Graduate Theses & Dissertations

Hoop Dance Project
This dissertation explores a 2017 elementary school Hoop Dance project that was organized by a white music teacher, and taught by an Indigenous artist in Peterborough, Ontario. It aims to respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action, numbers 10 and 63, which ask the federal government to sufficiently fund legislation that incorporates the following principles: “… developing culturally appropriate curricula” (p. 2), and “building student capacity for intercultural understanding, empathy, and mutual respect” (p. 7). The dissertation asks the question: In what ways will a seven-week Indigenous Hoop Dance Unit, taught by an Indigenous performing artist and facilitated by a white school teacher, contribute to reconciliation in an elementary school classroom in Ontario? I am the teacher in this study and have worked at this elementary school for five years. Throughout the project, I acted as facilitator, participant, and researcher, while Indigenous dancer and instructor Beany John planned and delivered the Hoop Dance content. Theoretically, the dissertation is organized around the Anishinabek seven grandmother/grandfather teachings, as taught by Ojibwe/Odawa educator and author Pamela Toulouse (2011). I believe that these seven traditional teachings are a meaningful basis upon which to build the project, not only because they inform Indigenous knowledge in the arts, but also because frequent reflection and referral to the teachings help remind me to remain connected to the “higher” purpose of the research throughout the project, which is to further the reconciliation process in Canada, and more broadly, to benefit society. Regarding methodology, I use arts based research (Leavy, 2015) and a constructivist grounded theory analysis, which embraces the subjectivity and positionality of the researcher (Creswell, 2012). The overall conclusion of the dissertation is that although the Hoop Dance project did not significantly address issues of Indigenous sovereignty in education nor our shared inherited legacy of colonial harm, it was a constructive step in the reconciliation project, largely due to the contributions of Beany John, whose teaching gently unsettled conventional educational practice at our school. Author Keywords: Arts Education, Hoop Dance, Indigenous Education, Indigenous Peoples, Settler Colonialism, Truth and Reconciliation
Not In Their Classrooms
This dissertation examines the rise of teachers' union militancy in Ontario through a case study of the Federation of Women Teachers' Associations of Ontario (FWTAO) and the Ontario Public School Teachers' Federation (OPSTF) between 1970 and their amalgamation into the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) in 1998. It uses the archival records of the two unions, relevant legislation, media records, personal collections, and interviews to explore how these two professional organizations became politicized, militant labour unions able to engage with the state and the trustees of boards of education. The Introduction situates the public education project within nation building in a capitalist-democracy and outlines the theoretical influences informing the dissertation. Chapter 1 follows the two unions during the 1970s as they developed into labour unions. The 18 December 1973 one-day, province-wide, political strike achieved the right to strike and established a unique labour regime for teachers. Chapter 2 examines the advance of the unions during the 1980s as they developed labour militancy. At the same time, neo-liberalism was ascending and the post-war social accord was coming to an end resulting in attacks on unions and cuts to social programs. How gender affected the elementary teachers' unions between 1970 and 1990 is developed in Chapter 3. The FWTAO campaigned for women's equality on a platform of liberal feminism while the OPSTF followed a unionist path in an effort to convince women teachers to join them. Chapter 4 scrutinizes the effect of neo-liberal ideology on education during the 1990-1995 Bob Rae NDP government and the impact the Social Contract had on teachers. The development of teacher resistance to the neo-liberal state is explored in Chapter 5. Alliances with other labour organizations during the Days of Action campaign culminated in a two-week, province-wide strike in the fall of 1997 against the Mike Harris Conservative government. The Conclusion brings together the findings of the dissertation and suggests future research exploring teacher union strength in the Canadian context. Author Keywords: Federation of Women Teachers' Associations of Ontario; FWTAO, neoliberalism, Ontario Public School Teachers' Federation; OPSTF, teachers' strikes, teachers' unions, women's union

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