First Nation educators' stories of school experiences: reclaiming resiliency

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West, Colleen Sarah
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This thesis presents the results of a qualitative research study that examined the resilience development with six Anishinabe (Ojibway) women. This study examined from the women’s perspectives, “What meaning(s) do First Nation graduates of secondary or post-secondary education make about risk and/or protective factors that may have affected their success in completing their degree/diploma requirements?” In this research, I closely examined the historical accounts and progressive educational changes of six successful Anishinabe women who attended either the residential, provincial or band operated schools. The narrative/storywork voiced by the women was gathered by one in-depth interview and were analyzed in two parts. First, the Western idea of resilience (Benard, 2004) was examined. Second, the development of resilience utilizing Indigenous narrative/storywork (Archibald, 2008; Thomas, 2008; Wilson, 2008) and the cultural framework of the Medicine Wheel teachings (Bopp, Bopp, Brown, & Lane, 1988; Medicine Wheel Evaluation Framework, 2012) was explored. The findings from this thesis revealed that through protective factors and/or supports of their community, environment, school, and family and restored Indigenous philosophy, maintained culture, language, spirituality and traditional worldviews, a process of resilience emerged and/or was developed and overpowered risk factors, challenges and/or adversities. The amalgamation of findings supports what research suggests that Aboriginal people exist in two worlds, their world and mainstream world (Fitznor, 2005). Co-existance, acceptance, and a balance of both worlds are supports and fundamental keys to resiliency and educational success.
resiliency, anishinabe women, indigenous storywork, medicine wheel framework