitted, the Research Support Staff will take notes during the interview. It is anticipated that each interview may take up to two hours, with a possible follow up interview of up to one hour.

Given that this is a case study with the goal of examining one case in great detail, all members of the school staff will be invited to participate. This includes teaching, administrative, and janitorial staff as they all may have a different view on how well the school is offering culturally, linguistically, and locally relevant programming and what can be done to improve our programs.

Participants will be recruited through a recruitment email outlining details of participation in the study. A follow up email will be sent two weeks after the initial email.

All staff members of the elementary school will be invited to participate in this study to provide input on what is working and where greater supports are needed in offering a culturally relevant educational experience for Gwich'in and Inuvialuit students that is both meaningful and respectful to the local community. The hope is that this project can help provide direction to the education department and schools to improve the capacity to offer these same culturally relevant educational experiences. This case study is focused only on one school and the perceptions of staff members there, although this study may lead to broader research to incorporate input from the community.

The thesis will be shared with the Beaufort Delta Education Council as it pertains directly to education. Copies can also be provided to both the Gwich'in Tribal Council and the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation as both organizations have a vested interest in the education provided in their community and territory. If asked, the research support staff can make a presentation on the findings of the study to the organizations mentioned above.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from April 12, 2018 to November 15, 2018.