Graduate Theses & Dissertations

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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
Exploring Kiki-Inoomgugaewin
This case study contributes to scholarship surrounding the national conversation on Indigenous language sustainability in North America. Much of this scholarship provides insight on structuring language programs and policies for youth, leaving a tremendous research gap regarding sociolinguistic and cultural research with youth. Youth appear disinterested or otherwise set apart in current research from the development of policies and curriculum concerned with heritage languages. Upon closer inspection; however, youth are engaged and using innovative and different tools than previous generations. This exploration is a foundational case study which builds upon research highlighting the nature of Indigenous language loss in the south as a time sensitive phenomenon as the application of cognitive imperialism and colonial tactics within mainstream schools continue to conceal a large scale cultural and linguistic genocide in Canada. Although Indigenous language loss may seem of concern to only small groups of linguists and dialectic communities, it should in fact concern anyone who cares about reconciliation or closing the tremendous gap in accessing equitable education. The preservation of Indigenous languages and knowledge systems should also be of interest to those parties who seek to comprehensively understand the Natural World and whom have a vested interest in the survival of the planet and protection of the enviroment. Because of these realities, the viewpoints and experiences of all concerned parties are essential. It follows then, that the youth perspective is significant. To address this gap, participatory narrative inquiry was used as a theoretical framework to conduct a foundational case study in which detailed consideration was given to exploring the lived narratives of three Anishnaabeg participants to establish the value of Indigenous youth voice in alternative forms of sociolinguistic and culturally sustainable language learning in the 21st century, and, to strengthen the argument that more research is needed in the field of first-person youth studies. The results of this case study will be useful, specifically, to localized communities of Anishnaabe youth with and for whom much of the research was conducted, and, more generally to youth resistance work focused on media and technology in globalized and contemporary language and cultural ecologies. Research outcomes indicated potential directions for future research in different contexts and localities by presenting commonalities within the fields of social and political engagement and their connection to language and new media in youth populations. It is hoped that this initial material pinpointing a research gap in Indigenous youth language studies will be used to investigate future research in this field. Author Keywords: Anishnaabe, Decolonization, Language, Sociolinguistics, Technology, Youth Studies
“I will not use the word reconciliation” – Exploring Settler (Un)Certainty, Indigenous Refusal, and Decolonization through a Life History Project with Jean Koning
This thesis centres on a series of intergenerational life history interviews with and about Jean Koning, a 95-year-old white Settler woman who has engaged in different forms of Indigenous-Settler solidarity work for over fifty years—work that is highly regarded by many Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in southwestern and central Ontario. I bring Jean’s stories and perspectives, many of which stand in stark contrast to dominant discourses of “reconciliation,” into conversation with scholars who examine Indigenous refusal and Settler (un)certainty. Through this, I attempt to better understand how colonial knowledge structures and ways of thinking operate in practise, how these might be resisted, and how this resistance relates to land repatriation. I argue that a commitment to unsettling uncertainty and to meaningful listening may be required by Settlers in a stand against various colonial ways of thinking, such as cognitive imperialism. Author Keywords: Cognitive imperialism, Decolonization, Indigenous-Settler relations, Life history, Reconciliation, Settler uncertainty
Code of Bimadiziwin
Indigenous peoples and organizations have a long history of incorporating cultural knowledge and teachings into program and organizational design and structure. The approach to incorporating cultures into Indigenous organizations is not uniform, nor is the ways that they are understood. This dissertation focuses on Nogojiwanong Friendship Centre, in Peterborough Ontario and their approach to incorporating Indigenous cultures into their organization from 2010-2014. The intention of this dissertation is to build knowledge of Indigenous perspectives of organizational structure, grounded in Anishinabe teachings. The teaching circle, vision- time – feeling –movement, guides my learning process and the structure of the dissertation. In using an Anishinabe framework the importance of relationships and the Anishinabe clan system are foundational to my understanding, and will be discussed at length. The purpose and goal of this research is twofold. First, to show the complexity, intentionality and depth to an Indigenous research process; a process that is often nuanced in the literature. Second, to show how Anishinabe thought can (and does) provide a framework for a service delivery organization, in its governance and program and service delivery. The thesis of this dissertation is that Anishinabe knowledge is not always visible to outsiders, but it was present at Nogojiwanong Friendship Centre in the ways they approached research, governed themselves and delivered programs and services. Key Words: Indigenous Knowledge, Indigenous Governance, Indigenous Research Ethics, Indigenous Research Framework Author Keywords: Indigenous Governance, Indigenous Knowledge, Indigenous Research Ethics, Indigenous Research Framework
MSHKIKENH IKWE NIIN (I am Tutle Woman)
This dissertation offers the dibaajimowin (personal story) of my beading project, which I undertook to understand the enactment of Anishinaabe women’s knowledge in graduate research. Framed through the concept of a collective self, which is embedded within the Anishinaabe traditions of storytelling and beading, and drawing further from the aesthetics, processes, and teachings of these traditions so that I proceed in a good way, I am able to tell a story that is wholly Anishinaabe. Through the symbolic literacy present within the pieces of beadwork entitled:”Turtle Woman,” “Turtle Woman Meets Grandmother Moon,” “Turtle Woman Marries a Beaver,” and “Turtle Woman Slays the Big Fish,” which I present in the second half of this story, I explore the relationship among Anishinaabe women’s knowledges, self, identity, power relations, allyship, sovereignty and good governance in graduate research. I conclude that if graduate research is framed as an extension of an Anishinaabe space, an ethics of responsibility emerges, setting the stage for graduate research that is rooted in responsibility, contributing to efforts of Anishinaabe sovereignty and community wellness. Overall through my conclusion, as well as the process that I employ, I make contributions in the areas of Indigenous thought, Indigenous methodologies, Indigenous governance, feminism, critical theory, pedagogy, and ally theory. Author Keywords: Anishinaabe, beadwork, Indigenous knowledge, Indigenous methodology, Indigenous women, sovereignty
Environmental Health Management Practices in Indigenous Communities
Environmental factors play a critical role in the health and well-being of people worldwide and the distribution of the burden of disease associated with environmental causes is disproportionately high in marginalized populations, including First Nations. In this way, environmental health problems are as much social and political problems as environmental and must be addressed as such. In Canada, the division of responsibilities for environmental health, in combination with the jurisdictional complexities of health and environment regulation and service provision on-reserve creates a First Nations environmental health management system with significant gaps. This research set out to explore the question: What are the current strengths and challenges in First Nations environmental health policy and management? A qualitative exploratory design organized in two stages and employing key informant interviews, document review and a community case study was used to examine this topic. In the first stage a review of existing programs and policies applicable to Ontario First Nations and a series of interviews with key experts on the topic in the province were conducted. A conceptual framework of the core elements affecting environmental health management in First Nations communities was developed and then applied to a case study with Mississauga First Nation in Northern Ontario. The framework included five core elements: Environmental Health Jurisdiction and Responsibility; Participation in Environmental Health Decision-Making; Access to Environmental Health Resources, Communication of Environmental Health Information; and, Role and Influence of Leadership. The findings indicate that "internal" issues, like community-based decision-making and support for environmental health initiatives seem to be least affected by the "external" issues such as access to federal funding. The "internal" issues were also shown to be critically important factors having impacts on environmental health management practices and policies in Mississauga First Nation. While there are countless barriers associated with the "external" factors that have significant impacts on environmental health management practices and policies, this research suggest that the "internal" factors can potentially be the most important factors in creating positive change in this area and as a result warrant further study in order to improve the state of environmental health issues in First Nations. Author Keywords: Community, Environmental Health, First Nations, Framework, Policy
Sacred Space, Ancestors, and Authority
The Middle Formative Period (1000 – 400 B.C.) has increasing become recognized as a critical locus in the development of Lowland Maya socio-political complexity. This period witnessed the founding of numerous ceremonial centers, substantial material cultural innovation, and the advent of mortuary practices indicating developing social differentiation. Recent excavations at the site of Ka’Kabish in Northern Belize have uncovered evidence significantly strengthening this view. Excavations underlying Plaza D-South at Ka’Kabish have revealed a series of bedrock-hewn pits containing offering caches of thousands of shell beads, forty-seven greenstone objects, and extensive ceramic evidence indicating communal ritual and feasting, which is argued by the author to represent a cosmographic diorama of the cave-riddled Underworld. Significantly, this elaborate cosmographic offering event appears to center on the secondary, bundled bedrock-cist burial of an important personage and/or ancestor who is accompanied by a number of finely crafted jade ornaments representing motifs and forms that have previously been interpreted as symbols of authority, rulership, and divine kingship. Comparable contemporary evidence from Northern Belize and beyond has been interpreted through models foregrounding site-founding, place-making, ancestor veneration, and aggrandizer driven social differentiation. By integrating and contrasting these existing models with new evidence from Ka’Kabish, this thesis argues that the mortuary, caching, and architectural practices evidenced at Middle Formative Ka’Kabish represent a glimpse into the incipience of the ideological complex, the socio-cultural processes, and the material manifestations propagating the development of subsequent Maya socio-political complexity, specifically the institution of divine kingship or ch’uhul ahau. Author Keywords: ancestor veneration, ancient Maya, greenstone cache, Ka’Kabish, Belize, Middle Formative, socio-political complexity
Hiya 'aa ma pichas 'ope ma hammako he ma pap'oyyisko (Let Us Understand Again our Grandmothers and our Grandfathers)
The Tamalko (Coast Miwok) North Central California Indigenous people have lived in their homelands since their beginnings. California Indigenous people have suffered violent and uncompromising colonial assaults since European contact began in the 16th century. However, many contemporary Indigenous Californians are thriving today as they reclaim their Native American sovereign rights, cultural renewal, and well-being. Culture Bearers are working diligently as advocates and teachers to re-cultivate Indigenous consciousness and knowledge systems. The Tamalko author offers Indigenous perspectives for hinak towis hennak (to make a good a life) through an ethno-autobiographical account based on narratives by Culture Bearers from four Indigenous North Central California Penutian-speaking communities and the author’s personal experiences. A Tamalko view of finding and speaking truth hinti wuskin ʼona (what the heart says) has been the foundational principle of the research method used to illuminate and illustrate Indigenous North Central California consciousness. Author Keywords: Consciousness, Culture Bearers, Indigenous, North Central California, Penutian, re-cultivation
Colonialism, Capitalism, and the Rise of State Schooling in British Columbia, 1849-1900
This dissertation examines the historical relationship between settler colonialism, capitalism, and the rise of state schooling in what is now known as British Columbia between 1849 and 1900. It aims to “unsettle” conventional views of Canadian schooling history by bringing accounts of Indigenous and non-Indigenous education into one analytical frame, and it shows how the state used different forms of schooling for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous children—company, common, public, mission, day, boarding, and industrial schools—to assist colonial-capitalist social formation in the Pacific Northwest. In combining interdisciplinary insights from Indigenous studies, historical materialism, political economy, and critical pedagogy, the dissertation highlights the ways in which state-supported schooling facilitated capitalist accumulation by colonial dispossession. The central argument of the dissertation is that between 1849 and 1900, colonial, provincial, and federal governments strategically took on greater responsibility for schooling as a way of legitimizing the state and supporting the emergence of a capitalist settler society. Author Keywords: Capitalism, Education, Indian Residential Schools, Indigenous Peoples, Settler Colonialism, Violence
Re-Living the Residential School Experience
The residential school legacy is one of the darkest chapters in Canadian history. From the mid-1850s to 1996, thousands of Aboriginal children were taken from their homelands and placed in residential schools. Taken against their will, many dreaded attending these schools. Some attended for as long as ten to fifteen years, only to be strangers in their own communities upon their return. In the past thirty years, survivors began disclosing the loneliness, confusion, fear, punishment and humiliation they suffered within these institutions, and also reported traumatic incidents of sexual, physical or emotional abuse. These childhood traumas still haunt them today. This dissertation examines the four compensation processes (Litigation, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Independent Assessment Process and the Common Experience Process) used by survivors to determine whether the compensation payments made to them assisted in reconciliation of their residential school experience. To complete an analysis of the processes, twenty-four residential school survivors from Ontario, Manitoba and British Columbia were interviewed about their experiences with one or more of the compensation processes. The study begins with a historical overview of the residential school legacy and continues with the residential school healing movement that initiated and finalized a negotiated settlement agreement for all living survivors. This dissertation provides a unique perspective to the residential school legacy by using a cultural framework, Anishinabe teachings and concepts to share the voices of residential school survivors. The pivotal Anishinabe teaching within this study comes from The Seventh Fire Prophecy. This prophecy states that: “If the New People will remain strong in their quest, the Waterdrum of the Midewiwin Lodge will again sound its voice.” In this dissertation the residential school survivors are the New People. As the dissertation unfolds the author utilizes various Anishinabe concepts to illustrate how the compensation processes failed to assist the New People to reconcile with their residential school experience. This study presents a medicine wheel understanding of reconciliation and the Residential School Legacy. It concludes with an important message to the second and third generation survivors to continue the reconciliatory efforts that the New People introduced. It is crucial that the children and grandchildren of the New People begin the reconciliation process not only for themselves but for the next seven generations. Author Keywords: Anishinabe, compensation, Indian residential schools, reconciliation, survivors
Energy Resilience in Northern Communities
This project examines the factors for success of alternative energy initiatives in remote northern Indigenous communities, and the link between northern community energy and resilience. The case study, in the Gwich’in village of Fort McPherson, Northwest Territories, focuses upon a biomass boiler district heating project that provides renewable heat fuelled by local wood chips, and the willow harvesting initiative that supports it. Data was collected by interviews and participant observation in Fort McPherson and Yellowknife, and by analysis of resilience, community energy, and biomass literature. Success factors identified include the importance of aligning energy systems with local cultural identity, traditional values and connection to landscape, values often under-represented in financially-driven energy decisions. Autonomy and self-reliance are shown to be critical factors in northern community energy decisions, related to well-being, pride in place and enhanced resilience. Community resilience is revealed as a key component of northern community energy success. Author Keywords: Energy, Indigenous, Northern, Renewable, Resilience, Sustainable
Gaagnig Pane Chiyaayong: Forever, We Will Remain, Reflections and Memories
ABSTRACT Gaagnig Pane Chiyaayong: Forever, We Will Remain Reflections and Memories: `Resiliency' Concerning the Walpole Island Residential School Survivors Group Theresa Turmel From 1830 to 1996, Canada pursued a policy of removing Indigenous children from their families and educating them in residential schools. In coming to terms with the harsh and abusive treatment they endured, many survivors from residential schools have formed organizations to support each other and to make their experiences known. This project is a result of a participatory, community-based partnership with one such group in southwestern Ontario, the Walpole Island Residential School Survivors Group (WIRSSG), many of whom attended Shingwauk Indian Residential School. Like most of the survivors of the WIRSSG, I am Anishinaabe but did not attend residential school. The survivors invited me to deeply listen to their life experiences in order to learn about their resiliency. Guided by traditional Anishinaabe teachings and using an Anishinaabe methodology, I interviewed thirteen survivors and considered their life stories within the context of the traditional Anishinaabe life cycle. In their descriptions of resiliency, what became clear to me was that they were describing life force energy. This life force energy is innate and holistic, and can be found within each of us. It manifests within all of our relations: land, animals, plants, ancestors and other people. The life force energy cannot be extinguished but can be severely dampened as was evident in the attempt to assimilate residential school students. From their accounts, we learn that students found ways to nurture their life force energy through relationships and acts of resistance. As they have continued on their life path, they have reclaimed their spirit and today, they are telling their stories and keeping this history alive for the benefit of future generations. Key words: Anishinaabe; Anishinaabe Mino-bimaadiziwin; Residential Schools; Aboriginal Residential School survivors; Indian Residential Schools; Indian Residential School survivors; life force energy; resilience; resiliency; resiliency theory; Walpole Island Residential School Survivors Group; Shingwauk; Shingwauk Indian Residential School Author Keywords: life force energy, residential school survivors, resiliency

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Format: 2020/11/28