Exploring the impact of a culturally restorative post-secondary education program on Aboriginal adult learners: The Urban Circle Training Centre model

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Koshyk, Jamie
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The educational attainment gap between Canada’s Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples both reflects and perpetuates a parallel disparity in socioeconomic conditions. Aboriginal peoples’ distrust of and disengagement from educational systems can be linked to the history of their relationship with the settler state. Therefore, decolonizing education may be one way to address the education gap. This qualitative study of ten Aboriginal graduates from one of Urban Circle’s post-secondary programs explored graduates’ perceptions of the integration of Aboriginal cultural context and content in their program and the effect of these experiences on program completion. Responses revealed five main themes: 1) the cultural context of Urban Circle restored Aboriginal identity; 2) supportive relationships were important to graduates’ success in the FSW/FASD program; 3) the Life Skills course facilitated personal growth, employment readiness and program success; 4) the cultural context of Urban Circle has influenced graduates’ professional work; and 5) Urban Circle had positive influences on graduates’ personal lives. The findings indicate that the cultural content and context at Urban Circle positively impacted student’s educational experience and contributed to their completion of their program.
Aboriginal, education, culture, post-secondary