Graduate Theses & Dissertations

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Barriers and Facilitators to Indigenous Knowledge Incorporation in Policy Making
The inclusion and application of Indigenous Knowledge (IK) has become a central and often demanded element of policy making involving Indigenous peoples. However, there are very few examples that exist in the literature and elsewhere that show how IK can be effectively integrated into decisions, policies, and programs. In response to these challenges, this research explored what processes are used to incorporate IK into policy and their effectiveness through the development of a framework that sought to identify critical factors related to IK inclusion. The framework was then applied to evaluate IK incorporation opportunities in the Nunatsiavut case, focusing on the development of the Nunatsiavut Government's Environmental Protection Act. The case study analysis was used to test and provide adaptations to the initial framework. This research identifies the importance of governance structures and processes, community participation and engagement approaches, and IK research and support programming in enhancing opportunities for IK to be integrated and reflected in policy outcomes. The Nunatsiavut case largely supported, but in some cases challenged critical factors of IK incorporation identified in the framework. The findings of this study are valuable for policy and decision makers (both Indigenous and non-Indigenous) regarding approaches and programs that can assist and support IK inclusion into policy processes and decisions. Author Keywords: environmental assessment, Indigenous Knowledge, Inuit Knowledge, Nunatsiavut, policy, self-government
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
“It's like getting a new car without the manual”
This study explored teacher infusion of Indigenous curriculum content through interviews with ten non-Indigenous teachers of social studies and history. The interviews centered on teacher perceptions of preparedness to implement Ontario’s recent TRC curriculum revisions, which include more about the contributions, histories, cultures, and perspectives of Indigenous peoples. A brief analysis of Ontario’s First Nation, Métis, and Inuit Education Policy Framework is included, alongside critiques of the Eurocentrism at the heart of education systems. The interviews revealed that many of the teachers were committed to Indigenous education and learning more, but they felt unprepared and lacked resources to teach Indigenous curriculum content with confidence. This study highlighted the critical role of settler teachers in Indigenous education and the importance of teachers undertaking settler unsettling in order to be effective and appropriate in Indigenous curriculum delivery. Individual changes must occur alongside educational system decolonization with a particular focus on teacher preparation. Author Keywords: cognitive imperialism, Indigenous Education, Ontario, settler educator, settler unsettling, TRC curriculum
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
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
Exploring Indigenous Contributions to (Indigenization of) the City of Saskatoon's 2012-2022 Strategic Plan
The self-determining autonomy of urban Aboriginal communities in Canada's Prairie Provinces can be strengthened at the local scale through decolonized municipal governance frameworks. The City of Saskatoon's Strategic Plan 2012-2022 is highlighted to explore two interrelated questions: do Saskatoon's Aboriginal engagement strategies represent a co-produced or indigenized mainstream planning and policy-making process? Does the potential indigenization of municipal planning and policy-making represent a promising pathway to facilitate local decolonization through collaborative municipal-Aboriginal governance in Saskatoon? Results from qualitative interviews reveal that the City of Saskatoon's distinctive Aboriginal engagement strategies were not entirely meaningful for participants, though the planning process included elements that, if expanded upon, could deepen co-production. Indigenization through co-production necessitates a thorough integration of Aboriginal community input at every stage of a planning and policy-making process, shared control and decision-making mechanisms between municipal governments and Aboriginal communities, and ancillary considerations for increased Aboriginal representation and participation in the administrative and political functions of City Hall. Author Keywords: aboriginal governance, decolonization, indigenization, policy co-production, self-determination, strategic municipal planning
gi-mi-ni-go-wi-ni-nan o-gi-ma-wi-win zhigo o-gi-ma-win (The gifts of traditional leadership and governance)
ni' o-nah-ko-nah ah-di-so-kah-nahg zhigo di-bah-ji-mo-wi-nan g'dah mi-kwe-ni-mah-nahn obwandiacbun (nigig), tecumthabun (mizhibizhi), miinwaa shingwaukbun (ah-ji-jawk) (I ceremonially call upon the stories, the sacred and spiritual narratives and stories of personal experience... In the spirit of obwandiac, tecumtha and shingwauk) gi-mi-ni-go-wi-ni-nan o-gi-ma-wi-win zhigo o-gi-ma-win (The gifts of traditional leadership and traditional governance) explores anishinabe o-gi-ma-wi-win (traditional leadership and to be esteemed) from the point of view of obwandiac (nigig) in 1763, tecumtha (mizhibizhi) and shingwauk (ah-ji-hawk) in 1812 and 1850 respectively. It also examines the political and social significance of anishinabe o-gi-ma-win (traditional governance) and the n'swi-ish-ko-day-kawn anishinabeg o'dish-ko-day-kawn (Three Fires Confederacy) during the time of these esteemed leaders. The use of our ah-di-so-kah-nahg (sacred and spiritual stories), di-bah-ji-mo-wi-nan (stories of personal experience and reminiscences) and ah-way-chi-gay-wi-nan (moral stories) provides the opportunity to show how anishinabe people used different narratives to ah-way-chi-gay-win (teach by telling stories). In listening to these personal and intimate stories we have an opportunity to understand and explore these concepts of o-gi-ma-wi-win (traditional leadership and to be esteemed) and o-gi-ma-win (traditional governance). The first layer to this distinct way of knowing embodies anishinabe nah-nah-gah-dah-wayn-ji-gay-win (how we come to think this way about our reality and epistemology) and is expressed to us within our gah-wi-zi-maw-ji-say-muh-guhk (creation and stories of origin) and miskew ah-zha-way-chi-win (blood memory and the act of flowing). It states explicitly that we have always known where we came from, who we are, and how we fit into this world. anishinabe i-nah-di-zi-win (our way of being and way of life and ontology) lends voice to the second layer of anishinabe kayn-daw-so-win (traditional knowledge), which defines the responsibilities and expectations of anishinabe society, leadership and governance. Our ni-zhwa-sho gi-ki-nah-mah-gay-wi-nan (seven teachings), ni-zhwa-sho o-na-sho-way-wi-nan (seven sacred laws) and the relationship of the do-daim-mahg (clan system) are described within anishinabemowin, the language of our ceremonies and of the jeeskahn (shake tent). Harry Bone (2011)1, an elder from Keeseekoowenin First Nation suggests that ah-zhi-kay-ni-mo-nahd-a-di-sid bay-mah-di-sid (how we use our way of doing, thinking, ceremony and spirituality to find answers and methodology) represents a third layer that provides us with the ways and means to help us understand the essence of anishinabe nah-nah-gah-dah-wayn-ji-gay-win (how we come to think this way about our reality and epistemology and i-nah-di-zi-win (our way of being and way of life and ontology). This represents the literal and metaphoric o-dah-bah-ji-gahn (sacred bundle) and traditional approach that provides this narrative with the means to explore the ideas of leadership and governance from within a traditional construct. He adds that our spirituality and manitou kay-wi-nan (ceremonies) will be clearly defined and shared within this o-dah-bah-ji-ji-gahn (sacred bundle). It helps establish the spiritual core for this narrative. These anishinabe approaches to methodology (intimate conversations, family history and ceremony) are used to tell a story that mirrors the academic construct of interviews and document analysis. Therefore, the o-dah-bah-ji-gahn (sacred bundle) provides the nay-nahn-do-jee-kayn-chi-gayd (to dig around and research) tools to have this discussion exploring the traditional construct of anishinabe o-gi-ma-wi-win (traditional leadership and to be esteemed) and o-gi-ma-win (traditional governance). Lastly, it is important to understand that this traditional approach shows how these narratives are in-and-of-themselves powerful strategies in understanding anishinabe ah-yah-win (way of being and existence) and gah-gi-bi-i-zhi-say-mah-guhk (history). mii i'i-way anishinabe i-zhi-chi-gay-win (This is the anishinabe way) zhigo mii'iw eta-go o-way neen-gi-kayn-dahn zhigo ni-gi-noon-dah-wah (This is as much as I know and have heard) 1 Bone, Harry (Personal Communication) 2011. Author Keywords:
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
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
“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
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
Sinaakssin (writing/picture)
Assimilative policies limit and disrupt the inclusion of Aboriginal values in most Aboriginal services today. This art-based, qualitative research study approaches that issue, and using symbolism and story a sample scenario was created to demonstrate the impact of assimilative policy on Aboriginal service delivery in a storyboard format. The storyboard was then presented to four traditional thinkers who contemplated the issues therein, and as they deconstructed, considered, and conferred they resolved the matter and produced four distinct models. Imagery is relied on as a traditional means of communication to capture and convey the research issue as a painted story. This research tested the viability of using imagery as a storyboard methodology for solving social issues. By using this approach this dissertation sought to answer the question, does Indigenous knowledge have the power to change the systemic structures that surround our services. For the analysis, did the three Indigenous knowledge paradigms effectively assist in determining the nature of the Indigenous knowledge applied? Author Keywords: collective community subjectivity, Indigenous methodology, paradigms, story, symbolic communication, symbolic representation

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Format: 2021/06/12