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Creating a sense of belonging for Indigenous students in British Columbia? Larson, Colleen Edith 2017

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CREATING A SENSE OF BELONGING FOR INDIGENOUS STUDENTS IN BRITISH COLUMBIA?      by  Colleen Edith Larson  B.Ed., The University of British Columbia, 1976 M.A., Simon Fraser University, 1993        A THESIS SUBMITED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQURIEMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF   DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY  in  THE COLLEGE OF GRADUATE STUDIES  (Interdisciplinary Studies)       THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA  (Okanagan)   May 2017   © Colleen Edith Larson, 2017    ii Supervisory Committee  The undersigned certify that they have read, and recommend to the College of Graduate Studies for acceptance, a thesis entitled:    Creating a Sense of Belonging for Indigenous Students in British Columbia?   Submitted by      Colleen Edith Larson                          in partial fulfillment of the requirements of   The degree of   Doctor of Philosophy                                                               Dr. Christine Schreyer, Irving K. Barber School of Arts Sciences  Supervisor, Associate Professor   Dr. Margo Tamez, Irving K. Barber School of Arts Sciences  Supervisory Committee Member, Assistant Professor   Dr. Sabre Cherkowski, Faculty of Education  Supervisory Committee Member, Associate Professor   Dr. Daisy Rosenblum, Department of Anthropology, UBC Vancouver  University Examiner, Assistant Professor   Dr. Evelyn Steinhauer, Facutly of Education, University of Alberta  University Examiner, Associate Professor    April 28, 2017 (Date submitted to Grad Studies)        iii Abstract  This dissertation tells the story of partnership between myself, a doctoral student at UBC Okanagan, the Taku River Tlingit First Nation (TRTFN) and School District 87 (Stikine). Although the research is a partial fulfillment for my doctoral degree, I have attempted to emphasize the partnership aspects of the process throughout the writing of this document. I have been challenged to find ways to word sentences without using the phrase, my research. This was important to me because the first goal of this research is to decolonize research about Indigenous peoples by partnering with the Indigenous people. With regards to the second goal, Indigenous peoples worldwide and Aboriginal peoples in Canada advocate for changes to education for Indigenous students that will nurture Indigenous identity while preparing students and Indigenous communities for a prosperous future. This research supports initiatives to changes education for Indigenous students by sharing information from Indigenous students, parents, and community members about the ways in which Indigenous culture and language in schools can enhance sense of belonging and achievement. The aim of this research is to bridge the gap between European and Indigenous approaches to education through these two goals. To accomplish this, the research follows a Métis methodology based upon principles from Indigenous methodologies, appreciative inquiry, and grounded theory.  The results of our research indicate that the children of TRTFN enjoy school, but have challenges to overcome for attendance in school and for access to secondary education. Students in Atlin have a strong sense of belonging to the land, to ancestors, to family, and to community. Students and their families and teachers believe that learning Tlingit culture and language is important to pass knowledge on to future generations. Students enjoy making choices about what they will learn and having opportunities for leadership. Finally, learning Indigenous culture and knowledge benefits all students. This is, of course, my dissertation. However, the learning that I acquired and the story of the research process are a shared journey with my partners in the research, TRTFN and SD87. It is my research for my dissertation, but our research for the community.    iv Preface  In Chapter 1, the introductions to the Taku River Tlingit First Nation and School District 87 (Stikine) were co-authored. Spokesperson Louise Gordon, TRTFN, co-authored Introduction to Taku River Tlingit First Nation. Superintendent, Mike Gordon, co-authored Introduction to School District 87 (Stikine).  Ethics approval for this research was granted by signed approval from two elected spokespersons (chiefs) for Taku River Tlingit First Nation, Spokesperson John Ward (2012-2015 term) and Spokesperson Louise Gordon (2015-2018 term). As well, two superintendents for School District 87 (Stikine), Superintendent Bryan Ennis and Superintendent Mike Gordon, gave signatures of permission for the research. All research partners and participants signed consent forms. University of British Columbia Okanagan Behaviour Research Ethics Board approved the project (H12-01490).    v Table of Contents Supervisory Committee ....................................................................................................................... ii Abstract .................................................................................................................................................... iii Preface ...................................................................................................................................................... iv List of Tables .......................................................................................................................................... ix List of Figures ........................................................................................................................................... x Acknowledgements ................................................................................................................................ xii Dedication ............................................................................................................................................... xiii Prologue .................................................................................................................................................. xiv Chapter 1 Introduction ........................................................................................................................ 1 Goals for the Research ..................................................................................................................................... 4 Introduction to Myself ..................................................................................................................................... 6 Who am I? ......................................................................................................................................................................... 6 Who are My Ancestors? .............................................................................................................................................. 8 Why am I Doing This Chosen Work? ................................................................................................................... 10 Introduction to Taku River Tlingit First Nation co-authored by Louise Gordon and Colleen Larson ................................................................................................................................................................. 12 Who is the Taku River Tlingit First Nation? ..................................................................................................... 12 Who are the Ancestors of the Taku River Tlingit First Nation? ............................................................... 18 Why is Taku River Tlingit First Nation Partnering in This Research? ................................................... 20 Introduction to School District 87 (Stikine) co-authored by Mike Gordon and Colleen Larson ................................................................................................................................................................. 21 Who is School District 87 (Stikine)? .................................................................................................................... 22 What is the History of Education Services for Students in Atlin? ............................................................ 25 Why is School District 87 (Stikine) Partnering in This Research? .......................................................... 26 The International Context for this Partnership Research ............................................................... 27 The Canadian Context ................................................................................................................................... 33 The Context in British Columbia ............................................................................................................... 41 Summary of the Introduction .................................................................................................................... 46 Chapter 2 The Evolution of a Métis Methodology .................................................................... 48 Decolonizing My Thinking about Education ......................................................................................... 49 Indigenous Worldview, Indigenous Knowledge, Indigenous Epistemologies, and Indigenous Methodologies .......................................................................................................................... 50 Indigenous Worldview .............................................................................................................................................. 52 Indigenous Knowledge and Indigenous Epistemologies ............................................................................ 54 The Interconnections between Indigenous Worldview, Indigenous Methodologies, Indigenous Knowledge, and Indigenous Epistemologies ................................................................................................... 55 Indigenist Research Paradigm .................................................................................................................. 58 Applying Principles of Indigenous Methodologies to Support an Indigenist Research Paradigm ........................................................................................................................................................... 63 Relationships ................................................................................................................................................................. 63 Respect ............................................................................................................................................................................. 65 Community ................................................................................................................................................................ ..... 70 Spirit.................................................................................................................................................................................. 75  vi Renewal ........................................................................................................................................................................... 78 Métis Methodology for Partnership Research ..................................................................................... 80 Summary of The Evolution of a Métis Methodology .......................................................................... 82 Chapter 3 Methods .............................................................................................................................. 84 Phase I (Establishing Partnerships) ........................................................................................................ 84 Prior to My First Visit to Atlin, January 2012-February 2013 .................................................................. 87 Participant Observation in Atlin, March 2-7, 2013 ........................................................................................ 89 Participant Observation in Atlin, July 29-August 4, 2013 ........................................................................... 94 Participant Observation in Atlin, November 11-14, 2013 .......................................................................... 95 Participant Observation in Juneau, Alaska, June 12-14, 2014 .................................................................. 98 Participant Observation in Atlin, March 2-6, 2015 ..................................................................................... 100 Phase II Learning from TRTFN and SD87) .......................................................................................... 104 Interviews and Focus Group Sessions in Atlin, April 27-May 7, 2015................................................ 105 Pole Raising Ceremony in Atlin, June 21-23, 2015 ..................................................................................... 111 Transcribing and Coding the Interviews, June-September, 2015 ........................................................ 112 Sharing the Summaries of Comments from Participants in Atlin, October 18-22 and November 23-27, 2015 ................................................................................................................................................................. 114 Transcribing, Coding, and Sharing, January-May 2016 ............................................................................ 116 Ongoing Partnership, January 2016-The Present ....................................................................................... 117 Chapter 4 Students’ Experiences at School .............................................................................. 119 Best Things about School........................................................................................................................... 121 Students’ Perceptions of the Best Things about School ............................................................................ 122 Parents’ Perceptions of the Best Things about School .............................................................................. 125 Teachers’ Perceptions of the Best Things about School ........................................................................... 128 Reflections about the Best Things about School .......................................................................................... 132 Developing Lifelong Learners .................................................................................................................. 136 Students’ Perceptions of Developing Lifelong Learners .......................................................................... 136 Parents’ Perceptions of Developing Lifelong Learners ............................................................................. 143 Teachers’ Perceptions of Developing Lifelong learners ........................................................................... 147 Reflections about Developing Lifelong Learners ........................................................................................ 153 Students’ Future Plans................................................................................................................................ 158 Students’ Perceptions about Students’ Future Plans ................................................................................. 158 Parents’ and Grandparents’ Perceptions about Students’ Future Plans ............................................ 160 Teachers’ Perceptions about Students’ Future Plans ................................................................................ 164 Reflections about Students’ Future Plans ....................................................................................................... 168 Summary of Students’ Experiences at School .................................................................................... 171 Chapter 5 Students’ Opportunities to Learn Tlingit Culture and Language ................ 173 Opportunities to learn Tlingit Culture ................................................................................................. 174 Students’ Perceptions of Opportunities to Learn Tlingit Culture ......................................................... 174 Parents’ Perceptions of Opportunities to Learn Tlingit Culture ........................................................... 178 Teachers’ Perceptions of Opportunities to Learn Tlingit Culture ........................................................ 182 Reflections about Opportunities to Learn Tlingit Culture ....................................................................... 185 Importance of Learning Tlingit Culture ............................................................................................... 188 Students’ Perceptions of the Importance of Learning Tlingit Culture ................................................ 188 Parents’ Perceptions of the Importance of Learning Tlingit Culture .................................................. 191 Teachers’ Perceptions of the Importance of Learning Tlingit Culture ............................................... 197 Reflections about the Importance of Learning Tlingit Culture .............................................................. 200 Opportunities to Learn Tlingit Language ............................................................................................ 202  vii Students’ Perceptions of Opportunities to Learn Tlingit Language .................................................... 202 Parents’ Perceptions of Opportunities to Learn Tlingit Language ....................................................... 204 Teachers’ Perceptions of Opportunities to Learn Tlingit Language .................................................... 206 Reflections about Opportunities to Learn Tlingit Language .................................................................. 207 Importance of Learning Tlingit Language ........................................................................................... 208 Students’ Perceptions of the Importance of Learning Tlingit Language ........................................... 209 Parents’ Perceptions of the Importance of Learning Tlingit Language.............................................. 210 Teachers’ Perceptions of the Importance of Learning Tlingit Language ........................................... 211 Reflections about the Importance of Learning Tlingit Language ......................................................... 211 Will Opportunities to Learn Tlingit Culture and Language Enhance Student Achievement? ............................................................................................................................................................................. 212 More Opportunities for Tlingit Culture and Language ................................................................... 215 Students’ Perceptions of More Opportunities for Tlingit Culture and Language........................... 215 Parent’s and Grandparents’ Perceptions of More Opportunities for Tlingit Culture and Language ................................................................................................................................................................ ...... 217 Teachers’ Perceptions of More Opportunities for Tlingit Culture and Language .......................... 223 Reflections about More Opportunities to Learn Tlingit Culture and Language ............................. 224 Summary of Students’ Opportunities to Learn Tlingit Culture and Language ....................... 227 Chapter 6 Students’ Relationships with Others ..................................................................... 228 Friendships ..................................................................................................................................................... 229 Students’ Perceptions of Friendships with Peers ....................................................................................... 229 Parents’ Perceptions of Students’ Friendships between Peers ............................................................. 231 Teachers’ Perceptions of Students’ Friendships with Peers .................................................................. 232 Reflections about Friendships with Peers...................................................................................................... 233 Activities with Friends ............................................................................................................................... 234 Students’ Perceptions of Activities with Friends ........................................................................................ 234 Parents’ Perspectives of Students’ Activities with Friends ..................................................................... 237 Teachers Perspectives of Students’ Activities with Friends ................................................................... 240 Reflections about Students’ Activities with Friends .................................................................................. 240 Relationships with Teachers .................................................................................................................... 241 Students’ Perspectives of Relationships with Teachers ........................................................................... 241 Parents’ Perceptions of Students’ Relationships with Teachers ........................................................... 242 Teachers’ Perceptions of Students’ Relationships with Teachers ........................................................ 243 Reflections about Students’ Relationships with Teachers ...................................................................... 245 Communication between Students, Parents, and Teachers.......................................................... 246 Students’ Perceptions of Communication with Teachers and Parents .............................................. 246 Parents’ Perceptions of Students’ Communication with Teachers ...................................................... 247 Teachers’ Perceptions of Students’ Communication with Teachers ................................................... 249 Reflections about Communication between Students, Parents, and Teachers. .............................. 251 Interactions with Elders ............................................................................................................................ 253 Students’ Perspectives of Interactions with Elders .................................................................................... 253 Parents’ Perspectives of Students’ Interactions with Elders .................................................................. 253 Teachers’ Perspectives of Students’ Interactions with Elders ............................................................... 254 Reflections about Students’ Interactions with Elders ............................................................................... 254 Summary of Students’ Relationships with Others ............................................................................ 255 Chapter 7 Conclusions .................................................................................................................... 257 Contributions to Knowledge .................................................................................................................... 260 About Partnership Research ................................................................................................................................ 260 About Education for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Students ........................................................... 265  viii Integration of This Research with Current Research ...................................................................... 277 With Taku River Tlingit First Nation ................................................................................................................ 278 About Partnership Research ................................................................................................................................ 281 About Education for Indigenous Students ..................................................................................................... 283 My Reflections upon the Strengths and Limitation of Our Project ............................................. 294 Regarding Partnership Research ....................................................................................................................... 294 Regarding Education for Indigenous Students ............................................................................................ 297 Potential Application of the Research Finding .................................................................................. 301 For Partnership Research ..................................................................................................................................... 301 For Education for Indigenous Students........................................................................................................... 302 Possible Future Research Directions .................................................................................................... 303 For Methodologies for Partnership Research ............................................................................................... 304 About Improving Student Attendance and Access to Secondary Education.................................... 304 About Sense of Belonging for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Students ......................................... 305 About Collaboration for Indigenous Culture and Language Revitalization...................................... 306 About Self-determination ...................................................................................................................................... 309 Final Reflections ........................................................................................................................................... 309 Bibliography ....................................................................................................................................... 312 Appendices .......................................................................................................................................... 328 Appendix A: Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action .......................................... 328 Appendix A.1: Education ....................................................................................................................................... 328 Appendix A.3: Education for Reconciliation .................................................................................................. 330 Appendix B:  Goals from a Sampling of Ten Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreements .................................................................................................................................................... 331 Appendix C: Letters of Agreement, Recruitment, and Consent ................................................... 334 Appendix C.1: Letter of Agreement for Research Partners ..................................................................... 334 Appendix C.2: Letter of Recruitment for Research Participants ........................................................... 338 Appendix C.3: Letter of Consent for Parent/Guardian and Student Interviews ............................ 342 Appendix D: Interview Schedules .......................................................................................................... 346 Appendix D.1 Interview Schedule—Students .............................................................................................. 346 Appendix D.2 Interview Schedule—Parents ................................................................................................. 348 Appendix D.3 Interview Schedule—Teachers .............................................................................................. 351 Appendix E: List of Codes ........................................................................................................................... 354     ix List of Tables  Table 3.1 Sample Portion of a Chart of Students’ Comments about  Experiences at School ............................................................................................................... 112  Table 3.2 Chart of Participants in the Project, Creating a Sense of Belonging  for Indigenous Students in British Columbia? ......................................................................... 115  Table 5.1 Opportunities to Learn Tlingit Culture ..................................................................... 184 Table 5.2 The Importance of Learning Tlingit Culture ............................................................. 199 Table 5.3 Opportunities to Learn Tlingit Language ................................................................. 205  Table 5.4 The Importance of Learning Tlingit Language ......................................................... 209  Table 5.5 More Opportunities for Tlingit Culture and Language ............................................ 222    x List of Figures  Figure 1.1 Streets of Atlin with Five Mile Point, Liyaat'i X'áa Jigei, to the South  (Mike Johnson, 2016, Discover Atlin)  ....................................................................................... 14  Figure 1.2 Taku River Tlingit First Nation Welcome Sign on Atlin Road (Larson, 2015) .......... 14  Figure 1.3 Map of School District 87 (Stikine) (SD87, 2016) ..................................................... 22 Figure 2.1 Indigenous Knowledge Production ............................................................................ 55  Figure 2.2 Principles of Indigenous Methodologies ................................................................... 63  Figure 3.1 My First Glimpse of the North out the Plane Window!  (Larson, March 2, 2015) .............................................................................................................. 87  Figure 3.2 Liyaat'i X'áa Jigei (Five Mile Point) (Larson, March 3, 2015) ................................. 87  Figure 3.3 Playing the “Haa shagóon ítx yaa ntoo.aat” Language Game at Culture Camp (Larson, July 31, 2013) ............................................................................................................... 94  Figure 3.4 Students Swimming in Áa Tlein (Atlin Lake) at Culture Camp  (Larson, July 29, 2013) ............................................................................................................... 94  Figure 3.5 “Moosing” Around! (Gordon, November 12, 2013) ................................................. 95  Figure 3.6 Wéinaa Town-site Reserve (Larson, August 2, 2013) ............................................... 95  Figure 3.7 Taku Kwann Dancers at Celebration 2014, Juneau (Larson, June 13, 2014) ........... 97  Figure 3.8 Taku Kwaan Dancers Posing in Juneau  (Larson, June 13, 2014) ............................ 97  Figure 3.9 Herring Roe in Juneau (Larson, June 12, 2014) ........................................................ 98  Figure 3.10 Smoked Salmon Cheeks and Tails (Larson, June 12, 2014) .................................... 98  Figure 3.11 Barbecuing Salmon in Juneau (Michel, June 13, 2014) .......................................... 98  Figure 3.12 Wayne Carlick Saying Gunalchéesh (Thank You) to Our Hosts at the House Party in Juneau (Larson, June 12, 2014) ............................................................... 98  Figure 3.13 Students Walking to Tlingit Family Learning Centre After School Program  (Larson, March 2, 2015) ............................................................................................................ 100  Figure 3.14 Lunch at the Band Office with Elder Jackie Williams  (Tizya, March 4, 2015)       ........................................................................................................ 100  xi  Figure 3.15 Debra Michel and Ali Carlick Teaching Me to Sew the Button Blanket  (Larson, March 5, 2015)  ........................................................................................................... 100  Figure 3.16 Learning How to Sew on the Buttons (Michel, March 5, 2015) ............................ 100  Figure 3.17 Atlin Town on Áa Tlein (Atlin Lake) (Larson, March 6, 2015) .............................. 102  Figure 3.18 Leaving and Looking Back at K’iyán Mountain at (Larson, March 6, 2015) ........ 102  Figure 3.19 Pole Raising Ceremony (Larson, June 22, 2015) .................................................. 110  Figure 3.20 Honouring the Students (Larson, June 22, 2016) .................................................. 110  Figure 3.21 Daybreak Walk with Students (Larson, November 24, 2015) ............................... 113  Figure 3.22 Making Drums at Culture Centre at Liyaat'i X'áa Jigei (Five Mile Point)  (Larson, November 24, 2015) .................................................................................................. 113  Figure 3.23 The Finished Drum! (Carlick, November 24, 2015)     ......................................... 114  Figure 3.24 Luncheon with Grandparents (Fetterly, November 25, 2015) .............................. 114  Figure 4.1 Atlin school (Larson, May 6, 2015) ......................................................................... 121  Figure 4.2 A classroom in Atlin School (Larson, November 24, 2015) .................................... 121  Figure 4.3 Soccer Game (Larson, April 27, 2015)  ................................................................... 122  Figure 4.4 Culture Camp at Five Mile (Larson, July 31, 2015) ................................................ 122  Figure 4.5 Taku Kwaan Dance Practice (Larson, April 28, 2015) ........................................... 122  Figure 4.6 Carving the Totem Pole (Larson, April 28, 2015) ................................................... 122  Figure 4.7 Homework at TFLC After School Program (Larson, March 2, 2015) ..................... 122  Figure 4.8 Homework Club with Vince Esquiro (Larson, April 28, 2015) ............................... 122  Figure 4.9 Heritage Fair in Whitehorse (Larson, May 7, 2015) ............................................... 123  Figure 4.10 Painting Signs to (Re)claim Tlingit Place Names (Larson, May 1, 2015) ............ 123  Figure 7.1 Indigenous Knowledge Production in Our Project ................................................. 259  Figure 7.2 Principles of Indigenous Methodologies in Our Project ......................................... 260  xii Acknowledgements   To members of the Taku River Tlingit First Nation, Gunalchéesh for welcoming me into your community and into your homes. Thank you, too, for your participation in the project and for teaching me about the importance of the land. I have made many new friendships, which I hope will last for many years to come. To Spokesperson Louise Gordon, Gunalchéesh for your passion for our project. The project began because of your enthusiasm for education for the children in Atlin and was successfully completed because of your never-ending support. I look forward to working together in the future in whatever opportunities come our way. To TRTFN Education Manager Tammy Fetterly, Gunalchéesh for your on-going attention to details to make it all happen. Your assistance with lining up meetings, focus groups, and interviews was invaluable. I hope that we will share many pots of soup in the future.  To members of School District 87 (Stikine), thank you for your participation, support, and enthusiasm for our research project. To Superintendent Mike Gordon, thank you for all our conversations about the unique situations in the north and for your inspirational thoughts about ways to support student learning in the Stikine.   To my supervisor, Dr. Christine Schreyer, and members of my supervisory committee, Dr. Margo Tamez and Dr. Sabre Cherkowski, thank you for your guidance. Thank you for asking me questions which I thought were impossible to answer and for giving me the confidence I needed to respond. To Dr. Christine Schreyer, thank you for your exceptional mentoring and for directing me to new learning opportunities.  To my husband, Harry James, thank you for always listening to me in so many venues—at the kitchen table, in the car, on a walk—and for your continual interest from my first visits to Atlin through to the completion of the dissertation.  I wish to acknowledge, as well, the financial support I received from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) for a doctoral graduate scholarship, the Northern Scientific Technology Program for two grants for research in the north, and the University of British Columbia Okanagan for graduate fellowships and travel grants.     xiii Dedication   To my ancestors and to future generations, especially…  My grandmother, Edith Maisie Pruden Pudwill My mother, Patricia Edith Pudwill Larson My children, Adam and Annika Bovenkerk     xiv   Prologue  Within Indigenous writing, a prologue structures space for introductions while serving a bridging function for non-Indigenous readers. It is a precursory signal to the careful reader that woven throughout the varied forms of our writing—analytical, reflective, expository—there will be a story, for our story is who we are. (Kovach 2009, 4)  My own story of identity and sense of belonging began in my early childhood when I recognized that my mother did not want to speak about her ancestry. Every September when teachers sent home registration forms to update for my three siblings and myself, my mother would become flustered and agitated at the last question, which asked about nationality. As the oldest child in a family of four children, I was expected to help my mother to fill out the forms. I remember wondering from year to year if she would answer truthfully by naming our Swedish, English, German, Métis heritage. So I would wait and watch as she hummed and hawed and then blurted out each year, “oh, just write English.” I recognized my mother’s discomfort at the time but did not understand why this seemingly easy question would cause her such anxiety.  In my twenties, my cousin, Carla, came for a visit from California and asked if we knew that we had “Indian”1 heritage. My mother denied my cousin’s comments, but I began to wonder if perhaps Carla’s comments explained my mother’s resistance to speak about ancestry. By then, my siblings and I knew to avoid the topic of heritage on my mother’s side of the family. In 1990, when I was in my 30’s, my mother’s mother, Edith Maisie Pruden Pudwill, was honoured by the Saskatchewan government, as the oldest descendent of the Pruden family. When the Government of Saskatchewan presented my grandmother with a plaque to honor her as the oldest living descendent of Hudson Bay factor, John Peter Pruden and his nêhiyawak (Cree)2                                                         1 The federal government and most citizens in the United States of America use the terms, “Indian Tribes”, “Indian Nations”, and “Indian Bands” for the Indigenous peoples in the USA. 2 The Plains Cree people use the word, nêhiyawak, as the name for their nation.  xv wife, Patasegawisk, also known as Nancy, my mother decided to inform her children about our family history (Pruden 1990). Sharing our history was difficult for my mother because she had been taught by her parents to hide her German and Métis heritage. My mother did not take my grandmother, who was then eighty years of age, to the ceremony in Saskatchewan because she said, “there might have been too many natives there” (Patricia Larson, July 1900, personal conversation). However, because my grandmother was being honored, my mother decided to do some research and when she found our ancestors’ contribution to Canadian history at the local library, my mother told my siblings and I about our heritage. My mother did not use the term Métis and she was still uncomfortable speaking about the topic, but she did hang the honorary plaque from Saskatchewan in my Grandmother’s residence. When I read Cora Weber-Pillwax’s unexplained statement, “At my first visit to the community, I had met my grandmother, a woman I had not known existed prior to that point,” (2004, 87) I was able to connect to a similar story in my own family. In my family, soon after my parents had married, my grandfather moved with his wife and younger children to the United States. When my grandparents divorced a few years later, my grandmother was deported from the United States back to Canada. My aunt, who was only three at the time did not know that her mother, my grandmother, was alive until she was a married woman with children. For some reason, my mother and uncle kept the secret until one summer when my aunt came for a visit to Canada. My aunt overheard my sister speaking to our grandmother on the telephone, asked who she was speaking to, and discovered that she had a mother (Darlene Pudwill Donnelly Heidt, April 20, 2015, personal conversation). This is one example of the many ways that my parents and grandparents did everything in their power to obliterate Métis heritage and culture from our family.  xvi For many years, the loss of identity in my family lay dormant in the back of my mind. Over time, I began to wonder if denying our heritage might have affected my siblings and I in our developmental years. I questioned this because although we seemed like the perfect family when we were growing up, not all of my siblings thrived in adulthood. When, as a teacher, I began to hear about initiatives to enhance sense of belonging for Indigenous3 students, I reflected upon my personal experiences in our family and wondered if my insights might guide my pursuit of a doctoral degree. Unlike Cora Weber-Pillwax, I cannot determine a particular incident that ignited my interest to pursue research about identity and belonging for Aboriginal students, but I can say that I feel a connection to Cora Weber-Pillwax’s words, “now I had the responsibility to do something about it. I carried that sense of responsibility away with me… and it is still with me” (2001, 167). My hope for the future is that every child will live in a world where they can acknowledge their heritage with pride.  This dissertation is a report of the partnership research, which occurred between Taku River Tlingit First Nation, School District 87 (Stikine), and myself.4 However woven throughout the presentation of the research I have included my reflections about the decolonization of my thinking that occurred during the research process.5 This, too, is part of the story                                                         3 In the Constitution Act, 1982 of Canada, the term, Aboriginal, is used to refer to Indigenous peoples who are “Indian, Inuit, and Métis” (Canada 1982, Section 35(2)). However, not all Indigenous peoples in Canada have the documentation required to acquire status as members of these three groups. In this dissertation, I use the term, Indigenous, to be all inclusive of all Indigenous peoples in Canada, such as Indigenous peoples who have not been able to attain status as First Nations, Métis, or Inuit. Cardinal suggests that Indigenous means, “born of that environment, from the land in which it sits” (2001, 180). Cardinal states: Indigenous peoples with their traditions and customs are shaped by the environment, by the land. They have a spiritual, emotional, and physical relationship to that land. It speaks to them; it gives them their responsibility for stewardship; and it sets out a relationship. (2001, 180) The term, Aboriginal, will be used when I refer to B.C. Ministry of Education documents, Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreements, because that is the name used in the title. 4 Throughout this document, I use the abbreviations TRTFN for Taku River Tlingit First Nation and SD87 for School District 87 (Stikine). 5 My interpretations of colonization and decolonization are as follows. Colonization is the dominance of one peoples or nation over another, including the appropriation of lands and the destruction of the culture and language of the  xvii                                                           colonized peoples. Decolonization is the process that dominated peoples undergo, individually and/or collectively, to recover from the feelings of oppression that were imposed by the colonizers.  1 Chapter 1 Introduction  “Because qualitative research is interpretive, the stories of both the researcher and the research participants are reflected in the meanings being made” (Kovach 2009, 26).  In 2007, most nations who make up the United Nations signed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) affirming, “Indigenous peoples have the right to the dignity and diversity of their cultures, traditions, histories, and aspirations, which shall be appropriately reflected in education and public information” (UNDRIP 2007, Article 15).6 For Indigenous peoples, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is without a doubt the most important and influential agreement to give recognition to Indigenous peoples worldwide and to support decolonization and self-determination. The declaration was in negotiation for more than two decades and the signing in 2007 gave cause for international celebration. However, for many non-Indigenous peoples, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has had little impact. Some Canadians will have heard of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, but others are unaware of its existence and the years of negotiations that occurred for nations to sign the declaration. I was an uninformed Canadian prior to my graduate school journey. Until commencing studies at the University of British Columbia Okanagan (UBCO), I had not heard of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. I would hear about issues for Indigenous peoples in Canada on CBC radio and feel confused since I did not understand what was being said. In fact one of my reasons for applying to graduate studies was                                                         6 Canada, the United States of America, Australia, and New Zealand were at first reluctant to sign the declaration, but by late 2010 all four nations who were originally colonies of the United Kingdom had formally endorsed the declaration. Shanley (2015) suggests that the reluctance of the four nations above was due to “the most controversial aspect of the UNDRIP” (16), the fact that the UNDRIP recognizes rights to self-determination and self-government, and honours that treaties and agreements with Indigenous peoples must be upheld.  2 to improve my understanding of treaty negotiations and conflicts between Indigenous peoples and governments in Canada. I felt that I was naïve and believed that as a Canadian I ought to have a better understanding of the issues for Indigenous peoples. I was not yet familiar with the term, Indigenous, and was in fact quite confused about the names, First Nations, First Peoples, and Aboriginal. I had no understanding of the history of colonization and the persistence of issues related to colonization for Indigenous peoples today. I had no idea of the learning that I was about to acquire. I had not yet found the documentation to apply for my citizenship in the Métis Nation British Columbia and did not think of myself as a person with Aboriginal status. What is shocking to me now about my reflections on my previous lack of knowledge and understanding is that I was a teacher in public schools responsible for the education of all students in my classes, some of whom were Indigenous. To fully support all students, I am surprised that I was not more aware of the issues for Indigenous students in my classrooms. How is it that I was not more informed about the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous peoples? I believe that my lack of knowledge and understanding was not unique. Although I am now retired from the public education system, I am still involved in contract work in schools as a consultant for ways to enhance learning for Indigenous students and as a faculty mentor for student teachers. From my continuing conversations with educators in public schools, I believe that my own lack of understanding of ongoing colonization and assimilation for Indigenous peoples was fairly typical for most teachers in our public school system.  I would have remained uninformed about education for Indigenous students had it not been for the British Columbia Ministry of Education initiative to ensure that school districts work in partnership with First Nations to establish Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreements  3 (British Columbia Ministry of Education, Aboriginal Education 2016a).7 During the past decade, the sixty school districts in British Columbia have created Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreements in consultation with local Indigenous peoples to address the concern that achievement data for Indigenous students is below achievement data for non-Indigenous students.8 Some statistics about the discrepancies between achievement data for Indigenous and non-Indigenous students are provided later in this chapter in the sections entitled, The Canadian Context and The Context in British Columbia. Many enhancement agreements emphasize the importance of including local Indigenous culture and language to improve sense of belonging and achievement for Indigenous students (see Appendix B for a sampling of AEEA goals). Upon hearing about goals for sense of belonging, I became intrigued about the relationships between cultural and language activities in classrooms, students’ sense of belonging, and student achievement.  My research question, “How do Indigenous cultural and language activities in public schools in British Columbia influence sense of belonging and student achievement for Indigenous learners?” was formulated for my graduate school application and, really, my question has not changed since those early stages of my studies. However, my understanding about the context for education for Indigenous students nationally and internationally, my                                                         7 I was introduced to Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreements when I attended the B.C. Principals’ and Vice Principals’ Summer Institute 2009 at UBC Vancouver. That fall, I attended the signing ceremony for the Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement in Chilliwack, B.C. where I was employed with the school district to learn more about the process and the goals for education for Indigenous students. 8 An enhancement agreement is defined by the B.C. Ministry of Education as, “a working agreement between a school district, all local Aboriginal communities, and the Ministry of Education designed to enhance the educational achievement of Aboriginal students” (British Columbia Ministry of Education, Aboriginal Education 2016a). An enhancement agreement is described as a “collaborative partnership between Aboriginal communities and school districts” established to share decision-making and design specific goals for Aboriginal students’ educational needs.  4 learning about Indigenous worldviews vs. European worldviews, and my approach to the question have changed dramatically.9 When I began my doctoral program in Summer 2011, I was approaching my research as a person with substantial teaching experience who thought she had something to contribute to making a difference for Indigenous students. I was unaware of my own colonized thinking. In my first courses in the Summer Institute for Indigenous Studies, I was surprised and confused by words that were not in my vocabulary; terms like Indigenous and indigeneity, indigenize, colonization and decolonization, worldview, and Eurocentrism. I began my studies with the belief that I had many years of experience as an educator in a variety of roles and that I might have something to offer to make changes to assist Indigenous students to have success in school. I had signed up for the Summer Institute upon the advice of my supervisor because I thought at that time that I would learn important background information about Indigenous peoples. I did not yet know how life changing my experiences would be that summer and in subsequent years in graduate school with respect to understanding colonization and the effect that it has on all Canadians. By the end of the UBC Okanagan Summer Institute in Indigenous Studies I had formulated the idea that my research had to be completed in a way that did not perpetuate colonization.  Goals for the Research  As I learned to recognize the colonization that permeates our daily lives in Canada and in particular, my own colonized thinking, new dimensions for my dissertation began to surface. In                                                         9 In current literature about Indigenous education and Indigenous research scholars use the terms, Western and European, to describe worldviews that are not Indigenous. For this dissertation, I have chosen to use the word, European, because I believe that education systems in Canada have been and are still influenced by European worldviews.  5 addition to finding answers to my research question, I wanted to find a way to include the story of my own decolonization in my writing. As well, upon learning about the long history of research about Indigenous peoples in Canada rather than research with Indigenous peoples as partners, I wanted to participate in a project that modeled how to partner with Indigenous peoples in research. Hence, my research took on two goals: (1) to collaborate with Indigenous peoples as research partners and (2) to investigate if, and how, participation in Indigenous language and cultural activities influences Indigenous students’ sense of belonging and achievement.  To achieve these two goals I partnered with the Taku River Tlingit First Nation and Atlin School, School District 87 (Stikine) in two phases: Phase I (Establishing Partnerships) and Phase II (Learning from TRTFN and SD87). During Phase I, I focused upon participant observation activities to establish relationships with my research partners and consulted with my research partners about the research methods for Phase II. In Phase II, I interviewed students, parents, school staff, and hosted focus group meetings with community members to ask them about school experiences in general, opportunities to learn Indigenous language and culture, and relationships with others in the school and community. As well in Phase II, I continued to consult with my research partners about the research processes and the results of the interviews and focus group sessions. In this dissertation I describe my experiences of partnership research with community partners and attempt to answer the research question by sharing the perceptions of the community members with whom I worked. As for my own journey of decolonization, my intention is to weave my personal reflections throughout my dissertation in hope that others will learn from the insights I have gained.  Before continuing with the introduction to this dissertation, I wish to follow the Indigenous protocol of introducing Taku River Tlingit First Nation, School District 87 (Stikine), and myself.  6  Introduction to Myself  Onowa McIvor (2010) suggests that as researchers we must introduce who we are, who our ancestors are, and why we are doing our chosen work. In keeping with Indigenous protocols before I begin my dissertation, I first wish to introduce myself to share a bit of my life experience, since my life experiences have indeed influenced my worldview, which in turn has affected my research with the Taku River Tlingit First Nation and School District 87 (Stikine).   Who am I?  I grew up in Surrey, British Columbia, now a bustling suburb of Vancouver, in a White middleclass family in the 1950’s and 60’s. In those days, Surrey was quite rural, and I was excited to move away to the University of British Columbia Vancouver to attain my teaching degree in the areas of Mathematics and Library Science.  I moved to Quesnel and then Prince George, British Columbia to begin my teaching career and ended up staying in the Central Interior of the province, although we called it “the north”, from 1976 until 2002 when I moved to teach in Vernon, British Columbia. During my thirty-year career as a teacher, I taught many Indigenous students in elementary and secondary schools, however, I do not recall attending professional development training to assist me to know how to better support the Indigenous students in my classes.10 In 2008, I moved to Chilliwack, B.C. where I became interested in the ways that schools meet the needs of Indigenous students because of the disconnect that I was feeling between meeting the physical and emotional needs                                                         10 Since January 2013, the British Columbia Ministry of Education, Teacher Regulation Branch has made coursework in Indigenous Studies mandatory for all new teachers to acquire a teaching license in B.C. However, for practicing teachers in B.C. professional development about teaching Indigenous learners is still a personal choice.  7 of Indigenous students and meeting the district and provincial Ministry of Education goals for achievement in Reading, Writing, and Mathematics.  In Prince George, I became of mom, of two beautiful children, who have been my primary mentors from the day they were born. My children did not learn to speak with words due to the severe cerebral palsy they developed as infants, however, my greatest learning has come from the way that my son, Adam Bovenkerk, and my daughter, Annika Bovenkerk, communicate without words. Sadly, my son passed away on Earth Day, April 22, 2014 at the age of thirty-two years. When I read Indigenous scholars, who describe the importance of learning from oral traditions and oral stories even though they are not recorded in the written tradition of European knowledge, I am reminded of my children, who have taught me not through written language or even spoken words, but through another non-verbal dimension that is certainly not recognized in academic settings. I wonder if this ability to communicate and teach in another dimension is connected to the spiritual aspect of knowledge referred to by Indigenous scholars (Cardinal 2001; McIvor 2010; Weber-Pillwax 2001; Wilson 2003; Wilson 1995). I say this because I am new to understanding the connections between spirit and research. My first step towards understanding spirit is the close connection I have with my daughter through our spirits. My daughter and I communicate through the tone of her sounds and through touch. Applying this idea to my research means that I must be mindful of the spirits of the individuals and communities with whom I am working by paying close attention to little nuances in every conversation. To summarize, “Who am I?” I am a person who has loved teaching and learning for my lifetime and who enjoys sharing her learning with others. I will also add that my children have taught me to read the non-verbal signs in interactions with others and to look for positives in  8 every situation that life brings. These two traits have guided my decisions about the design of my doctoral research.  Who are My Ancestors?  My father’s ancestors came to Canada from Sweden (Larson) and England (Brydon) in the late 1800’s. My mother is descended from German/Russian immigrants (Pudwill) who came to the USA in the late 1800’s and Métis people (Pruden) from Manitoba. My parents did not like to acknowledge my mother’s heritage because they felt it was unsafe to recognize German ancestry after World War II and Métis ancestry because of the racism in Canada towards Indigenous peoples. When I was growing up, Canada seemed to have a stronger connection to the United Kingdom and having a grandmother born in England seemed prestigious. We said we were of English ancestry, as I noted earlier. However, I have always been intrigued to know more about my Métis heritage and in 2011, coinciding with the year I began my doctoral degree, I acquired my Aboriginal status. I am a new member of the Métis Nation British Columbia, who is learning about my Métis family culture. My time as a Métis is short, however, my family history as Métis people is lengthy. My ancestor, John Peter Pruden, came to Canada from Edmonton, Middlesex, England, in 1791 as an apprentice with the Hudson Bay Company (Pruden 1990). In 1800, he married his nêhiyawak (Cree) wife, Patasegawisk (Nancy) who is believed to be from Norway House, now Oxford House in Manitoba, and together they had six children (Pruden 1990). My grandmother, Edith Maisie Pruden, was the great granddaughter of John and Nancy’s son, James. I come from a Métis family who made a major contribution to the development of our country, and yet my parents and grandparents did not speak of our heritage and contributions. My grandmother never  9 spoke of her ancestry to me and even though my mother spoke about her Pruden ancestor later in life, she was still very reluctant and uncomfortable.  When I read about the initiatives of early governments in our country to marginalize and extinguish Métis people from the land and the Canadian cultural landscape (Belanger 2014; Episkenew 2009, Kennedy 2009), I believe that for my family the initiatives were successful. In fact, the devastation for Métis people, and my own family, was more than marginalization. In my family, a confused identity caused racism against our own family members instead of pride in the contributions of our ancestors. This experience is not un-common in the lives of many assimilated Métis. Métis scholar Maria Campbell explains the intensity of the effects of assimilation in her influential book, Half-breed, quoting her grandmother, who warned “they will divide us against one another” (1973, 90).   I knew my maternal grandmother for fifty years, but during those years, she never spoke of her ancestry or her childhood. Later in her life I sometimes tried to talk to my grandmother about the Pruden family. I recall mentioning to her once that I had met some people named Pruden, who must be relatives. Grandma replied, “Were they light or dark?” I did not understand the racism in her comment until reading Maria Campbell’s explanation of how Métis mothers and grandmothers would deny their heritage in order to protect their children from racism.  Although I cannot say that I have experienced the racism that many Indigenous people in Canada experience on a daily basis, I have at least on a cursory level, a bit of an understanding of the debilitating effects of racism. I am surprised at the reactions I witness when I tell friends and family about acquiring my status as an Aboriginal person and now understand the fears of my mother and grandmother. I have on many occasions had to summon moral courage (Kidder  10 2005) to acknowledge my Métis status. At the same time, I am excited about my new journey in life to learn more about my Métis routes by participating in Métis meetings and events.  I include these memories of my grandmother and personal reflections about my heritage for a purpose. Indigenous scholars write about the importance of knowing and introducing oneself in written, as well as oral expression, as a way of giving readers a glimpse of the author’s worldview (Absolon and Willett 2005; McIvor 2010; Steinhauer 2002; Styres 2008; Wilson 2003). Honore France explains the connections between worldview and research by explaining that, “our worldviews affect our belief systems, decision making, assumptions, and modes of problem solving” (1997, 7). My reflections about my Métis ancestry and status has influenced not only the research project that I undertook with the Taku River Tlingit First Nation and School District 87 (Stikine), but every aspect of my doctoral experience leading up to the actual fieldwork experience from my interpretations of the readings, to the relationships I established with my research partners, to every aspect of the planning process for data collection, through to the interpretation and publication of findings.   Why am I Doing This Chosen Work?  Late in my teaching career, the Ministry of Education in British Columbia began an initiative to encourage school districts to collaborate with local Indigenous peoples to develop Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreements to enhance learning for Indigenous students in British Columbia. I became intrigued with the Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreements, in particular the goals and strategies which suggested that improving sense of belonging for Aboriginal students through increasing opportunities to learn about Aboriginal culture and language would enhance students’ academic success. As I mentioned earlier, I saw many in-congruencies between my daily interactions with the children and the mandates from the  11 Ministry of Education. As a member of the school administration team, I was expected to raise achievement rates for Aboriginal students in reading, writing, and numeracy when my students and their parents were asking me for assistance with food, clothing, care, behaviour interventions, and mental health supports. These discrepancies had me wondering, “why are things the way they are for Aboriginal people in Canada?”11 My journey in graduate school has been an unpacking of the effects of colonization in my own family and in the school system, which I have been a part of for most of my lifetime. My worldview has been influenced by my fifty years of participation in the B.C. public school system as a child and adult, student and teacher, and my experiences in graduate school have changed my worldview. Now, I am sensitive to European dominance over Indigenous knowledges and ways of knowing and to ongoing colonization in Canada. Now, I am aware of the rights of Indigenous peoples as described in the United Nations Rights on Indigenous Peoples, including rights to education about Indigenous cultures and in Indigenous languages. Now, I understand (although, I will continue to learn more) the humbling experience of research with Indigenous people (Smith 2012), the importance of pursuing research with Indigenous people as research partners (Battiste 2008; Kovach 2009; Weber-Pillwax 2004), the need for researchers to acquire a comprehensive understanding of Indigenous methodologies before beginning research projects with Indigenous peoples, and the importance of developing a research paradigm that is congruent with an Indigenous worldview (Wilson 2003). My research question has not changed. I am still curious to know how sense of belonging for Indigenous                                                         11 As I write and edit this paper, my mind and heart are decolonizing. In the education community in British Columbia, it is common to use phrases such as, “our students” and “our Aboriginal students” and as a teacher and administrator I used these phrases often. I believe that educators use the words “my students” and “our students” because they care about their students. However, in my graduate program, my supervisor, Dr. Christine Schreyer pointed out that these words could sound quite patronizing particularly if educators say, “our Aboriginal students.” I am becoming more aware of language that marginalizes Aboriginal peoples in Canada. I am aware, but the phrases are ingrained and I am finding that I still must make a conscious effort to take care with the language I use.  12 students will improve students’ academic success, however my understanding of the context for the question has been expanded. I wonder, “Will Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreements benefit Indigenous students in the way they are intended to do or will enhancement agreements join the long list of unsuccessful and often devastating interventions designed to assist Indigenous peoples in Canada (Episkenew, 2009)?” When writing about what motivates her work, Onawa McIvor writes, “I seek to break the cycle of loss of language and culture in my family” (2010, 137). For my family and me, I sometimes feel that revitalization of language and culture comes too late. However, perhaps by creating and sharing a model for research with Indigenous peoples and sharing what Indigenous peoples say about sense of belonging, Indigenous culture and language, and student achievement, this research might help to prevent the assimilation and loss of identity, which occurred for my family, from happening to others. At the very least, I hope that including my reflections about decolonizing my thinking might inspire others to recognize the colonization of their own thoughts. On a personal level, there are so many conversations I wish I could have had with my grandmother, Edith Maisie Pruden Pudwill. This research has provided me with, in the words of Onowa McIvor, “the opportunity to approach the work in a cultural and spiritual way, with my ancestors walking beside me…” (2010, 138).   Introduction to Taku River Tlingit First Nation co-authored by Louise Gordon and Colleen Larson  Who is the Taku River Tlingit First Nation?  On the homepage of the official website for the Taku River Tlingit First Nation, the TRTFN introduce themselves with these words: We, the Taku River Tlingit, are moving forward as the responsible decision makers of our land and waters within our Territory. Our Territory covers over 40,000 sq/km and includes  13 what is now known as British Columbia, Yukon and Alaska/US. Our Territory contains high mountains, expansive forests rich with wildlife and salmon filled wild rivers. As responsible decision makers we are embarking on a course necessary to ensure the preservation of our wildlife and fisheries. This will assist us in ensuring the preservation of what is Tlingit. (TRTFN 2016b)  The Taku River Tlingit people are stewards of the territory which spans much of the drainage basin of the Taku River and adjoining lakes in what is now the northwest corner of British Columbia, the southwest corner of the Yukon Territory, and a small corner of Alaska (Schreyer et al. 2014). Many of the members of the Taku River Tlingit First Nation live in or near the small town of Atlin, two hundred kilometres south of Whitehorse, on Atlin Lake, named by the Taku River Tlingit as Áa Tlein (meaning Big Lake), but others live north in the Yukon Territory and away from the community. The TRTFN has not signed a treaty with the federal or provincial governments and have never surrendered their Aboriginal title to their lands, however, during the 1915 McKenna-McBride Commission, the TRTFN were provided with some reserve lands.12 Many members of the TRTFN live in the town-site reserve in Atlin, known as, Wéinaa, meaning alkali, or at the reserve that is located five miles south of town, known in English as Five Mile Point, but in Tlingit as Liyaat'i X'áa Jigei, meaning ‘like the crook of an arm’ (see Figure 1.1 Streets of Atlin with Five Mile Point, Liyaat'i X'áa Jigei, to the South).  Connection to land plays a major role in all aspects of daily living for the Taku River Tlingit people. This philosophy for living is clearly stated in the constitution of the Taku River Tlingit First Nation and on the welcome sign to the territory (see Figure 1.2 Taku River Tlingit First Nation Welcome Sign on Atlin Road), “It is the land from which we come that connects all                                                         12 In Canada, a reservation or reserve was specified in The Indian Act, 1876 (Canada. 1876) as land titled to the Crown but set aside by Her Majesty for the use and benefit of Indian bands. Indian reserves are determined by the Canadian state (“the Crown”) and should not be confused with First Nations’ traditional lands, which are larger than reserves.  14 life. Our land is our lifeblood. Our land looks after us and we look after our land. Anything that happens to Tlingit land affects us and our culture” (TRTFN 1993, 3).  The Taku River Tlingit have an expression, Haa Kusteeyí, which means “Tlingit way of living” (Williams 2015, 4). When I visit in Atlin, I often hear members of the TRTFN use the words, Haa Kusteeyí, to describe a lifestyle which respects, sustains, and learns from the land. The TRTFN refers to Haa Kusteeyí in the Wóoshtin wudidaa: Atlin Taku Land Use Plan: The natural environment is productive and supports diverse and abundant animal, fish and plant species as well as sustainable opportunities for harvesting, gathering and other activities on the land, including the Tlingit land based way of life, Haa Kusteeyí, and the lifestyle of the local community. (TRTFN 2011, 12)    Figure 1.1 Streets of Atlin with Five Mile Point, Liyaat'i X'áa Jigei, to the South (Mike Johnson, 2016, Discover Atlin)    15  Figure 1.2 Taku River Tlingit First Nation Welcome Sign on Atlin Road (Larson, 2015)   Haa Kusteeyí guides Tlingit stewardship over their territory in many ways including the development of land plans, participation in court cases and government to government negotiations, as well as throughout the British Columbia Treaty process.13 As well, Tlingit language and cultural revitalization projects within the community are linked to the stewardship practices of the Taku River Tlingit First Nation (Schreyer 2011). For example, in the TRTFN Vision and Management Document the Taku River Tlingit community members state that, “land use planning and management shall be grounded in Tlingit concepts, values, and understandings, and should be infused with Tlingit language” (TRTFN 2003, 16). TRTFN has been actively involved in bringing Tlingit language back to the community to reverse the language shift, which occurred across their territory because of colonization. A recent                                                         13 For more on the stewardship and land management of the Taku River Tlingit First Nation see Schreyer et al. (2014) or visit the website of the TRTFN at www.trtfn.com.    16 language needs assessment for the Taku River Tlingit language (First Peoples’ Language Map of British Columbia 2016) concluded that within the four hundred forty eight members of the Taku River Tlingit First Nation only six individuals are fluent speakers, ten individuals speak or understand Tlingit somewhat, and forty individuals are learning the language. As no children are learning Tlingit as their first language, the language of the Taku River Tlingit people is endangered.  The TRTFN can access support with language revitalization14 through the Sealaska Heritage Institute in Alaska and the Yukon Native Language Centre in Whitehorse because Tlingit is spoken in Alaska and the Yukon (Andre Bourcier, Yukon Native Language Centre, February 2, 2017, telephone conversation). The Taku River Tlingit dialect is closer to the coastal dialect in Alaska than it is to the interior Tlingit dialects spoken in Teslin and Carcross in the Yukon Territory due to the fact that the ancestors of the Taku River Tlingit peoples travelled up the Taku River from the ocean (Andre Bourcier, Yukon Native Language Centre, February 2, 2017, telephone conversation). Also, the TRTFN uses the spelling system from Sealaska Heritage Institute, which is different from the spelling system used at the Yukon Native Language Centre. However, Tlingit peoples from Atlin, Teslin, and Carcross understand each other’s dialects. In fact, when I spoke with Elder Jackie Williams in May 2015 he indicated that he enjoys going to Teslin so that he can speak Tlingit with some of the Elders there. Several successful projects have been completed for Taku River Tlingit language documentation. The TRTFN has created the Tlingit Language Curriculum Guide (TRTFN n.d.) for use at the Atlin School and in the Tlingit Family Learning Centre (TFLC), which offers                                                         14 Language revitalization is a term applied to situations where Indigenous peoples are working to increase the number of language speakers, change attitudes about the Indigenous language, increase the number of domains [places] of usage for the language, or improve the fluency of the speakers (Crystal 2000, Krauss 1992, Nettle and Romaine 2000).  17 family programs particularly for pre-school and school age children. As well, through a joint project with the TRTFN departments for Health and Social and for Lands and Resources, the TRTFN and Dr. Christine Schreyer created a game to teach Tlingit, “Haa shagóon ítx yaa ntoo.aat” (Schreyer and Gordon 2007). Individuals, who play the game, learn the Tlingit words for resources found on the land, such as fish, berries, and animals, while at the same time learning the Tlingit place names for the areas where those resources are collected.15 Another joint project between UBC Okanagan and the TRTFN departments for Health and Social and for Lands and Resources was the creation of an interactive online map, Learning to Talk to the Land; (Re)claiming Taku River Tlingit Place Names, (Schreyer et al. 2014). This project emerged from the community’s desire to reclaim the Tlingit place names on government maps. The Tlingit Place Names Map includes information about places in Taku River Tlingit territory, how to say the place names in Tlingit, traditional stories about the land, an interactive forum for community members to connect about the land, and lesson plans which match the B.C. Ministry of Education Curriculum for Grades K to 9 (Taku River Tlingit Place Names 2014). Dr. Schreyer has also worked on a project with the TRTFN departments for Health and Social and for Lands and Lands and Resources to create new signs with Tlingit place names to post in the Atlin area and Tlingit territory (see Figure 4.10 Painting Signs to (Re)claim Tlingit Place Names). A new project hopes to convince the B.C. government to change maps of the area to include Tlingit place names rather than English names. These joint projects demonstrate the importance of language and land to the TRTFN and some of the ways that the TRTFN include connections to the land in all their actions.                                                          15 For more information on the board game, see Schreyer and Gordon (2007) and Schreyer (2011).   18 Who are the Ancestors of the Taku River Tlingit First Nation?  The Taku River Tlingit First Nation are Tlingit peoples. For thousands of years, Tlingit nations have lived all over the north western tip of North America in what is now Alaska, Yukon Territory, and British Columbia. Many years ago, Taku River Tlingit peoples travelled up the Taku River from Juneau, Alaska and settled permanently in what were originally summer fishing camps in the Taku River system. The history of the TFTFN has been passed on orally from generation to generation and more recently TRTFN history has been recorded in books such as those by Elizabeth Nyman and Jeff Leer (1993) and Jackie Williams (2015). In Gágiwduł.àt: Brought Forth to Reconfirm: the Legacy of a Taku River Tlingit Clan (Nyman and Leer 1993), locally known as Mrs. Nyman’s Book, Elizabeth Nyman tells creation stories from the ancestors that she heard as a child. As well, Mrs. Nyman tells stories of her life growing up as the Taku River territory began to be populated with more and more non-Indigenous peoples. The stories in Mrs. Nyman’s Book are filled with descriptions of relationships and interactions between the land and the Tlingit people throughout the drainage system of the Taku River. In Lingit Kusteeyí: What my Grandfather Taught Me, Jackie Williams tells the story of the borderline between the Tlingit and the Tahltan peoples. These stories continue to be passed down from generation to generation by family members, who tell the stories to their children.16  Today, the government offices for the TRTFN are located in Atlin and include departments for Administration, Economic Development, Education, Fisheries, Land and Resources, Operations and Maintenance, and Social and Health.17 Ten kilometres to the north of Atlin, on Atlin Rd, the Economic Development Department is also involved in a corporation, Atlin Tlingit                                                         16 Parents and students whom I interviewed spoke about learning the stories as children. 17 I feel it important to include these details in this introduction to TRTFN because I believe that most Canadians do not realize that First Nations are nations with government departments like any other government in Canada.  19 Economic Limited Partnership (ATELP), which has a mandate “to empower TRT citizens to develop sustainable careers while upholding Tlingit values that maintain the physical and spiritual values of the TRT Traditional Territory” (TRTFN 2016a). ATELP includes the Skills, Training, Employment Program (STEP), an education and employment program for members of TRTFN, and Taku Wild, a commercial company, which produces and sells smoked salmon products from the Taku River. The TRTFN governance system follows a traditional clan based system of government. In the early 1990’s the members of TRTFN made the decision to change their government system from “the foreign Chief & Council system of government” to a traditional “Tlingit Clan System of government” (TRTFN 1993, 1). According to the TRTFN constitution, a clan “includes the primary social structure of TRTFN which is based upon the two clans (Crow and Wolf) consisting of one or more Houses” (TRTFN 1993, 2). Members of the TRTFN elect a Spokesperson and Clan Directors following the Taku River Tlingit First Nation Custom Election Rules and Regulations. The current Spokesperson Louise Gordon, was elected in June 2015.   I first met Spokesperson Louise Gordon in January 2012 at a luncheon with my supervisor, Dr. Christine Schreyer. Linda McGill, Manager for Education, Health, and Social for TRTFN at the time joined us as well. Louise and Linda were attending the First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC) workshops in Kamloops, B.C. to support the renewal of the Local Education Agreement18 between the Taku River Tlingit First Nation and School District 87. Christine Schreyer invited me along to the luncheon to give me the opportunity to present my research idea for a partnership project about education for Indigenous students. Louise and Linda                                                         18 A Local Education Agreement is a tuition agreement between a First Nation and a school district or private school to give First Nations, “a stronger voice in the education of their children and help to improve educational outcomes for First Nations learners” (FNESC 2014, 3).   20 were enthusiastic about the idea and we began to put the steps in place to begin our partnership research.  Beginning in March 2013 through to March 2015 I made several trips to Atlin during all seasons to build connections with my research partners before the actual start of interviews with participants: students, parents, and staff at the school.19 Members of TRTFN invited me to meals and cups of tea in their homes, to community events in Atlin, and to Tlingit Celebration 2016 in Juneau, Alaska. I think it is important to say that I have learned from every experience and have observed Haa Kusteeyí in action every day that I have spent with members of TRTFN. In everything they do, members of TRTFN demonstrate that language and land are closely tied. The interconnections between language and land guide all aspects of living in the community and current projects to plan for future generations.  Why is Taku River Tlingit First Nation Partnering in This Research?  To understand why Taku River Tlingit First Nation would want to partner in research, I asked Spokesperson Louise Gordon about the benefits of doing research with a university.  Louise Gordon explained: For myself, we learn, a mutual benefit. For example, with Christine (Dr. Christine Schreyer), we needed some work completed when she came in. We knew the language was linked to our territory. It’s like an identity. There is a language that comes from that territory. How does language support the land claims process? The way language supports it is your dialect. She [Christine] was bringing in the scientific part and I was bringing in the traditional part. It was a learning opportunity for both sides. For your project, you need to learn, but it helps me to get a higher level of understanding and that is really important. It is kind of like reinforcing your natural instincts. (Louise Gordon, January 15, 2016, telephone conversation)                                                          19 For this research, I distinguished between research partners, who were community members who consented to be my advisors, and research participants, who consented to interviews and focus group sessions for the project. Some members of the community consented to both roles.  21 Louise Gordon relied on her previous research with Dr. Schreyer to give an example of the ways in which partnership research can benefit the Taku River Tlingit First Nation. She explained with the following example: Christine did interviews with some of the Elders and I learned. Auntie Mrs. Nyman told the story, My Grandfather’s Trail. That’s a project we need to finish. We need to find the time to do it. The story needs to be put on the [Taku River Tlingit Place Names] geolive map. The story and the dialect she uses show that she belongs to that territory. Another person tells the grandfather story, because they all tell similar stories. That person is from Teslin. Because of the way they tell the story. I took it to a higher level…you don’t have to fight about land boundaries. All they have to do is listen to the dialect. Dialect tells that is where you belong, like an accent. (Louise Gordon, January 15, 2016, telephone conversation)  In this example, Louise Gordon has provided the details of how working in partnership allows both partners to bring their strengths to the relationship for a positive outcome. As our conversation continued Louise Gordon suggested that I needed to link our research to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). She commented, “You need to ask questions about residential schools. In your next surveys, you need questions that get to that topic” (Louise Gordon, January 15, 2016, telephone conversation). At this stage in our research process, interviews with students and parents in Atlin were completed and transcribed. However, Louise Gordon’s comments prompted me to reread Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future; Summary of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (Canada. TRC 2015) to look for more connections between our research and the recommendations for Calls to Action from the commissioners of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. These connections will be reported in later chapters of this dissertation. This is just one example of how our partnership benefited my decisions for this research.  Introduction to School District 87 (Stikine) co-authored by Mike Gordon and Colleen Larson   22 Who is School District 87 (Stikine)?  School District 87 is, geographically, one of the largest school districts in the province and by student population, one of the smallest. The school district is located in the northwest corner of the province in the unceded territories of the Tahltan First Nation, the Kaska First Nation, and the Taku River Tlingit First Nation. School registration records for 2014 indicated that approximately 163 Aboriginal students and 24 non-Aboriginal students were enrolled in four schools: 105 students in Dease Lake School in Dease Lake in Kindergarten through to Grade 12, 32 students in Tahltan School in Telegraph Creek in Kindergarten through to Grade 9, 16 students in Denetia School in Lower Post in Kindergarten through to Grade 7, and 34 students in Atlin School in Atlin in Kindergarten through to Grade 9 (School District 87 (Stikine) 2015a).20 The four schools are located in a geographic area of 188 034 square kilometres (School District 87 (Stikine) 2015a) with a school board office in Dease Lake. Travel between schools and to the school board office is one day’s journey on remote roads (see Figure 1.3 Map of School District 87 (Stikine)).                                                          20 As of February 12, 2017, the most recent information about these statistics on the School District 87 (Stikine) website is the Achievement Contract 2014-15.  23  Figure 1.3 Map of School District 87 (Stikine) (SD87, 2016)  Because of the remoteness and the distances between communities, School District 87 has obvious challenges. The school district continues to look for ways to support teachers and students with technology for communication and collaboration to “shorten” the distances between schools—Atlin is 670 km from Dease Lake (School District 87 (Stikine) 2015a). When I met with Superintendent Mike Gordon at Atlin School, March 5, 2015, he talked about the challenges of supporting students to complete Grade 12. Most students from Atlin and others in  24 School District 87 relocate to complete high school graduation programs in Whitehorse and other communities. School District 87 currently purchases educational services for students from Atlin for Grades 10-12 from Yukon Schools in Whitehorse, Yukon.21  Despite the geographic challenges, there are many positive aspects in the small school settings in SD87. For example, class sizes in SD87 are smaller than average with a district pupil to teacher ratio of ten students for every one teacher (School District 87 (Stikine) 2015a). Evidence of the above statement is obvious whenever I visit at Atlin School. When I visited in Spring 2015, Principal Michael Basran was out on the field playing soccer with the entire school population everyday. Whenever Superintendent Mike Gordon was in Atlin during my visits there, he too could be seen on the soccer field playing soccer with students. Superintendent Mike Gordon knows all students in SD87 and many of their family members by name, a situation which must be unique in the province. Over the past four years, comments in my conversations with the teachers, principals, and the superintendent show the dedication of the members of School District 87 towards students and families.   For this doctoral research, I partnered with the superintendent for SD87, three principals22 at Atlin School (2012-2016), and the staff at Atlin School. Of the thirty students who attend Atlin School, approximately two thirds belong to the Taku River Tlingit First Nation and one third have European ancestry (School District 87 (Stikine) 2015a). The school motto is, “Yaan                                                         21 Plans are in place for students in Grade 10 to remain at Atlin School in September 2016.  22 The principals I worked with were Mr. Ron Bentley (September 2012-December 2013), Mr. Rod Lamirand, (January-June 2014), and Mr. Michael Basran (September 2014-June 2015). During the 2015/2016 school year, Superintendent Mike Gordon acted as principal of the school with four teachers sharing the Head Teacher role for equal timelines throughout the school year.  25 toosakwéin kusti, kustiteen yaa at natoosakwéin,” meaning Learn to Live, Live to Learn (School District 87 (Stikine) 2010, n.p.).23   The Atlin School building was constructed when the school population was much larger. The school building is a modern facility, which includes a gymnasium, four classrooms (one is currently a spare room), a computer lab, a home economics/science lab, a workshop, a library, a playground, a soccer field, and an outdoor skating rink. Enrolment numbers change somewhat each year, but there are three classes of approximately ten students each: K-Grade 3, Grades 4-6, and Grades 7-9. Four teachers teach at the school, one for each class and one support/music teacher. Until 2015, there has been a principal at Atlin School, who takes on the role of support teacher as well, but in the 2015-2016 school year, the superintendent was the acting principal and teaching staff rotated the role of Head Teacher for ten-week terms. The Atlin School staff also includes a part time school secretary, a teacher assistant, a culture support assistant, a custodian, and teachers on call.  What is the History of Education Services for Students in Atlin?  The current school in Atlin, B.C. was built in 1983, although the first school building in Atlin was established in 1902, just a few years after the discovery of gold (The Atlin School, 2013/2014). Many parents of current students attended the school as children. Prior to 2010, Atlin School had a larger population with more non-Indigenous students whose families had come to Atlin to work in the mining industry.24                                                          23 The school motto was created with collaboration between Atlin School staff and TRTFN to blend TRTFN traditional teachings and language with school goals (Nita Connelly, July 7, 2016, telephone conversation). Gail Jackson helped the staff with the Tlingit words. Clayton Carlick designed the logo. 24 The population of Atlin School reached as many as 120 students in the 1990’s (Nita Connelly, July 7, 2016, telephone conversation) when gold mines, such as Redfern Corporation and Adanac Moly were operating and exploring in the region. With downturns in the economy and closures of mining operations (McCarthy Tétrault Mining Practice Group 2013), after 2009  the population in Atlin School dwindled to the current population of approximately thirty students.  26 Although children of Taku River Tlingit First Nation attend school in Atlin from Kindergarten through to Grade 9, this was not always the case. From 1940 until 1975, the Roman Catholic Church operated a residential school in Lower Post. Children from the Kaska, Tahltan, and Tlingit Nations in British Columbia and Yukon Territory came to Lower Post Residential School, including children from the TRTFN (Social University 2015).25 Many of the grandparents of current students in Atlin School attended residential school in Lower Post or elsewhere. Memories of the residential school experience are still with the members of the TRTFN.26 These memories surface when parents and grandparents are planning for their children today.  Why is School District 87 (Stikine) Partnering in This Research? In January 2016, I asked Superintendent Mike Gordon to explain the benefits of partnership research for School District 87 (Stikine). Mike Gordon clarified: A role of the school district is to meet the current needs wherever possible of our students and to partner in preparing them for the rest of their lives. As such we need to be asking our partners how are we doing, what should we be doing and ask how best might we do it. The research is based on interviews with students, parents, and school staff and focused upon three topics: experiences at school, opportunities for Aboriginal culture and language at school and in the community, and relationships with others with respect to learning. The information coming from this research is a significant contribution to the strategic planning efforts of the Board of Education as it begins community consultation regarding the future of SD 87 and what it needs to do in order to best meet the needs of its families.                                                          25 Survivors of the Lower Post Residential School attended a Gathering around the Fire at Lower Post in August 2012 to heal from residential school trauma. Eight hundred survivors and family members attended four days of celebrations, workshops, speakers, and activities to wrap up the Truth and Reconciliation Commission process in the region (Forsberg, 2012). In May 2016 I travelled to Lower Post. I cannot express the confusion and sorrow I felt for people in my generation who went to school there in such an isolated location. 26 This research did not focus upon residential school experiences because of the sensitive nature of the topic and the trauma that such discussions might bring to survivors of residential schools. However as background knowledge, it is important to acknowledge that members of Taku River Tlingit First Nation did attend residential schools outside of Atlin. TRTFN is working with members with respect to healing from the experiences in residential schools and the intergenerational trauma to the community.  27 To ensure that the information collected in interviews was useful to the school district, the teachers and principal had opportunities to read and edit the interview questions prior to the interviews with participants. More description of this process is described in Chapter 3. This dissertation is the report of the partnership research between the TRTFN, SD87, and myself to query the relationships between Indigenous culture and language, sense of belonging, and student achievement. Although it is my dissertation, I feel a responsibility to my research partners to acknowledge their contributions and include them in the retelling. To that end, whenever possible, I include my partners in the following chapters as I have in this introduction. For example, I use the pronoun our rather than the singular pronoun my to describe the results of our project. The chapters in this dissertation explain the theories and methodologies for our research (Chapter 2), methods (Chapter 3), participants’ perceptions of students’ experiences at school (Chapters 4) participants’ perceptions of students’ opportunities to learn Tlingit culture and language (Chapter 5), participants’ perceptions of students’ relationships with others (Chapter 6), and conclusions (Chapter 7). However, first it is important and necessary to describe the context for this research internationally, nationally, and provincially.   The International Context for this Partnership Research Indigenous peoples worldwide are concerned about the effects of colonization, ongoing attempts by governments to use education to assimilate Indigenous peoples into dominant societies (Antone 2000; Barman, Hébert and McCaskill 1987; Battiste 2002, 2005, 2009; Castellano 2000; Jacob, Cheng, and Porter 2015), and the resulting loss of language, culture, and identity for Indigenous peoples (Antone 2000; Assembly of First Nations 2011; Battiste 2002, 2005; Castellano 2000; Jacob, Cheng, and Porter 2015; Matilipi 2012; Schreyer 2009, 2011;  28 Sleeter 2011; Smith 2005). Decades of negotiations between nation states and Indigenous peoples (United Nations, Human Rights, Office of the High Commissioner 2013) have resulted in the creation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007). The articles in the United Nations declaration are interrelated and work together to describe the rights of Indigenous peoples, however, two articles in the declaration specifically address rights to Indigenous language revitalization and education for Indigenous peoples. Article 13 refers to Indigenous languages and states: 1. Indigenous peoples have the right to revitalize, use, develop and transmit to future generations their histories, languages, oral traditions, philosophies, writing systems and literatures, and to designate and retain their own names for communities, places and persons. 2. States shall take effective measures to ensure that this right is protected and also to ensure that indigenous peoples can understand and be understood in political, legal and administrative proceedings, where necessary through the provision of interpretation or by other appropriate means. (UNDRIP 2007)  Article 14 of the declaration addresses the inclusion of Indigenous language and culture in education for Indigenous peoples: 1. Indigenous peoples have the right to establish and control their educational systems and institutions providing education in their own languages, in a manner appropriate to their cultural methods of teaching and learning. 2. Indigenous individuals, particularly children, have the right to all levels and forms of education of the State without discrimination. 3. States shall, in conjunction with indigenous peoples, take effective measures, in order for indigenous individuals, particularly children, including those living outside their communities, to have access, when possible, to an education in their own culture and provided in their own language. (UNDRIP 2007)  Clearly, the rights described in these two articles are interconnected and must be addressed by governments who are responsible for the education of their citizens. Most importantly, educators must realize the responsibility they hold to maintain these rights for the Indigenous children in their classrooms. This research aims to assist educators, scholars, and community members to  29 understand the role they might play in assisting Indigenous peoples to achieve and maintain their rights. Internationally, many Indigenous scholars write about the need for improvement to education for Indigenous students (Battiste 2005, 2009; Cherubini et al. 2010; Sleeter 2011). My review of current concerns and recommendations about education for Indigenous students from an Indigenous perspective revealed five common themes. First, there is a need for decolonization in educational institutions (Battiste 2009; Bishop 2011; Hynds and Sleeter 2011; Matilipi 2012; May and Aikman 2003; Savage and Hindle 2011; Shanley 2015; Sleeter 2011). This leads to the second theme, the need to recognize and eliminate the dominance of European knowledge and de-legitimization of Indigenous knowledge in education (Battiste 2002, 2005; Berryman 2011; Bishop 2011; Castellano, Davis, and Lahache 2000; Dei, Hall, and Rosenberg 2000; Hynds and Sleeter 2011; May and Aikman 2003; Sleeter 2011). Third, colonization and dominance of European knowledge has caused the loss of and need to revitalize Indigenous language and culture in school systems (Antone 2000); Battiste 2002, 2005; Bishop 2011; Castellano 2000; Dei, Hall, and Rosenberg 2000; Matilipi 2012; May and Aikman 2003; Savage and Hindle 2011; Sleeter 2011; Smith 2005). Fourth, Indigenous students must be prepared for self-determination (Bishop 2011; Castellano, Davis, and Lahache 2000; Fife 2005; Ngai, Karlsen Baek, and Paulgaard 2015; Hynds and Sleeter 2011; May and Aikman 2003; Shanley 2015). Bishop (2011) and Hynds and Sleeter (2011) extend this notion to include that students must have opportunities to practice self-determination in the classroom. Finally, there is a need to develop sense of belonging and relationships of trust within schools for Indigenous students (Antone 2000; Beck and Malley 1998; Kagan 1990; Kunc 1992; Stairs 1994). This research will contribute to the literature by sharing the perceptions of students, parents and teachers in one community in  30 northern British Columbia about students’ current experiences in school, opportunities to learn Indigenous culture and language, and relationships with others.  The ultimate result of assimilative practices in education, dominance of European knowledge, and marginalization of Indigenous knowledge has been the loss of Indigenous language and culture for Indigenous peoples (Antone 2000; Battiste 2002, 2005; Bishop 2011; Castellano 2000; Dei, Hall, and Rosenberg 2000; Matilipi 2012; May and Aikman 2003; Savage and Hindle 2011; Sleeter 2011; Smith 2005). A resurgence in Indigenous language revitalization and Indigenous language usage, often linked to rights to land and resources, is occurring worldwide: 1) to assert Indigenous rights (Antone 2000; Assembly of First Nations 2011; Barman, Hébert and McCaskill 1987; Battiste 2000, 2002, 2005, 2009; Castellano 2000; Ivanic 2005; Matilipi 2012; Norton 2000) and 2) to maintain Indigenous identity (Antone 2000; Assembly of First Nations 2011; Battiste 2005; Castellano 2000; Grenoble and Whaley 2006; Matilipi 2012; Schreyer 2009, 2011; Shanley 2015). For the purposes of this research the term, Indigenous identity, refers not only to the connections that Indigenous peoples have to their cultures, ancestry, and language, but also to the rights that Indigenous peoples have to land, resources, and self-determination as a result of their identity. Indigenous languages are seen as strong indicators of identity (Antone 2000; Crystal 2010; Dorais 1995; Ivanic 2005; Norton 2000; Stairs 1994), important for both linking to cultural knowledge from the past and protecting the unique cultural aspects of Indigenous peoples in the present and for the future.  Internationally, Indigenous peoples are utilizing many strategies to revitalize Indigenous languages (Assembly of First Nations 2011; Barman, Hébert and McCaskill 1987; Battiste 2000, 2002, 2005, 2009; First Peoples Cultural Council 2010, 2014; Grenoble and Whaley 2006; Hinton 2001a; Walsh 2006). In Language Vitality and Endangerment, (UNESCO 2003) the  31 UNESCO Ad Hoc Expert Group on Endangered Languages provides a summary of strategies by defining nine interconnecting factors to consider in language revitalization: 1) Intergenerational language transmission, 2) Absolute number of speakers, 3) proportion of speakers within the total population, 4) Trends in existing language domains, 5) Response to new domains and media, 6) Materials for language education and literacy 7) Governmental and institutional language policies, including official status and use, 8) community members’ attitudes towards their own language, and 9) Amount and quality of documentation. (UNESCO 2003, 17)  This list is comprehensive and many of the factors described by UNESCO are included in descriptions of language revitalization strategies by scholars with expertise in this field (Grenoble and Whaley 2006; Hinton and Hale 2001; Walsh 2006). Some Indigenous peoples and scholars (Grenoble and Whaley 2006; Hinton 2001a) provide more detailed descriptions of language revitalization strategies such as, 1) immersion programs including language nests (Cohen 2010; First Peoples Cultural Council 2010, 2014; First Peoples Cultural Council & Chief Atahm School 2014; Grenoble & Whaley 2006; Hale 2001; King 2001; Smith n.d.; McIvor 2005, 2006),27  2) language immersion houses (Dolphin 2015, Ellwand 2016, Johnson 2014, McCue 2015, Onaman Collective 2016, Rivers 2014),28 3) partial immersion or bi-lingual programs (Grenoble & Whaley 2006; Hinton 2001a; Perley 2011), 4) Indigenous language instruction as a “second ‘foreign’ language” (Grenoble & Whaley 2006, 56; Hinton 2001a), and 5) mentor-apprentice programs (First Peoples Cultural Council 2010, 2014; Grenoble & Whaley 2006; Hinton 2001b). More recently, scholars (Ager 2005; Grenoble and Whaley 2006; Haarmann 1990; O hlfearnain 2013; Perley 2011; Schreyer 2011) have suggested that planning for Indigenous language revitalization must include strategies to alter attitudes and build prestige                                                         27 Language nests are programs for young children where adults, often Elders, speak only the Indigenous language to the children. 28 In language immersion houses, room mates live together, with a mentor as a guide, speak only the Indigenous language to one another in order to learn the language at a proficiency level that is beyond beginner.  32 for the language. Descriptions of these strategies are numerous and diverse, which scholars (Grenoble and Whaley 2006; Hinton 2001a) contend is necessary for the variety of language endangerment situations in communities. However, language revitalization is most successful when “the language is used as a language of everyday communication” (Hinton 2001a, 10) and when the number of children who speak the language increases (Krauss 1992).  Despite the connections between Indigenous language revitalization and education for Indigenous children, internationally public schools have not been very involved in language and cultural revitalization for Indigenous students (Ball and McIvor 2013; Jacob, Liu, and Lee 2015). Studies from New Zealand about improvements in education for Maori students have gained international recognition for their attention to integrating Maori culture and philosophy into classrooms (Bishop et al. 2003; Bishop et al. 2009; Sleeter 2011). A main recommendation from New Zealand is to raise achievement of Maori students by building strong teacher-student relationships and by including Maori language and culture in classrooms to improve sense of belonging for Maori students (Bishop 2011). Concerns about sense of belonging for students who were at risk to graduate, recently raised by Morin (2004) and Bishop (2011) for Indigenous students, were first raised for all students in the 1990’s and articulated concisely by Beck and Malley (1998), Kunc (1992), and Kagan (1990). In reports of the Te Kotahitanga Project in New Zealand, a longitudinal study of Maori student achievement, Bishop (2011) and Penetito et al. (2011) report the importance of positive relationships with teachers for student achievement, however, the importance of relationships with others, such as peers, parents, and community members, for Indigenous students’ achievement has not been reported in the literature. This research will provide information from Indigenous and non-Indigenous students and their parents and teachers about relationships with others at school within a Canadian context.  33 To summarize the international literature about improvements to education for Indigenous peoples and planning for Indigenous language, culture, and identity revitalization, Indigenous perceptions tend to focus upon building the capacity of Indigenous communities to enhance the future for Indigenous peoples. This can be achieved by including Indigenous knowledge and epistemologies in schools, by incorporating Indigenous languages and cultures in classrooms to nurture sense of belonging and Indigenous identity, and by preparing young people for self-determination to lead their communities into the future. Nettle and Romaine, whose book, Vanishing Voices; Extinction of the World’s Languages, is often mentioned in the literature about Indigenous language revitalization, write, “The first step in the solution to any problem is to acknowledge its existence and understand its origins” (2000, 23). Hence in the next section of this chapter, I will briefly discuss the Canadian context for this research.  The Canadian Context  Indigenous peoples in Canada have negotiated for improvements to educational policy and programs for Indigenous students (Battiste 2009) since the first days of the British North America Act (1867) (Canada 1867),29 which described the roles of provincial and federal governments and established federal responsibility for “Indians, and Lands reserved for Indians” (Canada 1867, Section 91(24)). Indigenous peoples in Canada have also been repeatedly disappointed by the failure of new policies for change over past decades (Canada. Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, 1996a). Episkenew uses the term, “policies of devastation” (2009, 20), to refer to failed attempts by governments to improve conditions for Indigenous                                                         29 The British North America Act (1867) is also referred to as The Constitution Act, 1867. In 1876, The Indian Act, 1876 (Canada. 1876), was created to further describe who was Indian and who was not, as well, as all aspects of life for Indigenous peoples in Canada. The Indian Act, 1876, is still in place today, although there have been amendments since 1876.  34 peoples in Canada which exacerbate issues rather than resolving them. With respect to education, changes have occurred over the years, for example, putting an end to the residential school system in the 1990’s (Canada. TRC 2014). In 1996, the commissioners for the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples reported, “education is seen [by Aboriginal peoples] as the vehicle for both enhancing the life of the individual and enhancing collective goals” (Canada. Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples 1996a, Vol. 3, 440). Ultimately, for Indigenous peoples the goals for the education of their children—to prepare their children for the future while retaining their Indigenous identity—have been constant for many decades (National Indian Brotherhood/Assembly of First Nations 1972, Assembly of First Nations 2011). Education has been viewed in the past and is perceived by Indigenous peoples today as important for a promising future (Barman, Hébert and McCaskill 1987; Castellano, Davis, and Lahache 2000). In the following paragraphs, I briefly discuss government initiatives of the last two decades to make improvements to education for Indigenous students in Canada. In 1991 the Canadian federal government established the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples to change the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada. The commissioners for the RCAP wrote:  From the commission’s first days, we have been reminded repeatedly of the limited understanding of Aboriginal issues among non-Aboriginal Canadians and of the obstacles this presents to achieving reconciliation and a new relationship. As one intervener described it, there is a “vacuum of consciousness” among non-Aboriginal people. We would go further to suggest a pervasive lack of knowledge and perhaps even of interest. (Canada. Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples 1996b, Vol. 5, 82)   I believe that while some changes in public education have occurred in the twenty years to benefit Indigenous students since the report of the RCAP, these changes have not been substantial enough to make a difference for many Indigenous students. I do believe, however, that changes in education for Indigenous students will occur through collaboration between  35 Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples that examines the similarities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous worldviews rather than differences. Partnership research such as this collaboration with the Taku River Tlingit First Nation, School District 87 (Stikine), and UBC (Okanagan), which attempts to build upon positive comments from community members, have the potential to make changes to education for Indigenous students. In the Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, Vol. 3, Gathering Strength the commissioners emphasized the importance of changes in education to prepare Indigenous children and youth to participate in community economic life and in Canadian society (Canada. Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples 1996a). This vision for education as expressed by Indigenous peoples included developing linguistic and cultural competence, a positive identity, and, most importantly, the intellectual, spiritual, emotional, and physical development of the child using a wholistic30, Indigenous approach (Canada. Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples 1996a, Vol 3, 404). In their report, the commissioners of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples described the failure of education for Aboriginal31 students. Battiste summarized their descriptions with the statement, “seventy-three percent of First Nations students do not graduate from high school, only 9 percent of those who do graduate attend postsecondary institutions, and only 3 percent of these students graduate from institutions of higher learning” (2009, 195). Currently in Canada, while the statistics for Indigenous student achievement show improvement, Indigenous students’ graduation rates still fall behind their non-Indigenous peers. Statistics from the 2011 Statistics Canada National Household Survey (NHS)                                                         30 I have chosen to use the term, wholistic rather than holistic. Wholistic is becoming a more popular term in current literature about education for Indigenous students. Wholistic means considering mind, body, and spirit, whereas, holistic tends to refer to the whole being a sum of the parts (Canadian College of Homeopathic Medicine 2014).   31 When I am reporting statistics from the provincial and federal government, I will use the term, Aboriginal students, as is reported in the documents and I will assume that the information is collected from students who are Indian, Métis, or Inuit. This will eliminate any errors in reporting information.  36 (Canada. Statistics Canada. NHS 2011)32 report that the percentages of non-Aboriginal people in Canada with at least a high school diploma were 88.7% for adults aged 35 to 44 and 79.5% for adults aged 55-64. For Aboriginal people the percentages were 68.0% for adults aged 35 to 44 and 58.7% for adults aged 55-64. The percentages for Aboriginal adults aged 25 to 64 with at least a high school diploma are grouped for Métis at 73.6%, First Nations at 60.2%, and Inuit at 41.0% for an average of 58.3%. Furthermore, the percentage of First Nations with post secondary qualifications was 52.1% for persons without registered Indian status compared to 42.3% for persons with registered Indian status and the percentage of persons with registered Indian status with college and university qualifications living off reserve was 32.1% compared to 19.5% for those living on reserve. These statistics show little change from the 2006 census, five years previous. As we approach the twenty-year anniversary of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, it is clear that improvements in education for Indigenous peoples have occurred since 1996, however, there are still gaps between statistics for Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. Decreasing the gaps by improving education for Indigenous students ought to be a primary focus for all levels of government.   The most recent and influential document in Canada to support changes to education for Indigenous peoples is Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future; Summary of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (Canada. TRC 2015). In 2008 the Canadian government created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in response to the                                                         32 As of February 13, 2017, the most recent statistics on the Statistics Canada National Household Survey (NHS) website, which report education achievement for Indigenous peoples who live on-reserve and off-reserve is the report from 2011 entitled, The Educational Attainment of Indigenous Peoples in Canada. The available reports from the Aboriginal Peoples Survey 2016 pertain to health for Indigenous peoples. More recent reports about education compare mobility and education attainment or education and employment. The 2011 report gave the information I wanted to report for this portion of dissertation and for comparison to 2006.   37 abundance of legal cases against the government from survivors of the residential school system (Canada. TRC 2015). In their report, the commissioners explain the legacy of residential school: Residential schools are a tragic part of Canada’s history. But they cannot simply be consigned to history. The legacy from the schools and the political and legal policies and mechanisms surrounding their history continue to this day. This is reflected in the significant educational, income, health, and social disparities between Aboriginal people and other Canadians. It is reflected in the intense racism some people harbour against Aboriginal people and in the systemic and other forms of discrimination Aboriginal people regularly experience in this country. It is reflected too in the critically endangered status of most Aboriginal languages. (Canada. TRC 2015, 183)  Cultural genocide, is the term used by the commissioners to describe the practices and policies that the federal government implemented to destroy the social and political institutions, seize land, transfer and restrict movement of populations, ban languages, prohibit spiritual practices, and disrupt families “to prevent the transmission of cultural values and identity from one generation to the next” (Canada. TRC 2015, 1). The commissioners of the TRC open the summary of the final report with the words:  For over a century, the central goals of Canada’s Aboriginal policy were to eliminate Aboriginal governments; ignore Aboriginal rights; terminate the Treaties; and, through a process of assimilation, cause Aboriginal peoples to cease to exist as distinct legal, social, cultural, religious, and racial entities in Canada. (Canada. TRC 2015, 1)  The commissioners emphasize that all Canadians must understand the legacy of residential schools and the responsibility of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples to work together for reconciliation. At the same time the commissioners write, “We are not there yet. The relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples is not a mutually respectful one” (Canada. TRC 2015, 7). The commissioners explain that reconciliation is about building and sustaining a mutually respectful relationship with one another by becoming aware of the past, acknowledging the harms that have been done, atoning for the causes, and taking action to change behaviours (Canada. TRC 2015). They emphasize that healing from this tragic part of our history is not only  38 for Aboriginal peoples, but for all Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples in Canada and that it is “not about ‘closing a sad chapter of Canada’s past’, but about opening new healing pathways of reconciliation that are forged in truth and justice” (12). In Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future: Summary of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission the commissioners acknowledge that this is not the first time that an attempt has been made by Canada to reconcile relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples. With respect to the Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples the commissioners of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission write, “Much of what the Royal Commission had to say has been ignored by government; a majority of its recommendations were never implemented” (Canada. TRC 2015, 7). Suggesting that Canada’s reputation as a “prosperous, just, and inclusive democracy” in the global world is at stake, the commissioners refer to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada as a “rare second chance to seize a lost opportunity for reconciliation” (7). To be successful at reconciliation in this attempt, the summary of the final report of the TRC includes ninety-four “Calls to Action” which clearly articulate action plans for governments and citizens of Canada.  The Calls to Action for education, language and culture, and education for reconciliation, listed in Appendix A, are action plans to implement the rights for language revitalization and education described in the UNDRIP (2007). In the following three paragraphs, I summarize the Calls to Action for each of the three topics. In the summary of the final report of the TRC, Calls to Action numbers 13 through 17 for language and culture revitalization include acknowledging that Aboriginal rights includes language rights, enacting an Aboriginal Languages Act in Canada, appointing an Aboriginal Languages Commissioner, creating Aboriginal language degrees and diploma programs at  39 universities and colleges, and enabling residential school survivors to reclaim names which were taken away in the residential school system (Canada 2015) .  Calls to Action numbers 6 through 10 for education summon the federal government to provide for education programs administered by both First Nations and by provincial and territorial governments. The Calls to Action recommend that the government of Canada to repeal Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada which describes punishments for students, to eliminate the educational and employment gaps between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples in Canada, to eliminate discrepancies between funding for education on and off reserves, to publish reports (annually) which compare education funding, educational achievement, and income attainments of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians, to “end the backlog of First Nations” (Canada. TRC 2015, 151) seeking post secondary education, and to draft new legislation for Aboriginal education. New legislation would address provision of sufficient funding to close gaps in educational achievement within one generation, improvements in educational attainment and success rates, development of “culturally appropriate curricula” (Canada. TRC 2015, 149), protection of the rights to Aboriginal language instruction, increase in parental and community involvement commiserate with what parents experience in the public school system to enable parents to participate fully in their children’s education, and respect for Treaty relationships. Finally, Calls to Action for education call upon all levels of government (federal, provincial, territorial, and Aboriginal) to develop early childhood programs with culturally appropriate programs.  Calls to Action numbers 62 through 65 for education for reconciliation are addressed to federal, provincial, and territorial governments. In consultation with Aboriginal peoples, survivors, and educators, all levels of government are called to: 1) create mandatory curriculum  40 for all grades to teach about residential schools, treaties, and the historical and current contributions of Aboriginal peoples to Canada, 2) provide funding to teacher training programs to educate teachers in Indigenous knowledge and in ways to integrate Indigenous teaching methods into classrooms, 3) provide funding for schools to integrate Indigenous knowledge and ways of teaching, and 4) establish positions in government for senior administrators who are responsible for Aboriginal content in curriculum. As well, all levels of government are asked to ensure that public funds are available to denominational schools to teach comparative religious studies which are developed in consultation with Elders and include teachings about spiritual beliefs and practices. In addition to creating Kindergarten to Grade Twelve curriculum and resources, the Council of Ministers of Education is called upon to share information and best practices as they develop curriculum, to build empathy, mutual respect, and understanding of all cultures with all students, and to identify teacher training needs with respect to the above Calls to Action. Finally, the summary of the final report of the TRC calls upon the federal government, through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, to establish a national research program to increase understanding of reconciliation.  Whether or not governments implement the Calls to Action described in the summary of the final report of the TRC remains to be seen. What is apparent from the list above, however, is that appropriate suggestions are in place for collaborations between governments and Aboriginal peoples and administrative structures to support improvements to education for Indigenous students in Canada. Whenever change is implemented, evidence of the success of the change must lie with the people who are affected most. In the case of education, evidence of change will be improvements in educational and employment gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada.  41 For language revitalization, one would expect to see improvements to programs for language instruction and increases in the numbers of speakers of Indigenous languages. There is a long chain of changes which need to occur from federal policies to provincial and territorial policies, to district policies and practices, to school policies and practice, to classroom policies and practices, before students and parents might witness changes in education for Indigenous students. As we move forward in the journey to reconciliation, the descriptions of what is currently in place in one province for one First Nation, i.e. the Taku River Tlingit First Nation, presented in this research can serve as a reference point for measuring progress towards reconciliation. Before presenting our research, the next paragraphs provide more context by describing the current focus for education for Indigenous students in British Columbia.   The Context in British Columbia In British Columbia, the Ministry of Education publishes an annual report called the How are We Doing Report? to compare demographic and assessment statistics for Indigenous and non-Indigenous students (British Columbia Ministry of Education, Aboriginal Education, 2016c). In 2015, the website for the How Are We Doing Report? stated that the report, “provides a mechanism for the Ministry of Education, Aboriginal communities and school districts to open dialogue and make recommendations for improving the educational outcomes for Aboriginal students” (B.C. Ministry of Education, Aboriginal Education, 2015, n.p.). In the most recent report, the six-year completion rate for secondary school programs (graduation rate) for Indigenous students is listed as 63% compared to 86% completion rates for non-Indigenous peers (B.C. Ministry of Education, Aboriginal Education, 2016b). There has been an increase in achievement for both groups of students in the past five years with Indigenous students’ graduation rates increasing from 52% to 63% and rates for non-Indigenous students changing  42 from 83% to 86%. In 1999, to address the achievement statistics for Indigenous students, which were much lower at the time, the B.C. Ministry of Education signed a memorandum of understanding with the federal Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs and the President of the BC Teachers’ Federation. Soon after, the Ministry of Education in British Columbia recommended that all school districts in the province create Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreements (British Columbia Ministry of Education, Aboriginal Education, 2016a). Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreements are agreements that are created collaboratively with school districts and the local Aboriginal communities they serve to establish goals and action plans to enhance education for Indigenous students. The agreements are reviewed annually and renewed every five years. Aboriginal Education Enhancement agreements include components that look promising to effect changes in education for Indigenous students.33  During the past five years, I have read a sampling of ten enhancement agreements at least annually and have noted changes, which I would call improvements in the goals and indicators of success. In 2011, my first sample of ten agreements showed a heavy emphasis upon goals for academic achievement measured by scores on district and provincial assessments. Many districts had goals to improve sense of belonging for Indigenous students, but often there were no indicators of success named or the indicators were stated as improved attendance and/or number of suspensions from the principal’s office. I have observed an increase in the number of goals for improving sense of identity and belonging where now in a sampling of ten enhancement agreements, all school districts have a goal of that nature. The indicators of success for these goals are usually stated as comments from students on district or provincial satisfaction surveys,                                                         33 The British Columbia Ministry of Education regularly updates websites. As recently as February 11, 2017, I checked all citations and bibliographic entries to ensure that the statistics reported in this document are as up to date as possible.  43 numbers of students who successfully complete B.C. First Nations 12 and English First Peoples 10, and attendance records for Aboriginal students. However, I still see Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreements, for example the AEEA for School District 33 (Chilliwack), which list the number of suspensions from the principal’s office as an indictor of Indigenous students’ sense of belonging (British Columbia Ministry of Education, Aboriginal Education 2016a). School districts and their Indigenous partners are challenged to find measurable indicators of success for this goal.34 Some districts have named more wholistic measures of success, such as increased recognition of Indigenous students’ leadership and participation in all experiences of school; however, it is obvious to me that European thinking about education still has influence over the goals and measures of success in Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreements. White et al. write “Though most districts with an AEEA have engaged in local inquiry projects regarding different aspects of the agreements, our research team was unable to find any published academic studies on the subject” (2012, 43). In the past decade, studies have been commissioned by the British Columbia Ministry of Education to review achievement scores for Indigenous students in British Columbia (Morin 2004) and policies and practices in schools with respect to progress in achievement for Indigenous students (Bell et al. 2004). While the recommendations by Bell et al. for achievement measurements rely heavily upon European methods, such as, standardized testing, Bell et al. do advise that performance measurements ought to include the development of “holistic measures appropriate to Aboriginal programs” (2004, 324). As well, Bell et al. recommend fostering environments that are culturally appropriate for Aboriginal students, help families to feel welcome, and create partnerships and                                                         34 In 2014/2015, I worked as vice-chairperson of the School District 22 Aboriginal Education Working Group. I am familiar with the process of community engagement for creating the agreements. Our working group reviewed many enhancement agreements from other districts to find appropriate, wholistic measures of success.  44 ownership with community members (Bell et al. 2004). Morin claims that a specific concern to be addressed is, “school barriers that prevent Aboriginal students from developing a sense of belonging in the school setting” (2004, 197). She concludes her report with the comment, “We cannot be satisfied with the results as they are now, as there is still much work to be done. These initiatives and attention to research issues must continue in order for Aboriginal students to have sustained, successful achievement in British Columbia’s education system” (Morin 2004, 205). Bell et al. (2004), Morin (2004), and White et al. (2012) support the need for research such as this study which demonstrates partnership with Indigenous peoples to understand the importance of Indigenous language and culture in classrooms and the meaning of sense of belonging for Indigenous students.  The mandate that the Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreements be created in consultation with local Indigenous peoples creates hope that the agreements will be successful in improving education for Indigenous students. As indicated in the discussion of changes above, I believe that the consultative process is making a difference, i.e. there is evidence of less emphasis upon academic achievement and more emphasis on wholistic approaches for goal statements in more recent enhancement agreements. However, in my reading of many agreements, I have noticed that few enhancement agreements include Indigenous worldviews, Indigenous epistemologies, and Indigenous knowledge as foundations for the goal statements, strategies, and assessments. While some goals include opportunities to learn about Indigenous languages, cultures, traditions, and histories, the recommended actions and indicators of successful goal attainment in the agreements often rely upon European worldviews and frameworks for implementation. For example, many enhancement agreements have goals to improve academic success, which list students’ scores on standardized tests for reading and  45 writing as indicators of success. Battiste provides a reason for the inclusion of goals to improve English proficiency. She states, “many Aboriginal people have been led to believe that learning English to the exclusion of their Aboriginal languages and other assimilative practices will be their only path to success” (2009, 202). Many Indigenous scholars (Archibald 1995; Battiste 2002, 2005; Cajete, 1994; Castellano 2000; Castellano, Davis, and Lahache 2000; Deloria 1999a) advocate that educational goals be derived from Indigenous worldviews and be more wholistic to address learning that occurs over a lifetime. Our research hopes to bridge the gap between European and Indigenous approaches to education by: 1) working in partnership with Indigenous peoples throughout the research process and 2) by asking participants open ended questions about students’ experiences at school, opportunities to learn Indigenous culture and language, and relationships with others.  I believe that the absence of reference to Indigenous worldviews, Indigenous epistemologies, and Indigenous knowledge is a critical flaw in the Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreements. An underlying question for my research is “will the strategies in the Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreements promote change for Indigenous students or will this new initiative join the list of ‘policies of devastation’ (Episkenew 2009, 20) that have failed Canada’s Indigenous peoples?” For decades, provincial and federal governments have introduced measures to improve education for Indigenous students, often unknowingly perpetuating colonization in the process. Notable scholars, Linda Tuhiwai Smith and Marie Battiste claim that in order to decolonize education, theories of knowing and difference must be explained not only from a European perspective but from an Indigenous worldview, as well. A key to the success of Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreements will be the inclusion of Indigenous worldview, epistemologies, knowledge, and values in the goal statements, strategies,  46 and assessments of learning that are proposed. School districts and their Aboriginal partners must be vigilant about recognizing colonized thinking in the enhancement agreements. This will likely require that district employees and Indigenous people partner to increase opportunities for cross cultural training for educators and community members.  More recent Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreements include more goals to increase opportunities to learn Indigenous language and culture and to improve sense of belonging and are more in line with Indigenous peoples’ goals for education for their children. Making improvements to education for Indigenous students is not only about raising achievement statistics, it is also about transforming the experiences of Indigenous students in schools from one of assimilation to opportunities to practice Indigenous language and culture in environments that are not dominated by European philosophies and pedagogies. Raising achievement scores for Indigenous students is not only about improving graduation rates; it is about assisting students to have a strong identity and skills for self-determination to build capacity in Indigenous communities (Battiste 2005, 2009; May and Aiken 2003).  Summary of the Introduction  When I began a research partnership with the Taku River Tlingit First Nation and School District 87 (Stikine), I thought that our study would provide useful information for school districts and the British Columbia Ministry of Education with respect to Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreements. As I worked with the TRTFN and SD87, I began to recognize how our research was connected to the articles in the United Nation Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007). During most of our partnership the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was gathering information across Canada and the results of the TRC had not yet been published. As I was writing this dissertation, the commissioners released Honouring the  47 Truth, Reconciling for the Future; Summary of the Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (Canada. TRC 2015). I see connections between the Calls to Action in the report and the goals of this research, to partner to improve education for Indigenous students. When I read statements in the summary of the final report of the TRC about the lack of knowledge and empathy of many non-Indigenous citizens for Indigenous citizens of Canada, I feel that my comments at the beginning of this chapter regarding lack of knowledge among educators are affirmed. Educators need more understanding of the needs of Indigenous students. This research aims to increase educators, scholars, and community members understanding of the ways in which Indigenous language and culture and sense of belonging assist Indigenous students to be successful in school and ultimately in life. With increased understanding, educators, scholars, and community members can assist Indigenous peoples to attain the rights of Indigenous peoples for education and language revitalization described in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  In this introductory chapter, I have described the topic for this research, who was involved, and why the research is important. In the next two chapters I explain how the research was conducted and where and when it occurred.      48 Chapter 2 The Evolution of a Métis Methodology  “Respectful, reciprocal, genuine relationships lie at the heart of community life and community development” (Smith 2012, 125).  “The concepts or ideas are not as important as the relationships that went into forming them“ (Wilson 2008, 74).  My journey in graduate school has been a process of personal and professional growth, which has influenced the formation of a methodology for partnership research. First, I learned, and am still learning, to recognize, acknowledge, and transform colonized thinking in my professional practice and in many aspects of my life. Second, in order to indigenize my research, I wanted to learn more about the interconnections between Indigenous worldviews, Indigenous epistemologies, Indigenous knowledge, and Indigenous methodologies. This new learning about Indigenous ways caused some consternation when I understood what I needed to do, but was uncertain about how I could accomplish the work. An epiphany occurred for me when I read about designing and implementing research “in a good way” (Kovach 2009, 141; Lavallee 2009, 27; Restoule et al. 2010, 3) and “with a good heart” (Wilson 1995, 69). My epiphany led me to a third stage for my research design, which was to follow an Indigenous paradigm for the research, a methodology that would be true to “all my relations” (Wilson 2001, 177). I wanted my research methodology to be one that attended to “all my relations”, i.e. one that honoured my Métis ancestors and the people I would be working with during the research. Not only had I read the phrase, “all my relations” in academic writing by Belanger (2014), Deloria (1999a), and Wilson (2001) but also at every Métis meeting I have attended, the meetings begin and end by joining hands and saying the words, “all my relations.” Finally, as I learned more about my Métis ancestry, I wanted to ensure that I was conducting the research “with my ancestors walking beside me” (McIvor 2010, 138). I felt that if I attended to “all my relations” during the research,  49 the teachings of my Métis ancestors would be coming back to me. I would be learning through the spirit of my Métis grandmother. Eventually this led to the notion of creating a Métis methodology for partnership research. In this chapter I describe this evolution of a Métis methodology in more detail. I have chosen the word, evolution, to describe the Métis methodology used in this research, because the idea for a Métis methodology did not come to me all at once. Rather, the development of a Métis methodology was created through the process of the research as I reflected upon the unique ways that the research methodologies were following principles from Indigenous methodologies. In this chapter I describe the stages of development that occurred to create a methodology, which I would attribute to Métis epistemologies and worldview and would now call, a Métis methodology.  Decolonizing My Thinking about Education  Throughout my graduate school experience, I became more and more sensitized to recognizing colonized thinking and practice in the public and post secondary education systems and, really, in many aspects of Canadian lifestyle. In 2015, at a guest presentation at UBC Okanagan, I listened to Shawn Wilson speak about the difference between decolonizing and indigenizing. Wilson clarified that decolonizing is reaction to colonization whereas indigenizing is empowering Indigenous peoples to revive their philosophies (Dr. Shawn Wilson, October 15, 2015, guest lecture). Shawn Wilson stated that he preferred the term, indigenizing, however he did admit that in some cases decolonizing is necessary and in my case I believe this to be true. First, I needed to decolonize my thinking about education and then, I could begin to indigenize my research by creating a methodology that would not perpetuate colonization.   50 In Chapter 1, I included discussions of the need to decolonize education systems. However, before continuing, I would like to share an example from my personal experience of the subtle ways that the public education system remains colonized and perpetuates colonization. Early in my graduate studies, with the help of my supervisor, Dr. Christine Schreyer, and my committee members, Dr. Tamez and Dr. Cherkowski, I began to notice that my vocabulary included colonized language. For example, as noted in Chapter 1, as a teacher and administrator in the public education system, it is common to say, “my students” because educators care about the children they teach. However, Dr. Schreyer pointed out to me that the phrases, “our students”, and particularly, “our Aboriginal students” can sound very patronizing, alerting me to the paternalistic nature of our education systems. My graduate school journey has taught me to be watchful for hidden examples of colonized “talk” in conversations, particularly in the field of education. Decolonization of my thinking began in my first coursework in Indigenous studies and continued throughout my graduate school journey as I learned about Indigenous worldviews, Indigenous epistemologies, Indigenous knowledge, and Indigenous methodologies in preparation for my fieldwork.   Indigenous Worldview, Indigenous Knowledge, Indigenous Epistemologies, and Indigenous Methodologies  In virtually every book or article I have read, Indigenous scholars emphasize the importance of understanding Indigenous methodologies within the context of Indigenous knowledge, Indigenous epistemologies, and/or Indigenous worldview. Some Indigenous scholars (Bishop et al. 2002, France 1997) use the term, Indigenous worldview, some (Botha 2011; Chilisa 2012; Kovach 2009; Lavallee 2009; Wilson 2001) use Indigenous epistemologies, others  51 (Battiste 2008; Styres 2008; Weber-Pillwax 1999, 2004; Wilson 2001) prefer Indigenous knowledge, and others use all three terms (Absolon and Willett 2005; Deloria 1999a, 1999b; Cardinal 2001; Hart 2010; Smith 2012; Wilson 2003). Although many scholars write about the connections between Indigenous methodologies and Indigenous worldview, Indigenous knowledge, or Indigenous epistemology, nowhere in the literature have I found an explanation of the interrelationships between all four of these concepts. To make sense of the terminology, both for myself and other researchers who utilize Indigenous methodologies, I believe it is important to sort through the meanings and relationships between Indigenous worldview, Indigenous knowledge, Indigenous epistemology, and Indigenous methodologies. Shawn Wilson provides a starting point for this discussion. In Research is Ceremony (2008), Shawn Wilson describes the many relationships a researcher will establish during the research process, including not only relations with people, but also relations with the environment/land, relations with the cosmos, and relations with ideas. Wilson clarifies this concept with the example that the translation for couch in Cree is “someplace where you sit” (2001, 177), i.e. the object is named by how one is related to it. He offers that this relational thinking extends to ideas and concepts and emphasizes that it is important for researchers to think about and explain the interrelationships between ideas, including our own relationships with the ideas and concepts we share. Wilson’s elaboration about interconnected abstract concepts in research inspired me to describe Indigenous methodologies in relation to Indigenous worldview, Indigenous knowledge, and Indigenous epistemologies. In the next section I will attempt to explain each of these topics and then provide a model to describe the relationships between the four.   52 Indigenous Worldview Hart explains the concept of worldview very succinctly in the following quote: Worldviews are cognitive, perceptual, and affective maps that people continuously use to make sense of the social landscape and to find their ways to whatever goals they seek. They are developed throughout a person’s lifetime through socialization and social interaction. They are encompassing and pervasive in adherence and influence. Yet they are usually unconsciously and uncritically taken for granted as the way things are. (2010, 2)  Battiste (2008), France (1997), and Kovach (2009) remind us that among Indigenous peoples there are diverse nations (France 1997, Kovach 2009) with unique worldviews. However, there are commonalities in the perspectives of Indigenous peoples (Battiste 2008, Hart 2010), hence, we can attempt to define Indigenous worldview.  My review of the literature about Indigenous worldview revealed five common themes or principles of Indigenous worldview: relationships, respect, community, spirit, and renewal. Indigenous scholars write that an Indigenous worldview is influenced by the central principle that human beings have a close relationship with the earth and with all entities on the earth (Armstrong 2007, Cardinal 2001, Deloria 1999a, France 1997, Steinhauer 2002, Weber-Pillwax 1999, Wilson 2003). Land is a part of each human being (Armstrong 2007, France 1997). The essence of this relationship leads to a second principle of Indigenous worldview, that all entities on earth must respect one another (Armstrong 2007, Deloria 1999a, France 1997, Steinhauer 2002, Weber-Pillwax 1999, Wilson 2003). Honore France describes relationships and respect as:  …the most fundamental belief of all First Nations people of North America. The idea that all living things are related—brothers and sisters. The philosophical essence of this idea can be expressed in one word—respect. Respect for the land, respect for the animals, respect for the plants, respect for other people and finally, respect for the self. This is the essential ingredient for living life. (1997, 4)  A third principle of Indigenous worldview is sense of community (Deloria 1999a, France 1997, Hart 2010). Since every entity on earth is related, all are kin, and all must live together in  53 harmony. Fourth, in an Indigenous worldview, every entity on earth has a spirit, which in the case of human beings influences the health of individuals and the community (France 1997, McIvor 2010). The fifth and final principle of Indigenous worldview is renewal. When all the entities on earth engage in the process of renewal, sustainability is achieved (Armstrong 2007, Chilisa 2012, Kovach 2009, Styres 2008). This summary of common themes in the literature is brief, however my extensive review of literature about Indigenous worldviews reveals that these are the principles mentioned most often. I call these five themes the principles of Indigenous worldview. Researchers who wish to be successful in their research with Indigenous peoples must not only acknowledge these principles of Indigenous worldview, but also act with these principles in mind as they plan their research design (France 1997). Thus, the principles of an Indigenous worldview become the principles of Indigenous methodologies. This is a crucial point. If we assume that research is conducted to attain new knowledge, then it makes sense that research that is created to benefit Indigenous peoples ought to attend to Indigenous worldviews. Conversely, new knowledge to benefit Indigenous peoples that is generated without attending to Indigenous worldviews ought to be considered illegitimate. The principles of an Indigenous worldview will be described in more detail and in relation to this partnership research in the section of this chapter entitled, Principles of Indigenous Methodologies. For now, I wish to describe Indigenous knowledge and Indigenous epistemologies to proceed with my explanation of the relationships between worldviews, epistemologies, and the creation of new knowledge through Indigenous methodologies.    54 Indigenous Knowledge and Indigenous Epistemologies From an Indigenous perspective, knowledge and the ways that the knowledge is acquired cannot be separated (Battiste 2008; Kovach 2009). As well, Battiste explains that Indigenous knowledge systems must be understood from an Indigenous perspective: Indigenous knowledge needs to be learned and understood and interpreted based on form and manifestation as understood by Indigenous peoples. Indigenous Knowledge must be understood from an Indigenous perspective using Indigenous language; it cannot be understood from the perspective of Eurocentric knowledge and discourse (2008, 505).  Rather than defining Indigenous knowledge with European terminology, Indigenous scholars describe Indigenous knowledge in terms of the ways in which knowledge is shared (Battiste 2008, Castellano 2000, Hart 2010). Hart (2010) claims that Indigenous knowledge is closely related to Indigenous worldview, however, Indigenous knowledge tends to refer more to the ways that Indigenous people transmit their worldviews, through oral stories, experiential learning, and going out on the land. Castellano clarifies that Indigenous knowledge is derived from traditional teachings handed down by Elders, empirical observations through the senses, and revelations such as “dreams, visions, and intuitions that are understood to be spiritual in origin” (2000, 24). Battiste (2008) explains that Indigenous knowledge is passed on from generation to generation through oral language, ceremonies, and traditions emphasizing that Indigenous knowledge is a collective knowledge with no single author and no single mode of knowledge production. Learning through wholistic ways, such as oral stories, experiential learning, empirical observations through the senses, and attending to dreams and intuitions to my mind distinguishes Indigenous knowledge production from European knowledge production. Indigenous peoples’ epistemologies or “how they think, and how this affects how things are in their world” (Wilson 2001, 175) are also closely connected to Indigenous knowledge and Indigenous worldview. Battiste writes:  55 Indigenous people’s epistemology is derived from the immediate ecology; from peoples’ experiences, perceptions, thoughts, and memory, including experiences shared with others; and from the spiritual world discovered in dreams, visions, inspirations, and signs interpreted with the guidance of healers or elders. (2008, 499)  Indigenous scholars (Belanger 2014, Deloria 1999a, Wilson 2001) explain Indigenous epistemologies using the phrase “all my relations”, which provides “the methodological basis for the gathering of information about the world” (Deloria 1999a, 53). Battiste (2008) clarifies that Indigenous knowledge and Indigenous epistemologies are acquired through maintaining kinship relationships with all entities in the environment and in the spirit world. When I was first learning about Indigenous knowledge and epistemologies in preparation for my fieldwork, I was beginning to recognize the importance of the phrase, “all my relations.” I had not yet thought of the idea of a Métis methodology. However as I continued my journey through graduate school and my journey of learning more about my Métis heritage, the phrase, “all my relations” began to take on new significance for me. “All my relations” was becoming a mantra to guide my research.  The Interconnections between Indigenous Worldview, Indigenous Methodologies, Indigenous Knowledge, and Indigenous Epistemologies  Indigenous scholars write that Indigenous methodologies must be connected to Indigenous worldviews, Indigenous knowledge, or Indigenous epistemologies. Indigenous methodologies are linked to Indigenous worldview (Absolon and Willett 2005, Bishop et al.2002, Cardinal 2001, France 1997, Hart 2010, Smith 2012, Wilson 2003), to Indigenous knowledge (Absolon and Willett 2005; Cardinal 2001; Hart 2010; Smith 2012; Styres 2008; Weber-Pillwax 1999, 2004; Wilson 2001, 2003) and to Indigenous epistemologies (Botha 2011, Chilisa 2012; Kovach 2009; Wilson 2001). In order to make sense of the interconnections between Indigenous worldview, Indigenous epistemologies, Indigenous knowledge, and Indigenous methodologies, I  56 expanded upon the work of Hart (2010) to fashion a model for Indigenous knowledge production, (see Figure 2.1 Indigenous Knowledge Production). Figure 2.1 illustrates my theoretical framework for the interconnectedness between these four concepts.     Figure 2.1 Indigenous Knowledge Production    In this theoretical framework, Indigenous worldviews influence decisions about Indigenous research methodologies. Indigenous methodologies produce legitimate Indigenous knowledge. Indigenous ways of knowing or epistemologies about Indigenous knowledge in turn influence Indigenous worldviews. The model is cyclical to reflect the ongoing production of Indigenous knowledge. When Indigenous worldviews, Indigenous methodologies, and Indigenous knowledge and epistemologies are synchronized Indigenous people are honored and treated in a respectful way. Then, and only then, will research with Indigenous people be conducted “in a good way” (Kovach 2009, 141; Lavallee 2009, 27; Restoule et al.2010, 3), “with a good heart” (Wilson 1995, 61), while attending to “all my relations” (Wilson 2001, 177). When European worldviews, European methodologies, or European knowledge/epistemologies infiltrate into the Indigenous  WorldviewIndigenous  MethodologiesIndigenous  KnowledgeIndigenous Epistemologies 57 cycle, connections are interrupted or even broken, jeopardizing the production of Indigenous knowledge and even the Indigenous people.  My theoretical framework for Indigenous Knowledge Production guided decisions about a methodology for partnership research with the Taku River Tlingit First Nation, School District 87 (Stikine) and myself. A methodology that attended to principles of relationships with others and respect for one another would create new knowledge that was consistent with Indigenous worldviews. My belief was that knowledge, created authentically with emphasis upon relationships, would produce new Indigenous knowledge and epistemologies that were valid for Indigenous communities. I hoped that focusing upon building and maintaining relationships throughout the research process would create a model for future working relationships between TRTFN and SD87 long after my partnership work with them was completed. Understanding the relationships between Indigenous worldview, Indigenous methodologies, Indigenous knowledge and Indigenous Epistemologies helped me to make decisions about the importance of relationships in my methodology. I was not confident about coming into a community as an outsider to partner for research. I had read that research in an Indigenous community ought to be conducted by Indigenous peoples (Absolon and Willett 2005, Battiste and Henderson 2000, Smith 1999) and by researchers who are from that community so that they have an understanding of the specific worldviews of the people (Absolon and Willett 2005).35 Attending to building relationships with my research partners with a focus of learning                                                         35 This discovery was disconcerting to me and in 2013 I wrote the following reflection in my first comprehensive paper:  Am I an Indigenous or a non-Indigenous researcher? Yes, I have Aboriginal status in Canada as Métis; however, I was not raised within a Métis community or within a traditional Métis culture. On the other hand, scholars who write about cellular memory (Wilson 1995, Wilson 2003) or blood memory, “meaning that the experiences of those that have gone before us is embedded in our physical and psychological being” (Younging, 2009), give me reason to believe that I have credibility as an Indigenous researcher. As well, Cardinal gives me comfort when he asserts, “I think as human beings we have a deep connection to our Indigenous roots” (2001, 182). Even though, I did not grow up with a strong connection to my Métis roots,  58 about their worldviews gave me a tool to conduct research “in a good way.” If the research partners focused upon maintaining positive relationships and respected one another’s worldviews, then the research project would be successful. Reflecting back, at the time when I was making connections between Indigenous worldviews, Indigenous methodologies, Indigenous knowledge, and Indigenous epistemologies, I had not yet thought of the idea of a Métis methodology. However, I did feel a connection to my Métis ancestors, who formed relationships through marriage partnerships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples many years ago, and I wanted to create a methodology that honoured my ancestor’s ways. I began to believe that I was on the right track to forming an appropriate methodology and my confidence in my methodology was growing.  My second epiphany came when I read Indigenous scholars (Hart 2010; Kovach 2009; Wilson 2007), particularly Shawn Wilson, who claimed that researchers using Indigenous methodologies must follow an Indigenist research paradigm.  Indigenist Research Paradigm Indigenous scholars discuss the importance of using a research paradigm (Wilson 2007) or conceptual framework (Hart 2010, Kovach 2009), which is congruent with Indigenous rather than European thought processes to frame how a research question will be investigated. Wilson (2001) gives an initial explanation of a paradigm as a set of beliefs that guide the research. He                                                         the experiences of mental health issues in my assimilated Métis family mirror the story of many Métis families in Canada. I am confident that my own memories and experiences of assimilation within my family give me an understanding of the importance of identity formation for children. As well, as a mother of two severely disabled children with cerebral palsy and developmental delays, I understand the sting of exclusion and marginalization. I believe that my ancestry and my life experiences, together with my new understanding about Indigenous methodologies bring me the credibility I seek to investigate sense of belonging for Aboriginal students.   59 and Kovach (2009) elaborate that the researcher’s belief about the world and gaining knowledge will, and must, guide his or her actions during the research. Wilson states, “Paradigms shape our view of the world around us and how we walk through that world. All research reflects the paradigm used by the researcher whether that researcher is conscious of the usage or not” (2003, 161). Wilson asserts: It is not sufficient for researchers just to say they are Aboriginal and therefore using an Indigenist paradigm. We must explain the paradigm clearly so that we can make sure that good work is being done. For me it is a part of my relational accountability to ensure that research conducted in the name of an Indigenist paradigm lives up to the title. (2007, 194)  Wilson distinguishes between the words Indigenist and Indigenous to label the paradigm. He explains that an Indigenist paradigm can and ought to be used by anyone who wishes to follow Indigenous principles for research. He contends that an Indigenist paradigm “cannot and should not be claimed to belong only to people with ‘Aboriginal’ heritage” (2007,194) and suggests that non-Indigenous and Indigenous scholars can choose to use European or Indigenist paradigms, but “it is the use of an Indigenist paradigm that creates Indigenous knowledge” (2007, 194).  My understanding of an Indigenist research paradigm was enlightened further by Kovach (2009) who states that methodology encompasses both Indigenous knowledge and Indigenous methodology and that the purpose of an “Indigenous conceptual framework” (39) is to provide a model, which unifies the two together. The conceptual framework is a tool, which gives researchers a way of showing how their methods are in sync with particular Indigenous epistemologies (Kovach 2009). Kovach stresses that, “Researchers have the task of applying conceptual frameworks that demonstrate the theoretical and practical underpinnings of their research, and if successful, these frameworks illustrate ‘the thinking’ behind ‘the doing’”(2009, 39). In fact, Potts and Brown (2005) contend that revealing one’s conceptual framework  60 minimizes the power dynamics between researchers and research participants that occur when researchers analyze findings. Wilson asserts that a major difference between an Indigenist research paradigm and other paradigms is that other paradigms originate from a belief that knowledge belongs to an individual, generated and therefore owned by the researcher, whereas, Indigenous paradigms are built upon the belief that knowledge is relational, shared with all entities on the earth. Wilson explains: Knowledge is shared with all creation. It is not just interpersonal relationships, not just the research subjects I may be working with, but it is a relationship with all of creation. It is with the cosmos, it is with the animals, with the plants, with the earth that we share this knowledge. It goes beyond the idea of individual knowledge to the concept of relational knowledge. (2001, 177)  Wilson stresses that researchers do not have ownership of a theory or concept because knowledge belongs to a collective, i.e., is shared by the community whose ancestors passed down the knowledge through stories and visions, or who created the new knowledge through interactions with the environment. Scholars who write about Indigenous methodologies (Belcourt, Swaney, and Kelley 2015; Chilisa 2012; Hart 2010, Kovach 2009; and Lambert 2014) often refer to Shawn Wilson’s explanations of an Indigenist research paradigm and the questions researchers ought to reflect upon before conducting research. According to Wilson, the four critical questions researchers must ask as they pursue research, correspond to four important aspects of an Indigenous paradigm: …What is real? [ontology]…How do I know what is real? [epistemology]…How do I find out more about this reality [methodology]…What part of reality is worth finding out more about, and what is it ethical for me to do in order to gain this information? [axiology]. (Wilson 2003, 175)    61 These four questions about ontology, epistemology, methodology, and axiology have guided my decisions about the creation of a methodology for this research.  In fact, Shawn Wilson’s (2001, 2003,) writings unlocked for me the mystery of how I might partner in research with the Taku River Tlingit First Nation and School District 87 (Stikine) “in a good way”, which attends “to all my relations” (2001, 177). Until I read his questions about ontology, epistemology, methodology, and axiology, I had been concerned that it was inappropriate for me as an outsider to entertain the idea of initiating research with TRTFN and SD87. After reflecting upon the questions and the mantra, “Am I being true to my relations?” (Wilson 2003), I understood that I could create my Indigenist research paradigm by reflecting upon and answering the four questions above. I made the decision to synthesize ideas from an Indigenous worldview and the teachings of Shawn Wilson to design a research methodology that focused upon establishing and maintaining relationships.  My answers to Wilson’s four questions were as follows. First, the reality is that all things including ideas are interconnected and connected to the earth’s cycles therefore all the ideas we have throughout the research process and the new learning that we acquire through our project is interconnected and will be ongoing (ontology). Second, I know this from my life experiences, from the teachings of ancestors and Elders, from Indigenous peoples ways of knowing, and from my initial interactions with my research partners (epistemology). Third, establishing and maintaining relationships with my research partners, the Taku River Tlingit First Nation Education Committee and the principal and staff of Atlin School in School District 87 (Stikine), and with community members who are potential research participants is important for the creation of legitimate new knowledge about education for Indigenous students (methodology). Fourth, to learn more about ways to improve the educational experiences for Indigenous students  62 I must ask Indigenous students as well as their parents and teachers about students’ current experiences in school and about ways to enhance learning opportunities for the future. As I work in partnership with TRTFN and SD87, ethical conduct will mean looking for positives rather than negatives and similarities rather than differences between Indigenous and Eurocentric ways of knowing (axiology). Finally, to conduct the research “in a good way” (Kovach 2009, 141; Lavallee 2009, 27; Restoule 2010, 3) I must ask myself throughout the process, “Am I being true to my relations?” (Wilson 2003). When I was developing my Indigenist research paradigm, I had still not thought of developing a Métis methodology. However, the phrase, being true to all my relations was beginning to guide all my decisions about a methodology for partnership research. I decided that, first, the Taku River Tlingit First Nation and School District 87 (Stikine) would have to be partners in all steps of the research process. If I did not strive to involve my research partners is every aspect of the process, then I would run the risk of conducting research about TRTFN and SD87 instead of with TRTFN and SD87. To involve members of the TRTFN and SD87 from early discussions about the project through to the consideration of the information gathered from the Atlin community, I created two phases to the research process: Phase I (Establishing Partnerships) and Phase II (Learning from TRTFN and SD87). Originally, I had named Phase II as “Data Collection and Analysis”, however this subtitle began to sound inappropriate to me for partnership research. I did not want to sound as if I would be analyzing anyone. I changed the subtitle for Phase II to “Learning from TRTFN and SD87.” Second, I hoped that by attending to the principles from an Indigenous worldview mentioned above—relationships, respect, community, spirit, and renewal—relationships with my research partners would be sustained  63 throughout the research process and beyond. Hence I made the decision to use these five principles to develop my Indigenist research paradigm.  Applying Principles of Indigenous Methodologies to Support an Indigenist Research Paradigm  Earlier, I explained my belief that principles from Indigenous worldviews are the principles of Indigenous methodologies. In this section, I present an Indigenist research paradigm; specifically a Métis paradigm linked to the phrase “all my relations”, by describing the relationships between the five principles of Indigenous methodologies—relationships, respect, community, spirit, and renewal.  Relationships In the above discussions of an Indigenist research paradigm, I have described how the principle of relationships from Indigenous worldviews is crucial for any research with Indigenous peoples. I think of this as the first principle of Indigenous methodologies. The other principles from Indigenous worldview described earlier: respect, community, spirit, and renewal are principles, which support the first principle. Although I had not yet named my methodology, a Métis methodology, at this stage in the development of my methodology for partnership research, I knew that relationships were key. I also knew that relationships were an important aspect of Métis culture. I relied upon this idea to build a model for my Indigenist research paradigm.  As I was creating my model for an Indigenist research paradigm I looked for tools to assist with the design. In one of my graduate classes at the Summer Institute for Indigenous Studies, Dr. Margo Tamez advised participants in the course to find pillars to hold up our research (Tamez 2011). As I was developing my methodologies for research, Dr. Tamez’s advice from  64 2011 prompted me now to think of the principles of Indigenous methodologies as a home or dwelling, which provides security and safety (see Figure 2.2 Principles of Indigenous Methodologies). If the principle of relationships is the protective roof of the home, then the four principles of respect, community, spirit, and renewal become the four pillars that support relationships.         Figure 2.2 Principles of Indigenous Methodologies  As well, because the principles of Indigenous methodologies are all in themselves interconnected, adhering to the following principles of Indigenous methodologies ensures that relationships remain in tact. To explain this in another way, if the pillars are like the corner posts of a house, which holds up relationships, then all four corner posts are interrelated and must remain in tact to be supportive. The descriptions below provide theoretical foundations about ways in which these four pillars—respect, community, spirit, and renewal—guide my research methodology. RelationshipsRespect Community Spirit Renewal 65  Respect Indigenous scholars write about the Indigenous worldview of respect for all (Armstrong 2007, Belcourte, Swaney, and Kelley, 2015, Deloria 1999a, Kovach 2009; Louis 2007, Steinhauer 2002, Weber-Pillwax 1999, 2001; Wilson 2003) and how this principle transfers to a research methodology that respects all partners and participants in the research project. Cora Weber-Pillwax elaborates: Respect does not simply mean knowing and following basic rituals and practices as part of the protocols of interactions with indigenous people. It means believing and living that relationship with all forms of life, and conducting all interactions in a spirit of kindness and honesty. (1999, 9)  From the early stages of our research project, I attempted to show my respect for members of the TRTFN, staff of SD87, and members of the Atlin community at large by accepting every invitation extended to me in my visits to the Atlin community and by engaging as an active listener and participant at each event, which included meetings, celebrations, and informal gatherings. The details of these events are shared in Chapter 3 Methods. In Phase I, I wanted my actions to demonstrate respect at all times to establish authentic relationships with my research partners and participants before the actual interviews began. In addition, I wanted to sustain relationships throughout the interviews and focus group sessions, the transcribing and summarizing of the comments from community members, and the sharing of the information gathered back to the Atlin community in Phase II. One way to ensure that the methodology included the principle of respect was to incorporate an element from an appreciative inquiry approach to research (Bushe 2011), specifically a focus on the positives or what is currently going well for students in Atlin School. I learned about appreciative inquiry many years ago from my children, who taught me to look for  66 the positives in challenging situations. Of course, back then I did not know the term, appreciative inquiry, but through their laughter and smiles, my children taught me to celebrate small successes instead of dwelling upon problems. The idea to use an appreciative inquiry approach came to me as I was reading Policies of Devastation, which describes the myriad of policies created by governments since the 1800s to deal with “the Indian problem” (Episkenew 2009, 22). I was searching for ways to ensure that our research methodology did not perpetuate labeling and colonization of Indigenous peoples. Because the achievement data for Indigenous students in B.C. is lower than data for non-Indigenous students, I often worry that educators in the province may begin to think of the Indigenous students as the problem. This may sound like an assumption, but my many years experience as a teacher of children with special needs has taught me to be cautious and on guard for wording that implies that the child is the problem we are attempting to solve. The problems with education for Indigenous children is not with the children, but with the issues that arise when we try to fit a child with certain needs into a system that may not have the attributes or resources to match the child’s needs.  At the same time, in consideration of my partners in SD87, I did not want the staff at Atlin School to feel that teaching strategies at the school were under scrutiny. In an appreciative inquiry approach, care is taken to assist participants to focus discussion upon the strengths of a community and build upon those strengths (Bushe 2011), rather than getting caught in interactions that only serve to rehash issues often at the expense of others. To avoid negativity and the perpetuation of Indigenous students’ achievement or teachers’ practice as a problem, my research partners and I agreed that we would use the positive tone from an appreciative inquiry approach throughout the planning, interviews, consideration of the comments from community  67 members, and reporting of our research.36 By asking questions in the interviews about the best things that happen in school, we would focus upon positives to move forward with ways to enhance education in the future. As I was reviewing my readings to write this chapter, I noticed that both Chilisa 2012 and Kovach 2009 make a brief mention of the compatibility of appreciative inquiry as a methodology with Indigenous methodologies. Kovach explains, “(a) both approaches are relational and (b) both must show evidence of process and content” (2009, 32). Chilisa (2012) contends that appreciative inquiry is an approach, which counters deficit thinking in research, i.e. that there is a problem with the community that needs to be fixed.  Before continuing with the discussion of respect in research, I wish to share a connection between appreciative inquiry methodologies and Métis epistemologies. As I reflect back upon my idea to rely upon the strengths of students, parents, and teachers to create new understanding, I realize now that I was following Métis epistemologies. The European fur traders and Indigenous women who married in the early 1800’s created a new culture by selecting the best of two worlds. Métis culture combines European ways with Indigenous ways. Métis musicians use both drums and fiddles. Métis clothing includes functional pieces such as sashes and moccasins combined with European style shirts and jackets. These are only two examples of the many ways that Métis people built upon the strengths of two societies to create a new culture. I did not recognize the connections between appreciative inquiry and Métis epistemologies before I began interviews in Atlin. This is one of the reasons I wrote in the introduction to this chapter that my Métis methodology has evolved during the process of this research. I now see a link between Métis epistemologies and what some researchers have come to call “the third space” which can arise when two or more cultures collide (Chilisa 2012, 25; English 2005, 25). Chilisa (2012) and                                                         36 In Chapter 3 Methods I describe in detail the meetings that I had with my research partners throughout Phase I to plan for Phase II.  68 English (2005) use the term “the third space” (25), attributed to Homi Bhabha (1994) and Moquin (2007), to describe the space in between European and Indigenous research paradigms. I discuss this link further in the conclusions to this chapter, after the continued discussion of respect, community, spirit, and renewal. With regards to respect, another way to ensure that the principle of respect would be followed in our methodology was to honour the fact that respect in research extends to preserving the integrity of the researcher (McIvor 2010, Smith 2012, Weber-Pillwax 2001). Respect for everyone involved in the research means researchers must listen to the stories of members of the community as well as sharing personal information about themselves. Sinclair explains the importance of locating oneself as a researcher:  It [location] means revealing our identity to others; who we are, where we come from, our experiences that have shaped those things, and our intentions for the work we plan to do. Hence, ‘location” in Indigenous research, as in life, is a critical starting point. (Sinclair, 2003, 122)  Absolon and Willett suggest that “researchers today must be prepared to explain who they are and what interest they have in the proposed research before they are allowed to proceed” (2005, 107). Absolon and Willett (2005) give three reasons for the importance of location. First, the history of research without consent and research that exploited Indigenous peoples has created the demand from Indigenous peoples to know who is conducting the research in their communities. Second, to address concerns about non-Indigenous researchers conducting unethical research about Indigenous peoples, Absolon and Willett (2005) claim that including researcher location as a principle of Indigenous methodologies will assist Indigenous peoples in knowing “who has a vested interest in the research and who does not” (107). Third, Absolon and Willett (2005) contend that if researchers include their epistemological location before