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Street involved First Nations female adolescents’ perceptions of their futures Dolman, D. Corinne 1994-12-31

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STREET INVOLVED FIRST NATIONS FEMALEADOLESCENTS’ PERCEPTIONS OF THEIR FUTURES—,-byD. CORINNE DOLMANB.S.Sc. (hon.), The University of OttawaB.S.W.., The University of British ColumbiaA THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFMASTER OF SOCIAL WORKinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIESSchool of Social WorkWe accept is thesis as conformingto th r u d standardTHE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIAAugust 1994© D. Corinne Dolman, 1994In presenting thisthesis in partial fulfilmentof the requirementsfor an advanceddegree at the University ofBritish Columbia, I agreethat the Library shallmake itfreely available for referenceand study. I furtheragree thatpermission for extensivecopying of this thesis for scholarlypurposes may begranted by the head ofmydepartment or byhis or her representatives.It is understoodthat copying orpublication of thisthesis for financial gainshall not be allowedwithout my writtenpermission.(Signature)____________________________Department of Socc.\The University of British ColumbiaVancouver, CanadaDate 2LR’’-(DE-6 (2188)AbstractFirst Nations youth in Canada are at a disproportionate riskof being apprehended, becoming involved in the justice system,abusing substances, being unemployed and out of school and takingtheir own lives. Given the conditions faced by many First Nationsfemale adolescents, it was believed that an understanding oftheir future perceptions could provide the social work professionwith a wealth of information relevant to their service needs.This qualitative, exploratory research explored the futureoutlooks of five street involved female First Nations adolescentsliving in Vancouver. Using an interview guide, in-depthinterviews were conducted and these young women were asked todescribe different aspects of lives in the future. The interviewswere auto-taped, transcribed and then analyzed for common themes.It was found that these young women had strong apprehensionsabout ever becoming married and expressed an array of negativeexperiences with respect to relationships with men. They allanticipated being employed in the future in mainly traditionallyfemale-dominated occupations. They all had desires to furthertheir education in the future, but expressed uncertainties abouthow successfully they would be able to this.These young women also expressed enormous fears about theirfutures. They feared not making to adulthood, that drugs andalcohol would negatively effect their futures and that peopleclose to them may die. Their future outlooks, however, alsoreflected great resistances towards many destructive forces intheir lives. They had strong desires to maintain their familyconnections in the future despite revealing separation and11breakdown of their families in their present lives. They alsoexpressed longings to remain connected to their cultures androots in the future despite the losses they had experienced. Theyalso had strong desires to provide better lives for their ownchildren in the future.It is recommended that social work as a profession evaluatetheir contemporary responses to dealing with the issuesconfronting these young women. Social work practice needs toincorporate community development interventions and social actionwhich work towards altering the current inequities faced by thispopulation.Table of ContentsPageAbstract iiTable of Contents ivList of Tables viChapter One: Introduction 1Why Study Future Perceptions? 1Definition of terms 3Future Perceptions 3First Nations 4Street Involved 5Limitations of the study 6Chapter Two: Literature Review 9First Nations Youth: A Statistical Profile 9Social Services and Correctional Involvement 10Education and Employment Activities 12Suicide and Substance Abuse 12Gender-Specific Factors 13Urbanization 14Summary 16Down Through the Generations: A Historical Perspective 16Contact 17Diseases 18Settlement 19Residential Schools 20Colonization 22First Nations Cultures 25Summary 27Chapter Three: Methodology 29Description of Design 29Data Collection 30Interview Type 30Interview Procedures 32Interview Techniques 34Potential Effects on Participants 35Selecting and Recruiting Participants 36Limitations 38Data Analysis 39Credibility, Soundness and Generalizability 43Special Considerations 44ivChapter Four Findings! Results 47Description of Participants 48Table 1 49Future Perceptions of the Major Life Domains 51Leisure Time 51Relationships 54Occupational Aspirations 59Educational Aspirations 61Fears About the Future 64Fear of Not Being Alive in the Future 65Fear of Losing People 67Fear of Drugs and Alcohol 69Resistance 72Resisting the Breakdown of their Families 73Resisting the Loss of Their Culture and Roots 76Providing a Better Lives for the Next Generation 80Perceived Needs 83Support From Others 83Need to Change/Improve Self 84Summary 86Chapter Five: Conclusion 87A Need For Change 88Collective Responses 88Greater Representation 90Social Work Education 90Social Action 91Social Work Counselling With Female First Nations Youth 92Issues Confronting Female First Nations Youth 97Importance of Involving the Family 97Sexuality 98Programs 99General 99Specific 100Drug and Alcohol 100Recreational Facilities 101Job Training 101The Need For Continued Research 103Bibliography 105Appendices 109vList of TablesPageTable 1 Description of Participants 49viChapter 1: IntroductionThe intent of this research is to increase social workers’understandings about street involved female First Nations youthliving in an urban area. The study focuses on five young Streetinvolved First Nations women living in Vancouver. The futurehopes, dreams, fears and apprehensions of these young women areexamined. Through their words, insights into some of theconditions which so powerfully dictate these young women’sperceptions and life opportunities become apparent. The ultimategoal of this study is to provide an overall sense of some of theobstacles for young street involved First Nations youth living inan urban area as they move toward adulthood. Through thisunderstanding, it is hoped that social workers will acquire moreinsight, helpful in addressing the needs and concerns of thispopulation.This chapter outlines why future orientations are anappropriate aspect to be studied. The use of language anddefinitions pertinent to this project are then discussed. Thelimitations of this study will be presented and followed by anoverview of the content and order of the remaining sections ofthis thesis.Why Study Future Perceptions?Inquiring about the future perceptions of these young womenwas viewed as appropriate for several reasons. It was believedthat such an inquiry would best allow for both the positive andnegative aspects of these youths’ lives to emerge. Although thispopulation is clearly disadvantaged and suffers multipleconsequences because of this, it was believed at the onset that1they were also resilient, hopeful, creative, intelligent andresourceful. By focusing on a broad aspect of their lives (futureorientations), it was believed that both the negative andpositive perceptions of their lives could be captured.This was considered to be important as much existingresearch about Aboriginal peoples has tended to focus on onlynegative aspects of their lives. La Fromboise & Plake (1983)point this out stating that “Social science literature, forexample, rarely accounts for the positive elements of Indiancultures”(p.45). By avoiding a point of entry which was heavilyladen with negativity (for example, experiences of sexual abuse,family alcoholism or criminality), a greater opportunity wasallowed to explore all aspects of their lives and not just thedestructive ones. It was the intention of this research to revealsome of the positive aspects of young First Nations women’slives.It was also believed that in order to meet the needs ofthese youth, it would be critical to understand their perceptionsof their futures. By understanding a population’s expectationsand perceptions about such things as their future career,educational advancement or family lives, a wealth of informationrelevant to understanding their present experiences and serviceneeds can be obtained. A substantial amount of literaturesupports this by linking adolescent’s perceptions of their futurewith various attributes such as self esteem, self concept orfeelings of empowerment.For example, Lian-Hwang Chui (1990) established there was arelationship between the decisiveness of career goals and self2esteem in the adolescents in her study. Similarly, Ruth Parsons(1989) presented an argument that high rates of pregnancy amongminority girls were influenced by their perceptions of havingfewer future life options and not feeling empowered. It wasbelieved that the interests and goals that this populationpossess, and to what extent they see these as being achievable,were important considerations in addressing their service needs.The implications for the social work profession areenormous. Combined with existing research, this information canbe used to create services and programs which incorporate theseyouths’ perceptions and better meet their service needs. Servicescan be aimed at providing support to these young people in theareas which are most pertinent to their lives and futures.Further, social workers can use this information to enhance theirunderstanding of this population and to improve their crosscultural practice with First Nations youth.Definition of termsIt is acknowledged that the use of language is both powerfuland important. For clarity, definitions are provided for termsthroughout this thesis. However, it is useful to address someterms here, at the onset. The terms future orientations’, FirstNations’ and ‘street involved’ are utilized throughout thispaper. These three important, key terms are clarified in thissection.Future PerceptionsFuture perceptions’, future orientations’ and futureoutlooks’ and are used interchangeably throughout this thesis.According to Seginer (1988), future orientations’ refers to “the3subjective representation of one’s personal future..consisting of “. . plans, aspirations expectations, and fearsconcerning probable events in the near or distant future” (p.315). The literature generally agrees that the content of futureorientations are organized around life domains such as work,education, family/relationships and leisure time (Nurmi, 1991;Seginer, 1988). This research incorporated all these lifedomains, as well as some additional ones which are discussed inmore detail in the methodology section.First NationsThe multitude of terms used to refer to this population-Aboriginal, Native, Indian and First Nations -warrantsconsideration. The term “Indian” was viewed as clearly being anoutdated and erroneous term and therefore is not utilized.However, despite the fact that the term Native is, to some, alsoderogatory and incorrect, it is used on occasion. For example, inthe consent and request for participant forms this term is used.The decision to utilize this term was based on my familiaritywith this population. In my work with young First Nationsadolescents and their families, my experience has been that thisis the term most commonly used by themselves.The term First Nations may also not be totally accurate inthat not all individuals associate themselves with a nation.Aboriginal is perhaps the most accurate but because it is souncommonly used by the population being studied it did notentirely feel comfortable either. In the end, both the termsFirst Nations and Aboriginal are utilized primarily in thisreport and to a lesser extent (when seen as appropriate) so is4the term Native.It should also be noted that when quotes were taken from theliterature, the terms which the authors had utilized areretained, despite the sometimes obvious inappropriateness ofthem. The terms First Nations, Native and Aboriginal are all usedto refer to any individual whose ancestors were indigenous tothis country, for the purposes of this project.Street InvolvedThe young women in this study were considered to be streetinvolved. It should be noted that the participants for this studywere recruited prior to determining that they were all streetinvolved. However, the points of entry for selecting participants(an alternate school and a bail supervision program) suggested atthe onset that this may be the case. (A detailed description ofwhere potential participants were contacted is provided in themethodological section). Due to the nature of these agencies andthe resulting characteristics of the participants, it isimportant to differentiate them from the general population ofFirst Nations youth.Some of the conditions specified in the Adolescent HealthSurvey: Street Youth in Vancouver (Peters & Murphy, 1994) todefine street youth were used to determine this definition. Thisterm is used to refer to young people who are not in schooland/or are not living at home and involved with any or all of theactivities associated with Street life (for example, runningaway, prostitution, engaging in criminal activity, selling orusing drugs). All of the young of the young women whoparticipated in this study met these conditions (see Description5of Participants for the detailed description of theparticipants).Limitations of the StudyA largely inaccessible population limited the number ofparticipants which were included in this study. Securingparticipants was complicated by the ages and lifestyles of thepopulation being studied. Acquiring parental approval was anadditional hurdle to overcome with this population which oftenhad inconsistent contact with their parents.The study was also further limited by the lack of existingliterature about this population. Resources which specificallyaddress the issues and needs of female First Nations youth werelimited. As a result, the literature which addressed young FirstNations (both male and female) had to used along with therelevant literature addressing female (but not youth) FirstNations issues. This literature, however, did not adequatelyaddress the specific concerns of young street involved FirstNations youth in urban areas.This study was also limited by my own skills, personalresources and theoretical knowledge as a researcher. Oftentreading in unfamiliar territory in conducting cross-culturalresearch, I became overwhelmed and bewildered. As a non-Aboriginal individual, I continual had to evaluate my selectionsof literature, my interpretations and conclusions. I will notdeny that I have been limited by my own dominant-cultureperspectives and my lack of experience of what it is really liketo be a First Nations individual.As this research was conducted within the context of a6Master’s program, it was also limited by several other factors.For example, this project was limited by the amount of time andmoney available to carry it out. More significant, however, werethe limitations imposed on this project by the University ofBritish Columbia’s Ethical Review Committee. Although it isrecognized that research needs to be monitored and implementedsensitively, many of the guidelines and requirements of theEthical Review Committee severely limited this project.The guidelines with respect to recruiting and selectingparticipants particularly hampered this project. As a result ofthese guidelines, I was unable to contact those youth with whom Ihad previously worked. Instead, a letter had to be sent by theprogram manager to which the youth were required to respond (seemethodology section for complete details of the recruitingprocedure). Very few potential participants responded to thismethod of recruiting. As well, as all participants were under theage of nineteen, they were also required to have parentalapproval. Many of the potential participants for this study hadlittle or no contact with their parents, making this notfeasible.Also, due to the nature of the research question andpopulation being studied, it was difficult to predict at theonset the difficulties which would be encountered. As the EthicalReview Committee requires that all changes to research projectsbe re-submitted and approved, altering strategies during theresearch process would have been extremely time consuming anddifficult. This requirement is unsuited to the evolving nature ofqualitative work.7Having now addressed some of the limitations associated withthis project, I will move to brief description of how this paperhas been organized and will be presented. This thesis will beginwith a review of some of the relevant literature in Chapter Twoto provide a context from which the future perceptions’ of theseyoung women can be understood. In Chapter Three, a detailedaccount of the methodology employed throughout this project isprovided. The results acquired from the rich interviews whichwere conducted are presented in Chapter Four.Chapter Four is further organized into four sections. First,a profile of these youth’s future perceptions as they relate tothe major life domains of leisure time, relationships, work, andeducation, are presented. Second, the fears which these youngwomen expressed with respect to their futures are discussed.Next, the future perceptions which reflected resistance arepresented. The final section looks at some of the things theseyoung women suggested they may need to achieve their futuregoals. Relevant literature is used to supplement this portionwhenever applicable. In Chapter 5, the implications for socialwork are discussed and some suggested areas for future researchprovided.8Chapter 2: Literature ReviewSelecting and compiling the available literature relevant tothis research was difficult. Avoiding euro—centric theories,which consistently lacked in their ability to adequately explainthe issues faced by this population, made this particularlydifficult. As well, the recognition that the issues faced byyoung First Nations females are complex ones, further complicatedthis process. In the end, a selection of literature whichaddressed some of the pertinent factors in these young women’slives was chosen.The section to follow will begin with a statistical profileof First Nations youth in Canada to establish both the rationaleand the context of this research. Some historical events whichcontinue to effect the lives of the younger generation of FirstNations individuals will be discussed. This chapter will alsohighlight the importance of considering culture when interpretingthese young women’s future outlooks.First Nation Youth in Canada: A Statistical ProfileAvailable statistics paint a bleak picture for First Nationsyouth in Canada. First Nations youth’s involvement in socialservice and correctional institutions in Canada will bepresented. Their levels of participation in work and schoolactivities will be revealed, along with their relationship tosuicide rates and substance abuse.Despite the fact that this study focused solely on FirstNations females, many of the available statistics which arepresented do not differentiate between the genders. Wheneverpossible, statistics which refer to females are provided. In9addition, some gender-specific conditions (for example,pregnancy) are briefly discussed near the end of this section.This section concludes with a brief look at the specialcircumstances experienced by First Nations youth in urban areas.Social Services and Correctional InvolvementResearch has shown that First Nations children are greatlyover-represented in the population of children in care (Falconer& Swift, 1983). It has been found that “Indian children arerepresented in the child welfare system at 4 1/2 times the ratefor all children in Canada (Falconer & Swift, 1983,p.185).Compounding this is the fact that the majority of these childrenare neither returned home nor adopted and “of those children whoare adopted, about 75% go to non-Indian homes” (Falconer & Swift,1983,p.185). There is ample evidence that First Nationschildren suffer greatly when they are removed from theircommunities (Berlin, 1987). For all First Nations peoples, thiscontinuing trend has had detrimental effects on their family andcommunity structures.The removal of First Nations children from their familiesand communities has not been limited to the social service sectoreither. First Nations youth’s are also at risk of being removedfrom their families and communities at the hands of the justicesystem. A 1993 Canadian Department of Justice report states that,“compared to non—Aboriginal youth, Aboriginal youth have morecharges laid against them, are less likely to get bail, are morelikely to be sentenced to custody, serve longer sentences and aremore likely to be transferred to adult court”(p.5). Althoughempirical data is scarce, there is some evidence that females may10be even more disproportionately represented in the justice system(La Prairie, 1984, 1987).For example, La Prairie (1984) found in her research thatthe over—representation of First Nations women is greater thanthat of their male counterparts, particularly for certain typesof crimes. Although not referring specifically to youngoffenders, La Prairie (1987) concludes that First Nations womenare twice as likely to be charged with offences against personsthan are First Nations males. At the Kingston Prison for Women(P4W) almost three quarters of the First Nations women have beencommitted for violent offences (La Prairie, 1987). She suggeststhat this may also true for First Nations female youth.La Prairie (1987) offers the following results from a studyconducted by the Ontario Native Women’s Association in support ofthis:over a third (thirty-seven per cent) of the Native womeninterviewed in Ontario provincial correctional institutionswere twenty years of age or younger; slightly over half(fifty-two percent) were first arrested in their middleteenage years (ages fourteen to seventeen) and an additionaleighteen percent were even younger when first arrested. (p.104).These findings reveal that most First Nations women in provincialinstitutions (seventy percent in this study), first come intocontact with the justice system during their teenage years.La Prairie and Griffiths (1982) also found that female FirstNations youth were disproportionately represented in the justicesystem compared to non-First Nations females. They conductedtheir research in northern British Columbia and found that:In the probation, court registry and diversiondata sets,there was considerable higher involvement of native Indianfemales than non-Native females. Native females comprised1120.4% of the court registry cases compared to 10.0% fornon-Native females(p.41).Given the overall limited involvement of the general femalepopulation’s involvement in the justice system, these studiesreveal a striking phenomenon among female First Nations youth.Education and Employment ActivitiesIn general, the educational attainment of First Nationsyouth in Canada is substantially below that of non- Aboriginalyouth (Priest, 1985). Priest (1985) found that for the group aged15-19, 27.5% of Aboriginal youth were unemployed compared to 16%of non- Aboriginal youth. Although these statistics are somewhatoutdated (derived from a 1981 Canadian census report), there isevidence that the situation holds true presently.An recent article in the Vancouver Sun reported thatunemployment among First Nations people was 2 1/2 times thenational rate (Bolan, 1992). Although not focusing specificallyon youth, this article concluded that “Aboriginals were alsolearning and earning a lot less than other Canadians” (Bolan,1992). The result is that First Nations youth in Canada aredisproportionately at risk of being both out of school and notworking (Priest, 1985).Suicide and Substance AbuseIn what York (1990) terms the “frightening trend towardsself-annihilation in native communities1’(p.97), research hasshown that in Canada the suicide rate among Aboriginal youth isabout six times higher than the rate for non- Aboriginal youth.York (1990) also explains that this statistic does not includesuicides which are erroneously classified as accidents or12incidents which might be hidden suicides (for example car crashesor drownings).Particularly with young people, high risk activities thatresult in death can be classified as accidents when they mayactually reflect the suicidal desires of the individual. It isdifficult to determine, for example, if a death is accidental inthe cases of young people driving at high speeds in an automobileor knowingly engaging in unprotected sex with an HIV infectedpartner. Given this, estimates have been made that the true rateof suicide among Aboriginal youth is closer to twelve times thenational average (York, 1990). These alarming statistics haveresulted in claims that Canadian First Nations youth may havethey highest suicide rate of any racial group in the world (York,1990).The vast majority of these suicides occur while alcohol isbeing consumed and the use of alcohol in many First Nationscommunities remains a serious concern today. York (1990) statesthat, “Each year, more than 20,000 potential years of life arelost as a result of the effects of alcohol among CanadianIndians”(p.195). No specific data could be found whichreflected the extent to which this occurs among female FirstNations youth. An American study, however, found that incomparison to other female adolescents’ alcohol use, heavydrinking was found to be most common (11 percent) among AmericanIndian girls (Hyde, 1991).Gender-Specific FactorsDue to their gender, First Nations females are also at riskin other ways. Unlike their male counterparts, female First13Nations youth also face the risk of becoming pregnant while stillteenagers or before they are in stable relationships. It has beenfound that “the birth rate for unmarried, registered Indian womenis almost 5 times as high as those of non—Indian unmarried women”(La Prairie, 1984, p. 166). An alarming rate of young FirstNations females become pregnant during their teenage years.Although an in-depth discussion is not within the scope ofthis paper, it is worth noting that the effects of alcohol use onunborn children is also a serious concern. A medical researcherin British Columbia found that, “25 percent of all children onone Indian reserve had birth defects as a result of fetal alcoholsyndrome” (York, 1990,p.195). Fetal alcohol syndrome is acondition where the infant can suffer severe and permanentdamage, both mentally and physically, as a result of alcoholconsumption during pregnancy. This is a relatively new area ofresearch and only now is the true scope of this problem becomingapparent.UrbanizationAs the youth in this study were living in the urban area ofVancouver, there are additional factors relevant to thispopulation. Although in Canada the majority of Aboriginal youthstill reside in rural areas (Priest, 1985), an increasing numberof these young people are becoming permanent residents of urbanareas. Some research has been conducted which focuses on themigration of Aboriginal peoples to urban areas.The majority of this research has looked at the levels ofmigration which have occurred from rural areas and reserves,reasons for leaving reserves and the difficulties experienced in14adapting to urban life. This research has generally concludedthat First Nations individuals have not successfully adapted tocity life (Frideres, 1988). For example, Frideres (1988) notesthat First Nations individuals living in urban areas are morelikely to come into contact with a Social services or correctionsagency than are whites. Blue Clarke (1988) further explains thesituation faced by many First Nations peoples in urban areas:Urban Indians resided in the most substandard housing, hadthe least satisfactory sanitary facilities, had the highestrate of illiteracy, commanded the highest rate of diseasesper capita, were more often unemployed and when employedwere more often under employed and received lower wages thanall of the other groups in the city (p. 286).Almost nothing is known, however, about the generation of youngpeople which have been born or moved into urban areas.Perhaps for the first time, many of these youth have littleor no connection to reserves. In Lynda Shorten’s (1991)compelling book, Without Reserve: Stories from Urban Natives, shesays this about “Urban Natives”:These are individuals without a chief, often without aband or treaty number, people not represented in landclaims negotiations or treaty claims; people ignored,for the most part, in discussions about Canada’streatment of its Native population (p. viii).Very little is known about the plight of the younger generationin urban areas. There is some evidence, however, that FirstNations youth in urban areas run a high risk of ending up on thestreets.The adolescent health Survey in Vancouver found that “amongyouth in B.C. schools just 4% identify themselves as natives oraboriginal, but the comparable percentages among street youth isnine times greater at 36%” (Peters & Murphy, 1994,p.18). This15suggests that First Nations youth are at enormous risk of endingup on the streets in urban areas and consequently becominginvolved in substance abuse, prostitution, drug dealing and otherdangerous activities related to street life.SummaryThe disproportionate likelihood of a First Nations youthbecoming involved in the justice system, being apprehended,abusing substances, becoming pregnant, being unemployed and notin school, taking his/her own life, or ending up on the street isappalling and warrants far greater attention than it is currentlyreceiving. These statistics provide a general context from whichto begin discussing the possible genesis of the problems faced byFirst Nations youth in this country.In searching for explanations of why this situationpresently exists for First Nations youth in Canada, it isimportant to consider the problem from a broad perspective. Nextsome of the historical events which have influenced these youngwomen’s lives will be discussed.Down Through the Generations: A Historical PerspectiveThis section provides a historical overview which emphasizessome of the detrimental interactions the dominant society has hadwith First Nations peoples and the ramifications this iscurrently having on First Nations youth. This historical accounthighlights how the destruction of First Nations ways of life arecontinuing to impact the youth of today. It should become clearthat the history of relations between Whites and First Nations inthis country have paved the way for the deteriorated ways of lifepresently experienced by many First Nations youth.16It is important to note that this is not an attempt atdocumenting First Nations history. Rather it is a historicalaccount of some of the relations which occurred since the arrivalof Europeans to this province. Clearly not all events arediscussed here, but enough as to give the essence of whatoccurred and the possible effects on today’s aboriginal youth.ContactUnlike popular belief, upon the arrival of Europeans thiswas not a vast empty land, but was inhabited by a considerablenumber of people with complex social and political systems. Longbefore the arrival of Europeans to British Columbia, FirstNations peoples had developed rich and intricate cultures andproductive social and political systems. Since the time ofcontact, First Nations history has been full of abuses and sorrow(Sewid-Smith, 1991).The first Europeans are believed to have arrived on thecoast of what is now known as British Columbia in 1794. From thispoint in time (until about to 1848), most of the explorers thatventured to this part of the world were interested primarily inexploring and trade with First Nations peoples (Duff, 1964). Forthe most part, this period of history occurred with relativelylittle disruption to First Nations ways of life (especially whencompared to the periods which followed) (Duff, 1964; Fisher,1977).Although there exists some debate regarding the nature ofthe relationship between First Nations and Europeans during thistime, in many ways it appeared to be largely a reciprocal one(Duff, 1964; Fisher, 1977). Fisher (1977) explains:17Historians have usually characterized the maritime fur tradeon the northwest coast as a trade in which gullible Indianswere exploited by avaricious and unprincipled Europeantraders.... [However] these conclusions pass judgements onEuropean behaviour and fail to analyze Indian responses. Infact, the Indians of the northwest coast exercised a greatdeal of control over the trading relationship and, as aconsequence, remained in control of their culture duringthis early contact period (p. 1).Regardless, this period was not without its destructive forces.For example, the diseases which the first Europeans brought withthem had devastating effects of many First Nations structures.DiseasesWith the arrival of Europeans came new strains of diseasesand illness which most First Nations peoples had no immunitiesagainst. Besides greatly diminishing the population of FirstNations peoples at a rapid rate, the disease epidemics had far-reaching effects on First Nations communities. The influx of newdiseases not only eliminated people, but cultures and ways oflife. Harold Napoleon’s (1993) account of the devastation of theYup’ik people of Alaska by disease, provides much insight intohow the effects of these diseases are still felt by the newgenerations.Napoleon (1993) explains that the trauma experienced bythose who survived these disease epidemics continue to be passeddown from generation to generation. He believes that much of thedespair in the hearts of young people today can be traced back tothis horrible period in history. Napoleon (1993) argues that manyFirst Nations peoples continue to suffer from post-traumaticstress symptoms which have been passed down from through thegenerations.Napoleon (1993) explains how traumatic the disease epidemics18really were. Here, he describes the situation during theinfluenza epidemic at the start of the century:The suffering, the despair the heartbreak, the desperation,and confusion these survivors lived through is unimaginable.People watched helplessly as their mothers, fathers,brother, and sisters grew ill, the efforts of the anaglkuq[medicine men] failing. First one family fell ill, thenanother, then another. The people grew desperate, theanaglkuq along with them. Then the death started, withpeople wailing morning, noon and night. Soon whole familieswere dead, some leaving only a boy or girl. Babies tried tosuckle on the breast of dead mothers, soon to diethemselves. Even the medicine men grew ill and died indespair with their people, and with them died a great partof Yuuyaraq, the ancient spirit of the Eskimo.(p.10).As a direct consequence of these disease epidemics, much of FirstNations cultures and beliefs were lost. Napoleon (1993) explainsthat, “traumatized, leaderless, confused, and afraid, thesurvivors readily followed the white missionaries and schoolteachers...”(p.12). Left vulnerable and desperate from theravages of disease, many began to give up their traditionalbeliefs and ways of life.SettlementBy 1858, fur trading, as a significant factor in therelationship between the two races, began to decline (Fisher,1977). The focus instead became simply that, “the Indians had theland and the settlers wanted it” (Fisher,p.103). With thesettlement of new people came rapid change and great disruptionamong First Nations peoples’ ways of life. The relationshipbetween the European immigrants and the First Nations peopleschanged significantly. Settlement brought an increasingimposition of capitalist forms of economic development andEuropean educational and religious systems. Assimilation becamethe prevalent social policy.19As settlement progressed, a number of laws were enacted toaccelerate the process of assimilation. This included thecreation of the Indian Act which defined who was legally“Indian”. Since its enactment, this legislation has been “theprincipal instrument by which the federal government and,indirectly, the provincial governments have exercised controlover the lives of Indian people” (Frideres, 1988, p. 25). Itpresented a paradox, however, since it confirmed the specialstatus of First Nations people as well as becoming a method ofsocial control and assimilation. Residential schools were anotherstrategy to assimilate First Nations peoples.Residential SchoolsDuring the operation of residential schools, BritishColumbia had one of the highest concentrations of residentialschools in the country. Roland Crisjohn (1993) explains thisprocess as: “Very simply, the children of First Nations groupswere removed, by law, from their homes and families and forced toattend schools operated by non-Indians”(p.2). While residentialschools were operating in British Columbia (and throughoutCanada) young children were taken, usually against their will,from their communities and forced to attend these school.The elimination of First Nation’s cultures was clearly oneof the main goals of these schools. One of the most extensivestudies of residential schools in British Columbia, Celia HaigBrown’s (1988) Resistance and Renewal, reveals many of theconsequences of the operation of these schools. Residentialschools continue to have negative ramifications on newgenerations who never even attended these schools.20Younger generations are effected by the loss of FirstNations cultures, languages and traditions which occurred. Thechildren who attended these schools were punished repeatedly forspeaking their languages and expressing their own cultures andcustoms. Haig-Brown (1988) explains:My father, who attended Alberni Indian Residential Schoolfor four years in the twenties, was physically tortured byhis teachers for speaking Tseshaht: they pushed sewingneedles through his tongue, a routine punishment forlanguage offender(p.16).As abuses like this were occurring, the children were forced toadapt to the language, culture, traditions and religion of thenew society.Many First Nations peoples’ rejections of their heritage andculture can be traced to the “success” of these schools. Notsurprisingly, many First Nations peoples who attended residentialschools internalized the rejection of their own culture andpassed this on to their children. The existence of culturalrejection or cultural self—hate that evident among the youngergeneration can largely be attributed to the experience of theirparents in these schools.Further, First Nations youth today suffer the consequencesof their parents being separated from their families andcommunities when they were children. When these children wereremoved, traditional systems of support were severely damaged. Aswell, the passing down of traditional ways of parenting wasobviously hindered.Residential schools, diseases, the taking away of land andother historical events continue to profoundly effect today’syoung First Nations population. The intention of this historical21overview was to provide the essential context for understandingthe contemporary issues facing the young women in this study. Toprovide greater depth to this understanding, a useful analyticalmodel for understanding the relations between whites and FirstNations will now be discussed.ColonizationNative-white relations can best be understood in the contextof colonization. A model of colonization provides the frameworkfor better understanding the relations and interactions whichhave occurred historically. As Griffiths and Verdun-Jones (1989)state:Many observers argue that the subordinate political positionand socio-economic conditions of Native groups is aconsequence of the colonization of natives by Europeans andCanadian government policies that have exerted control overvirtually every aspect of native life(p.546).It is difficult to argue that this has not been the process whichhas ensued since the time of European contact.Frideres (1988) supports this macro-perspective forunderstanding Native-White relations in Canada. Stating clearlythat, “White Canadians are seen as the colonizing people whileNatives are considered the colonized people” (p. 366). Frideres(1988) emphasizes that this approach invokes different, morestructurally focused, solutions. From this perspective, racism,discrimination and prejudice towards First Nations peoples areviewed as inherent components of the colonization process. Basedon Robert Blauner’s (1972) work Frideres (1988) provides adetailed description of the process of colonialism in seven stagemodel.Frideres (1988) explains that the first stage in this22process is the entrance of the colonizing group into a geographicarea. Basically, this involves the colonizing group forcing itsway into an area. In Canada, both English and French settlementfollowed this pattern.The second stage of this process is the destruction ofsocial and cultural structures of the colonized group. In Canada,“white colonizers destroyed the Natives’ political, economic,kinship, and, to in most cases, their religious systems”(Frideres,p.367). Education and religious groups have been mostinstrumental in this process. When First Nations culturaltraditions conflicted with Christianity, they were simplyoutlawed by government (as with the potlatch feast). Residentialschools combined these instruments (education and religion) tofurther destroy the social and cultural systems among FirstNations.The third and fourth aspects of colonization involve theintegrated processes of external political control and economicdependence. Frideres (1988) explains that “in the standardprocess of colonization the mother country sends overrepresentatives through which it indirectly rules the newlyconquered land”(p.368). In his opinion, this representative inCanada has been the Department of Indian and NorthernDevelopment.This includes First Nations prevention from participation inthe political arena. Many First Nations peoples did not receivethe right to vote federally until 1960 (Frideres, 1988). It isapparent that if a group has no means of participating in thepolitical process they will obviously have a limited ability to23effectively influence or deter policies which directly effectthem.First Nations peoples have also been forced to beeconomically dependent on the dominant society “because theirreserves are treated as geographical and social hinterlands forWhite exploitations” (Frideres,p.370). First Nations peopleshave been forced onto reserves with no or few forms of economicsurvival. The effects of this economic dependency has beendevastating on First Nations peoples’ lives, contributing to highrates of alcoholism, suicide and violence in their communities.The fifth aspect of the colonization process is theprovision of low quality social services, such as health andeducation services. First Nations peoples continue to haverelatively little control over these services, often renderingthem inaccessible or inappropriate for the needs of their people.A poor provision of services exists despite the historicalcommitment made by the government to provide these services.The last two aspects of the colonization process discussedby Frideres (1988) are social interactions based on racism andthe establishment of a colour-line. Frideres (1988) states that;racism is the belief in the genetic superiority of one groupover another; in this case it is White people as superiorand Native peoples inferior and a colour-line refers to asituation where indicators such as skin pigmentation andbody structure are established as the basis for determiningsuperiority or inferiority(p.371).There is ample evidence that many of the interactions which haveoccurred between First Nations and whites have been rooted inracist ideologies. Racist policies which have been used tocontrol and limit the lives of First Nations peoples throughout24history. Aboriginals have been severely disadvantaged in Canadiansociety based on their race. As a result, First Nations peopleshave been given fewer opportunities in society based solely ontheir race.Through this process of colonization, Aboriginals have beensubjected to continued segregation, degradation, demoralization,racism and poverty which has caused many of their youth to be ina state of crisis today. This process, which has involved thedeliberate destruction of cultures and values among First Nationspeople, undoubtedly affects the healthy growth of their childrenand youth today.First Nations CulturesIt is important to acknowledge that First Nations culturesand traditions have not been totally dismantled by whitecolonizers. In fact, many First Nations communities are workingactively to retain these traditional ways of life. Some of thecultural factors which may influence these young women’s livesand perceptions will be considered in this section. It should bestressed, however, that there is enormous diversity among FirstNations peoples cultures and varying degrees to which individualshave been affected by assimilation policies in this country. As aresult, it is impossible to provide an overview, even a generalone, which adequately depicts the influence of culture on allFirst Nations individuals. However, it is essential toacknowledge that some significant differences do exist betweenthe values and traditions of First Nations peoples and thedominant culture.Evelyn Blanchard’s (1983) article The Growth and Development25of American Indian and Alaskan Native Children, is useful forthis purpose. She describes the impact of cultural andtraditional norms along with the impact of Euro—Western cultureon First Nations children. Blanchard (1983) provides some basicunderlying philosophies and values of First Nations peoples whichshe believes ultimately influence the development of most FirstNations children. As well, she highlights the conditions whichhave disrupted this process.According to Blanchard (1983), First Nations peoplestbelieve in a non-hierarchal order of being and emphasizerelationships which are based on interdependence andresponsibility. As well, the allowance of individual expressionand uniqueness, a belief in an inherently good or right socialorder and an acute awareness of the balance and imbalance in thenatural order of things is central to many First Nationscultures. As well, an emphasis on the importance of extendedfamily, community and respect for elders exists. Blanchard (1983)also explains that many First Nations cultures involve atradition of shared responsibility of child rearing, encouragingchildren to be in touch with their surroundings, and thediscouragement of individual competitiveness and aggression.She acknowledges, however, that First Nation’s culturaltraditions, belief systems and child rearing styles have oftenconflicted with those of the dominant society. Blanchard (1983)stresses that, as a result, various conditions and influenceshave, and continue to, disrupt these beliefs and ways of life.For instance, Western educational systems and the removal ofchildren through social services and boarding schools have had26enormous impacts. As she explains; “There is no longer a way oflife but ways of life that are not necessarily connected” (p.118). It is believed that this is a significant factor for theyouth in this study.For example, as all of the youth in this study have beeneducated in the dominant culture’s educational system and havebeen exposed to the values and philosophies of that system.Consequently, they will likely be aware of different ways of lifethat not only are not connected but also conflict. Further, thedegree to which they are aware of these traditional ways of lifeis greatly reduced if their parents have been exposed to theresidential school system which punished First Nations peoplesfor expressing their culture.SummaryDisadvantaged on multiple levels (being young, a member ofan ethnic minority group and being female), First Nations femaleadolescents represent one of the most ignored and misunderstoodpopulations in this country. Probably no other group in thiscountry faces the degree of hardships and difficulties of youngFirst Nations women in urban areas. Their significance has reallyonly been acknowledged in statistics about suicide, involvementin prostitution, alcohol and drug abuse, delinquency and teenagepregnancy. Very little is known about their lives, experiences orexpectations for the future.As has been demonstrated, First Nations female’sperceptions of their futures will be influencedby a variety ofhistorical and cultural factors. This qualitative research,provides descriptions of how street involved First Nations young27women, living in the urban area of Vancouver, view their futures.It reveals some of their priorities and fears central to theirvisions of their futures. The next chapter is an outline of howthis research was conducted.28Chapter 3: MethodologyThe following section outlines the research design which waschosen to conduct this study. The participant specifications andtype, including the recruitment procedures, are explained. Thestrengths and limitations are outlined and a detailed descriptionof the data collection process provided. Also, the process ofdata analysis is explained in detail and examples provided. Themethods employed in this study, as are outlined below, wereapproved by the Ethical Review Committee at the University ofBritish Columbia (see Appendix 1).Description of DesignA qualitative approach, based on the assumption that “validunderstanding can be gained through accumulated knowledgeacquired firsthand by a single researcher,” (Reid & Smith, 1981,p.87), was taken. Qualitative methodologists,proceed from the premise that the methods of the naturalsciences, while useful in the study of social phenomena,should not be regarded as the ideal model for all socialresearch (Reid & Smith, 1981,p.88).It was believed that the information regarding the futureorientations of First Nations young women could best be obtainedfrom a qualitative approach. The general purpose of such anapproach is to “acquire in-depth knowledge used to guide furtherstudy” (Reid & Smith,p.88). This approach provided the bestopportunity to capture a full understanding of these youths’perceptions of their futures.A qualitative approach was also believed to be the bestmethod of study due to the fact that this research involvedlooking at an ethnic/racial “minority” group. Evidencedoes exist29that suggests this may be the preferred method of study withrespect to conducting racial minority research because of theinherent complexity of culture (Ponterotto & Casas, 1991).Ponterotto and Casas (1991) state that, because most research inthis area has been quantitative in focus, “we admonish readers tolaunch more qualitative investigations at this point in time” (p.138). According to them, this method of research lends itselfparticularly well to studying topic areas which involve thecomplex dimensions of culture.As very little is presently known about the specific natureof female First Nations adolescent’s perceptions of theirfutures, this research was primarily exploratory. It wasexploratory in that it was intended to be “used to gainpreliminary understanding of phenomena or to stimulate thedevelopment of concepts, hypothesis and theories” (Reid & Smith,p.67). The following is a description of how the data wascollected for this exploratory, qualitative research.Data CollectionThis section will explain the type of measure which wasusedto gather the information for this research and the manner inwhich it was employed. The procedures and specific techniqueswhich were adhered to during the data collection phase are thenoutlined. Finally, the potential effects on participants arediscussed and the ways in which these were addressed in thisstudy.Interview TypeThe information for this research project was gatheredbyconducting face-to—face interviews which were audio—tapedto30enhance their accuracy. The intent of gathering rich detailedmaterial rendered interviewing a logical approach to adopt.A semi—structured interview was conducted using an interviewguide (see Appendix 2). Open-ended questions were utilized toallow greater expression of the topic areas. This approachallowed specific topic areas to be covered but, unlike astructured interview, the exact wording or ordering of thequestions were at the discretion of myself (Hessler, 1992).An interview guide provided the best method for acquiringthe in-depth information I desired by allowing the participantsto express themselves in a less restrained environment. Thebenefit of this approach was it allowed the participants enoughroom to express themselves while still gathering the necessaryinformation. Its flexibility allowed the participants toelaborate in areas they felt were most important and to capturetheir experiences and their understanding as they saw them.An adapted form of a method known as the “futures diaryapproach” was also taken (Baker, 1985). This approach involvedstarting the interview by asking the teenager to describe anaverage day in the present, starting from when she got up in themorning. This was followed by asking her to describe what shethought an average day might look like, from the time she gotup,when she is about thirty years old. The probes which wereusedduring the first question replicated those that were used wheneliciting information about the future.In a study conducted by the Canadian Advisory Council ontheStatus of Women (1985), this approach had been found to be usefulfor studying adolescents’ future perceptions. The researcher31states:Research has shown that this is a fruitful way to helpyoung people to be more specific than they mightotherwise be, but still give them plenty of room fortheir own thoughts and imagination (Baker, 1985, p. 5).This method allowed the participants to discuss the relevanttopic areas in the context of their present lives before engagingin the more difficult task of discussing them in the context oftheir future lives. This proved to be a useful way for gettingthe youth to think about the different aspects of her future.Another advantage to this approach was that it produced relevantinformation about the participants’ present lives.The interview questions were designed to illicit informationin the areas which were suggested in the literature to besignificant to adolescents’ future orientations. These includedthe youth’s perceptions of her career, education, family,relationships, children and use of leisure time (Nurmi, 1991;Seginer, 1988). Also incorporated, specifically for the purposesof this research project, was the youth’s perceived futureinvolvement in traditional First Nations cultural practices. Thiswas believed to be an important aspect of these youths’perceptions of their futures.Interview ProceduresThe interviews ranged from forty—five minutes to just overan hour. The young women were informed that they could take abreak at any time during the interview, however, none of themchose to do so. I supplied refreshments, and on three occasionssnacks, during the interviews. The tape recorder was kept out ofview to reduce uncomfortableness, although I clearly indicatedat32what point I was turning it on and assured I had eachparticipant’s consent.Written parent or guardian permission was obtained for allthe participants prior to the interviews being conducted (seeAppendix 3). All participants also gave their own written consentprior to participating (see Appendix 4). The form was read andexplained to each youth prior to her signing it. All participantswere reminded that they could withdraw at any time and therewould be no penalty.In order to encourage the commitment of these young womenand to compensate them for their time, a small monetary award wasoffered. Each participant was paid ten dollars after completingthe interview in appreciation for their involvement in theproject. Money was chosen as it was seen as the most desired formof compensation for this age group. As well, a monetary awardwould assure any personal expenses (bus fares, etc.) would becovered.Upon meeting the young women, I would indicate that if theywere to withdraw at some point during the interview, includingbefore even beginning the interview, that they would stillreceive their money. This was to assure that none of the youthfelt compelled to participate solely in order to receive themoney. None of the youth, however, chose to withdraw from theresearch prior to beginning or at any other time during theinterview.There was no specific setting for this research project and,as a result, remaining flexible and adaptable was essential. Thelocations of interviews were largely determined by the young33women themselves. An effort was made to conduct them wherever theyoung women felt most comfortable. Two of the interviews wereconducted at the school which the participants were attending andhad read the notice requesting participants. The other threeinterviews were conducted in my home. These settings wereconsidered adequate becausG they were safe, mutually agreed uponand were relatively free from distractions.Interview TechniquesIt was realized that many factors can influence aninterviews. As a result, specific skills were learned and adheredto in order to enhance the success of gathering the desiredinformation. The following is a brief outline of some of thefactors which were considered to be important to the interviewprocess.Establishing rapport with the participants was viewed asessential to the interview process. According to Hessler (1992),interviews require that rapport and trust be achieved if researchis to be conducted. This was considered to be particularlyimportant due to the young age of the participants I wasinterviewing. In order to develop rapport, I had personal ortelephone communication with all the participants prior toconducting the interviews. Upon meeting the youth to conduct theinterview, a short period was also allowed for each of us tofamiliarizing ourseif with the other. My extensive experienceworking with adolescents was an additional asset. I have workedwith many teenagers previously and have developed a style andapproach which tends to facilitate the establishment of rapportquite quickly.34Efforts were also made during the interviews to enhance thedepth of information I was seeking. As the interviewer, Iattempted to minimize my own talking while the interviews were inprogress to facilitate maximum expression from the participants.I attempted to control of the process, but not the content, byguiding the interactions as they occurred (Hessler, 1992).Potential Effects on ParticipantsAs interviewing can potentially be an emotionallydistressing experience for participants, certain precautions weretaken. Following the interviews, the participants were given anopportunity to debrief. They were asked if they felt alright withthe process and if they had any questions. Fortunately, all ofthe participants indicated feeling fine about the process and theonly questions which arose were with respect to having access tothe finished product. These youth were informed that they couldcontact me at a future date and I would forward them a copy ofthe completed study.In addition, I received feedback from different adults thatsome of the young women had discussed their interviews with aftercompleting them. These individuals all provided positivefeedback. One indicated that she had been informed that theinterview was easy and another that it had been fun. Anotheryouth stated she was pleased that someone had been interested inher life and future outlook.As a result, I do not believe that any of the participantssuffered any negative effects as a result of the interview. Oneyouth even indicated, to myself, that the interview reminded herabout how important her future plans were to her. She stated35that, as a result of participating in the interview, maybe shewould try harder to attend school more regularly in order toachieve her future goal of going to university.Selecting and Recruiting ParticipantsThe selection of the participants was a purposeful process.First Nations female adolescents from fifteen up to, andincluding, nineteen years of age, living off-reserve and in theVancouver area were eligible to participate in this study. Fiverelatively homogeneous participants were eventually recruited forthis research.The legal definition of an “Indian” was not used for thepurposes of selecting participants due to the obvious racistnature and the controlling and destructive manner in which it hasbeen used in the past. It was assumed that potential participantswere capable of determining their own race/ethnicity and anyyouth who identified herself as being Native was considered to beNative.Ten past clients of the Vancouver Intensive SupervisionProgram (operated by the Focus Foundation) which met the abovestated criteria were contacted by letter sent by the programcoordinator (see Appendix 5). The Vancouver Intensive SupervisionProgram is a alternative to custody, bail supervision program foryoung offenders. Prior approval was obtained from this agencybefore letters were sent (see Appendix 6). It was made clear inthe letter of introduction that their participation was totallyvoluntary and separate from their past involvement in theprogram. A phone number was provided in the letter through whichthe potential participants could contact me if they were36interested in participating in the study.Several of the letters were returned due to the potentialparticipants having moved since their involvement in the program.Only two participants indicated, through a third party, thatthey were interested in participating in the research as a resultof this process. Another youth, through her association with oneof the youth who had responded to the letter, was also recruited.As not enough participants responded to the letter, a noticerequesting participation was then posted at an alternate schoollocated in East Vancouver (see Appendix 7). Verbal permission wasobtained from school staff to post this notice. A phone numberwas provided in the notice through which potential participantscould contact me. Two participant’s responded and were thenmailed information regarding the nature of the interview and therequirement of parental approval. After receiving thisinformation and discussing it with their parents, these two youthstill indicated that they were willing to participate.These points of entry for selecting participants wereintentional. The purpose was to recruit participants who werelikely to be closely connected to, or at least exposed to, thehardships of being a female First Nations youth living in anurban environment. By contacting youth who were either involvedin an alternate school or bail supervision program, it wasexpected they potentially would share some similar experiences asFirst Nations youth living in Vancouver.It is clearly acknowledged that in no way was this intendedto be a representative sample of all First Nations youth. Theregular school system, for example, would have likely yielded37participants who had not experienced the same degree of hardshipsthat this group of youth ultimately revealed having experienced.The youth who participated in this study were defined as streetinvolved to highlight this difference.LimitationsThe participants for this research were limited to arelatively small number due to the difficulties encounteredduring the recruitment phase. Due to the difficulty of obtainingcorrect addresses for potential participants and the added burdenof having to obtain parental approval, recruiting took aconsiderable length of time. Although some delay had beenanticipated, the task of recruiting participants became moredifficult than initially expected. More than once, youth who hadindicated they were interested in participating lost their parentconsent forms or forgot them somewhere. Also, the transientnature of these youth’s lives made securing interview timesdifficult. Often several attempts had to be made to schedulemutually agreed upon times and places to do the interviews.As well, these difficulties, particularly their transientnature, made the option of conducting second interviews notpossible. Shortly after completing the first interviews, I wasinformed that several of the participants had relocated, eitherto different residences or out of the city. Further, two of theparticipants did not have telephones at their residences makingcontact with them somewhat complicated.However, the information obtained from these five interviewswere believed to be sufficient enough to provide at least apreliminary understanding about their future perceptions. Hessler38(1992) states with respect to this issue:Importantly, the actual number of cases is not merely assignificant as the potential of each case to add to theresearcher’s understanding of the phenomena under study (p.129).Fortunately, all the interviews which were conducted yieldedlarge amounts of useful information. In the end, over 75 pages oftranscribed interviews were obtained for analysis.Data AnalysisThe method of analysis for this research was contentanalysis. A cross-case analysis was done with the intent ofdrawing out common themes (Patton, 1990). The overall purpose ofthis process was to analyze the interviews for both context andmeaning. This method allowed the large volume of informationwhich was acquired to be organized and presented in a moremanageable format while still retaining the meaning and contextthat had been intended by the participants.The analysis of the interviews was, in many ways, acomputer-based qualitative analysis (Dey, 1993). The use of acomputer greatly directed this analysis process. Although asoftware package designed specifically for analyzing qualitativedata was not utilized, my personal computer played an intricaterole in the approach which was taken.The rich environment provided by a contemporary wordprocessing program, allows greater ease of organizing and dealingwith the large amount of information which is acquired throughin-depth interviews. In recognizing this, I chose to rely heavilyon Ian Dey’s (1993) book Qualitative DataAnalysis: A UserFriendly Guide for Social Scientist, although other sources were39also used when appropriate. Dey’s (1993) approach to contentanalysis is not markedly different the mainstream approach but itdoes acknowledge the use of the computer in the analysis process.Consequently, the terminology utilized in describing the analysisprocess reflects this. The following describes, in detail, thisprocess.The first step in the analysis process involvedfamiliarizing myself with interviews. This entailed listening tothe taped interviews several times, personally transcribing theinterviews, and then reading the transcripts and returning to thetapes when clarification was needed. Transcribing the audio-tapedinterviews allowed for careful analysis of the data to lateroccur. By doing my own transcribing I became intimately familiarwith the data,In transcribing the interviews, there were severalcharacters utilized which should be clarified. Words which wereadded, and were not those of the participants, were distinguishedby square brackets( [1 ).Only when it was deemed absolutelynecessary to clarify meaning were words added into the content ofthe interviews. A change of thought occurring in mid-sentence wasindicated with a dash( - ).Several dashes in a row( --- )indicated a pause. More dashes represent longer and morepronounced pauses. Other sounds such as laughing or coughing wereindicated when they occurred and in encompassed in the followingstyle of brackets-{}.When quotes were broken and presentedseparately or portions left out, this is indicated with fourspaced dots(. . .The second step in the data analysis involved developing40broad categories which represented the information in theinterviews. As Patton (1990) notes; “Categorizing data is apowerful tool for organizing our analysis, both conceptually andempirically”(p.127). The interview guide itself directed theinitial development of categories. Due to the future diary’approach which was taken when conducting the interviews, thefirst categories which were developed were simply present’ andfuture’. The general topic areas of school, work, relationships,children, family, use of leisure time, and participation incultural activities were then formed under each of these twocategories.These categories directly reflected the questions and probeswhich had been utilized during the interviews. Additional topicareas (such as drug and alcohol use) also emerged at this timeand were used to organize the interviews further. This procedurereflects Patton’s (1990) notion that there are two preliminarysources form which to draw from in organizing; “questions andanalytic insights and interpretations that emerged during datacollection” (Patton,p.378).The transcribed interviews, which were contained in separatefiles on the computer, were then reviewed and sections (sometimeslines and sometimes paragraphs) were copied and transferred tothe appropriate files which had been created for each category.Interestingly, there was very little irrelevant information inmost of the interviews. Often, nearly entire interviews could bedivided into these different categories.Much effort was made to retain these pieces of theinterviews in as much context as possible. Whenever possible,41whole sentences or trains of thought were kept together andalways kept in the participants own words. Only when absolutelynecessary were sentences separated into different files when theyappeared to clearly represents different categories.Each section which was transferred into a different file wasmarked with the interview number, line number and page number sothat referring back to the context at any time was made easy. Atthis point the information was now contained in the context of myon own categories rather than in their original context, or wasrecontextualized (Dey, 1993).After assigning sections of the interviews to thesecategories the next process involved refining and focusing theanalysis. The purpose being to further clarify the data. Thisinvolved the two main tasks of splitting (subcatagorizing) andsplicing (combining) the information (Dey, 1990). Dey (1990)explains the intention of this process: “We split categories insearch for greater resolution and detail and splice them insearch for greater integration and scope” (p. 139).At this time, many of the present and future categories werecombined. For example, their descriptions of their present use ofalcohol and drugs were combined with their perceptions of theiruse of substances in the future. It was believed that much ofwhat they had described regarding their present lives providedgreat insight into the nature of their future outlooks. As well,some sections were divided into two or more categories. Finally,all the categories were then organized into one of fourpredominate themes which emerged— future life domains, fears,resistance and needs.42Credibility, Soundness and GeneralizabilityThe validity and reliability of this research has certainlimitations. However, these were not seen as particularlyproblematic for the purposes of this qualitative research. From aqualitative perspective, the emphasis is placed more heavily onthe credibility and soundness of this research.It was only within the parameters of this study’s particularsetting, population and theoretical framework that the dataacquired was intended to be valid. The purpose of this researchwas to explore the perceptions of the female First Nations youthwho were involved in this study and is not intended to begeneralizable to a population beyond these boundaries.By avoiding asking leading questions during the interviews,and following the earlier discussed guidelines for conductinginterviews, the credibility of the data was enhanced. Thecredibility of the information was further addressed byclarifying the meanings of responses during the interviews. Thegoal was to clearly understand the participants’ responses andthen to present them as authentically as they were expressed. Thepurpose primarily was to capture, as closely as possible, thefuture perception’s of those First Nations youth who wereinvolved in the study.As well, despite the fact that loss or change of meaning isunavoidable with any data analysis process, great effort was madeto minimize this. The exact words of the participants wereretained and the data analysis procedure has been welldocumented. In addition, the computer-based analysis likelyreduced the degree of this loss. There is support that the43“computer provides a partial reconciliation by allowing us toretain direct access to the context from which the data has beenabstracted” (Dey, 1990;p.128). Throughout the analysis processI was able to continual refer back to the original interviews tominimize the loss of context and meaning.Reliability, or the extent to which the same results wouldbe achieved under similar situations, is recognizable poor inthis, and most, qualitative research. However, from a qualitativeperspective the concern was more with addressing the soundness ofthis research. The soundness was improved by clearly andspecifically documenting each of the steps taken during theprocess of collecting the data. The interviews were also audio-taped to ensure the accuracy of the information and to reduce thebiases which could arise through other recording methods. Onlyone interviewer, myself, was used throughout this project. Thisincreased the likelihood that each interview was conducted in asimilar manner. Further, the analysis has been supported byverbatim quotations to support any inferences which have beenmade.Special ConsiderationsAs this was cross-cultural research it required someadditional considerations. Cross-cultural research refers toresearch which is conducted on one cultural group by someoneother than a member of that group. It was acknowledged at theonset that White people have consistently and erroneously definedand interpreted First Nations peoples’ experiences andsensitivity to this would be required. La Fromboise and Plake(1983) state in their article that, “Typically, AmericanIndians44are treated as sources of data rather than being invited tocontribute to the complete research venture, including problemformulation, interpretation of data and conclusions.”(p.45).This was kept in mind throughout the project and attempts weremade to address it.Every effort was made to consult with members of theAboriginal community with respect to the relevance of thisproject and the proposed methods of data collection and analysis.My principal research advisor was intricate to this process. Ashe is of Aboriginal decent, he was able to provide valuable inputwith respect to my chosen approaches and areas of inquirythroughout this process.I believed strongly that, despite being non- Aboriginalmyself, much could be gained through this research. An article inthe Vancouver Sun, by Dan Fergunson (1993), articulates myposition particularly well. He states:To say that-for example-native Canadians should be able totell their own stories makes perfect sense. To say that theportrayal of their life in books, news accounts and the artshas been obscenely distorted is, if anything, anunderstatement. But to say that no non-native should attemptto write about native life is senseless.He goes on to say,That inherently assumes that non-native writers and artistsare not capable of learning from the plays, books and songsnow being produced by native artists. If that is correctthere is no hope of reconciliation between native and nonnative cultures-we are doomed.It was believed from the beginning that this research wasvaluable and it would be possible to conduct it sensitively.Part of my preparation for this research involved extensiveresearch into the history of First Nations peoples in Canada and45the development of my understanding of the conditions which theyare presently facing. This was acquired through eighty hours ofuniversity course instruction in Native issues taught by aAboriginal professor. Forty hours of university instruction ongeneral cross cultural issues in social work. The attendance ofrelevant workshops and seminars and extensive reading of booksand viewing of videos on the topic. In addition, I drew upon myown knowledge and experience acquired through my work with FirstNation young offenders.I in no way propose to be an expert in the area of FirstNations issues. I hope only that I have educated my selfsufficiently to undertake this task. I am aware as well that I amstill in the process of understanding my own values andchallenging the biases I have been fully indoctrinated into as amember of the dominant culture. Being aware that my journey isone of a process and of enlightenment, I am aware that I riskmake erroneous assumptions and interpretations. I hope myongoing, critical self-analysis and reflection throughout thisproject assisted in providing an accurate description of theyouths’ perceptions that were shared with me.46Chapter 3: Findings/ResultsSome of the interviewsrevealed near inconceivablehardshipsfaced by these young women intheir day to day lives.One spokeof the effects of her sexualabuse and another disclosed havingbeen faced with two unexpectedpregnancies. Many spoke ofviolence and alcohol abuse whichhave affected their families.Several youth spoke about thedeath of family members or friendsand others about theirprevious contemplations ofsuicide.Despite these enormous struggles,the strength of theseyoung women echoed throughoutthe interviews. They spoke ofhopesand dreams for their futureswith determination andspirit. Theyspoke of better lives forthemselves and their children.Thedesire to remain connectedto their cultures and heritageswereclearly reflected intheir expressions.In the words ofthese young women, future outlookswhichwere permeatedby fears, yet balanced withdetermination,emerged. With thisglimpse into their futureoutlooks, as it seenthrough theireyes, common obstacles are revealed.It is hopedthat these young women’swords will provide greaterinsight intowhat it may be like forthis generation as theyface adulthood.This chapter beginswith a description ofthe participantsin this study. It willbe followed by a profile oftheir futureoutlooks as they relateto the major life domainsof work,education, relationshipsand leisure time.The next section willlook at theseyoung women’s fears.Their future outlookswhichreflected resistancetoward the destructiveforces in their liveswill then be presented.The final section willoutline theirperceived needs foracquiring their desiredfutures.47Extreme care has been taken to protect the identityof theparticipants, due to both their ages and thesensitive nature ofsome of the information they disclosed. Allof the youth have allbeen given pseudonyms to protect their privacyand thedescriptions of the participants are presentedin only a generalcontext.Description of ParticipantsThe following description of the participantswas obtainedfrom the respondent information whichwas gathered at the end ofthe interviews (see Appendix 9), along with someinformationwhich was disclosed during the interviews.(See Table 1 for asummary of the description of theparticipants.) The young womenranged from fifteen years oldto eighteen years old. The averageage of the participants was 16.8 yearsold. Nobody nineteen yearsold participated in the study.One of the participants hada child and two others indicatedthey had been pregnant in thepast. One young woman indicated shehad an abortion and another statedthat she had both an abortionand a miscarriage in her past.None of the participants statedthat they were married.Four of the participantslived in single parent familiesheaded by their mothers andone was living on her own. None ofthe participants lived withtheir fathers and two participantsindicated that their fatherswere deceased. Three of theparticipants indicated thatthey considered their familiesto beof lower economic status. Oneof the participants indicated thatshe believed her familyto be of medium economic status,but alsorevealed that her mother supportedher family on social48Table 1Description of ParticipantsUSEALCOHOL X X X X XUSE X X X XDRUGSEVER X X XPREGNANTLOW X X X XINCOMEOUTOF X X XSCHOOLNOT X X X X XWORKINGELIGIBLEFOR X X X X XSTATUS49assistance (this discrepancy perhaps reflects the sensitivenature of this question). The other teenager stated sheconsidered her family to be of medium economic status butemphasized that her family received added financial support froman individual outside of the family.Three of the young women were not attending school. The twothat were attending school were not participating in the regularschool system, but attended alternate school programs. None ofthe youth were employed, although several indicated they wereseeking employment. All, but one of these young women, indicatedthey have been involved in the justice system during theirteenage years.Determining the youths Aboriginal ancestry was difficult.Most of the participants were unsure of, or unable to pronounceor spell, the nations which they believeddescribed theirAboriginal ancestry. Through the youth’s descriptions, and someresearch on my own, the following nations were believed torepresented: Haisla, Babine, Carrier, Navaho (American),Shuswap,and West Coast (see Appendix 9 for a map of the nationsof B.C.).All of the participants indicated that they were eligibletobecome “Status Indians”, but only one had applied forandreceived it.Three youth described their alcohol use as frequent andtheother two as occasional. Nobodystated that she never usedalcohol. Two of the youth indicated that theyused cocaine andLSD occasionally and smoked marijuanafrequently. Only one youthstated that she never used any drugs. The other twoindicatedthat they used drugs occasionally.Having briefly established50some of the characteristics of the participants of this study, aprofile of their future perceptions as they relate to the majorlife domains will now be provided.Future Perceptions of the Malor Life DomainsThis section will provide a profile of the types of futuresthese young women perceived they would have with respect to themajor life domains of leisure time, relationships, work, andeducation. The predominate themes which emerged in these areaswill be presented and discussed in the context of their presentlives and relevant literature.Leisure TimeIn general, these youth had few ideas about what kinds ofthings they might do in the future with their leisure time. Otherthan spending time with friends, there were few activities theysaw themselves as being involved in. One of the young women wasamused by the question about what she might do for fun in thefuture and only knew what she likely wouldn’t be doing. Sheanswered while laughing, “I have no idea. I probably- for fun- Idon’t think I’d go out and party as much as I do now” (Shawna).Later she elaborated a little saying:I’d probably stay home, go out maybe once and a while withmy friends but not all the time, you know. Just like go outfor dinner or something. . . . (Shawna).Another youth stated that, “Sometimes I figure it’ll still be thesame. Go to dancing clubs and just be able to dance and umtravelling” (Lisa). Similarly, this young woman stated that shewould; “Probably just go out with friends and have a few drinks”(Kate). When asked if she thought she might do anything else sheresponded; “Probably not. Its about all I consider fun is,you51know, being with my friends” (Kate). Some of the other youngwomen seemed to be only able to reflect their awareness of whatactivities they saw other adults in their lives participating in:I’ll probably be playing a lot of bingo because on thereserve many of my relatives turn to bingo rather thanalcohol. So it’s like a lot of my Aunts and everybody elseon the reserve, it’s like bingo, bingo, everything’s bingo(Sarah).Probably go to the AA [Alcoholics Anonymous) dances. TheRichards dance- the North Shore dance. Go there. And a NorthShore Dance. They’re AA dances. I think that’s about it(Amanda).Neither of these two expressed any other interests or activitiesthey felt they might be involved in the future.These young women’s perceptions may of have been areflection of their limited awareness of their surroundingsas asource of amusement or entertainment. Likelylimited by a numberof factors including poverty, lack of self esteem, andrestrictedexposure to different activities, these youngwomen did notappear to perceive themselves as being involved in verymanyenjoyable activities in the future. Theseperceptions alsoreflected the intense sense of boredom that they appearedto beexperiencing in their current lives.An overall sense of repetitiveness emerged with respecttotheir current lives and most of the youthdescribed fairlyuneventful lives. As this young woman explained,“I really don’tdo anything. Sleep--- just sleep lots” (Lisa).These other youngwomen said this about theiruse of leisure time in the present:Um, I don’t know, just sit around andwatch T.V., talk to mymom and urn, I, don’t know, just make phonecalls (Sarah).Urn, I just try and come to school in themorning and then gohome, drop off all my books andeverything and then meet upwith friends and usually smoke abunch of weed, drink52sometimes. Go home (Kate).An average weekday to me is, I don’t know, getting upusually I try and plan things to make my day a bit more busybut it doesn’t really seem to turn out that way so, I don’tknow, I try and I’ll try and come to school for like acouple of hours and just do whatever and then I’ll go outwith my friends for the whole evening and come home and goto sleep, so it’s not really anything interesting.(Shawna).Rarely did any of these young women express being involved inactivities currently which were particularly important orinteresting to them, other than spending time with their friends.The importance of spending spare time with friends which wasexpressed in their future outlooks was also evident in theirpresent lives. As is common among many teenagers, visiting orspending time with friends was central to most of their lives.This youth described her average day as, “Urn, I just like tospend time with my family and friends” (Sarah), and this youthas, “Urn, I’m just always with friends. Either driving around orsitting in someone’s house” (Kate). She went on to say thisabouther friends:That’s about it now a days. Everyone’s kind of settled down.A lot of people are going to jail and stuff now. Quite a fewpeople getting arrested and stuff like- about half of myfriends are in jail now so we all just kind of settleddownand everything, stopped doing crime (Kate).This young women stated that, “. . . . all I do is justbasically out with friends all the time” (Shawna). She went on todiscuss some of things she and her friends might do:Urn, I don’t know we go driving around, it depends on what wewant to do. Usually we to like to like go party a lot, youknow, cause I don’t know we arejust like into that and wego out and we do things like meet new people and you knowbecause we like to be outside, like I don’t like to go sitin at somebody’s house. We like togo out and have fun andparty, and you know, find new things todo I guess. That’spretty well it (Shawna).53Another also expressed the same importance of being with herfriends:Just mostly we--- Well, the friends I’ve been hanging outwith just made me play basketball. Play basketball, go tothe movies and go to the dance. Well, somewhere to dance.Anywhere, just as long as we can dance and be together.Pretty well all we do is dancing and play basketball(Laughs) (Lisa).Given the importance placed on friends in the present, it isunderstandable that they perceived this would continue on intothe future.RelationshipsThe young women in this study were asked if they thoughtthey might ever get married in the future. In retrospect, thisquestion clearly reflected my own dominant-culture bias thatmarriage would be desirable. Nevertheless, much was revealedabout their perceptions of marriage, men and relationships.An effort was made to discuss these issues without implyinga reference to only heterosexual marriages or relationships.However, it is realized that marriage is almost exclusivelyinterpreted as referring to heterosexual couples in contemporarysociety. As may be expected, all of the youth interpreted thequestions related to this as referring to relationships with theopposite sex.Although all of the youth assumed they would be involvedina relationship in the future, they expressed a significantapprehension towards the idea of ever being married in thefuture. Some were quite adamant that they never wantedto bemarried stating things like: “No. I am not going to get married.Nope. Probably common-law, but I am not going toget married”54(Amanda). She further explained; “Well, I think you don’t need aring to be with somebody. Just be with them instead of having aring and everything”. Similarly, this young woman did not seeherself ever getting married in the future: “I can picture myselfhaving---um ---not married, but a boyfriend that I can live withand take care of me and I might have children” (Sarah). Althoughnot quite as adamant, this adolescent also expressed considerableapprehension towards the idea of marrying in her future:Married? I can’t see myself getting married. I rememberalways telling myself, like last year, “I’m never gettingmarried. I swore to myself, “I am never getting married.”Cause I always thought, “if I am getting married I will begetting a divorce. Just forget it.” But then I think well,I think that I could be married for a long time. So, it’shard to say like in a way I hope I am too but I still don’tlike marriage too much. (Lisa)The following two teenagers said this about being married in thefuture:Not legally. I wouldn’t want to get legally married but whenI get a stable job and everything maybe because I want tohave kids. . . . (Kate).I don’t know if I want to be married. Like I want to bemarried but its not like something that’s really on my mind.So it doesn’t really matter to me if I am or if I’m not(Shawna).She, however, later reconsidered her position somewhat during theinterview and explained;If I was married I think that would be good like because,you know, then I’d have somebody there to, you know, helpme. Somebody to help me and to talk to and stuff like that,• • • I mean, but if I don’t have a husband I am not goingto get all upset and depressed over it, you know. Even justlike a boyfriend I guess would be good (Shawna).In general, however, the idea of marriage appeared to beassociated with negative consequences, such as abuse, divorce orthe destruction of a relationship.55Many of the young women had either experienced orwitnessednegative outcomes with respect to relationships or marriages.This young woman spoke about the physical abuse she had witnessedin relationships;Um---I probably wouldn’t want to be married with him becauseof other relationships that I’ve seen happen. Like mycousin’s friend for instance, she’s living with herboyfriend and she does get beaten--- And I just can’tpicture myself going through that (Sarah).Another who said, “I would never want to get legally marriedbecause it would just be to much hassle” (Kate), marriage simplymeant divorce. She explained, “Well, if I had to go through adivorce and if it just doesn’t work out or something”. Anothersaw marriage in itself as capable of destroying relationships;It’s just sometimes it seems like marriage really destroys arelationship. Seems I’ve seen a lot a of couples be togetherfor a long time. As soon- like they could be together likefor five years and as soon as they get married even betogether for only like two- and they’ll be divorced. And Iam like, “why did you guys get married, you were so happy?”It’s like no, forget it. I am not getting married. Just, Idon’t know I don’t know what it is. I just don’t likemarriage, the sound of marriage. The commitment and to holdsomebody for permanence and marriage and that. I can’t(Lisa).Their perceptions that marriage would likely not be safe, secureor supportive, were clearly based on experience.None of these young women had parents who had experiencedsuccessful marriages either, undoubtedly making them even moreapprehensive about marriage. These young women appeared to havebeen exposed to relatively few models of healthy relationshipseither inside the institution of marriage or outside of it.Although all of the young women did express that relationshipsthat are stable and supportive would be desirable in theirfutures, especially for raising children, they clearly did not56see marriage as a method of providing this.These perceptions were also being reinforced in some oftheir current relationships. This youth explained why she didn’twant to be in a relationship at the present time:.boyfriends are good, but not- I don’t know, it’s likeso hard to like find somebody that you want because then,you know, like sometimes it doesn’t work out the way youwant and something bad happens and then you guys enduphaving a grudge or whatever so it’s not that good (Shawna).Another spoke at length about how difficult her currentrelationship was:So with this relationship- I rarely ever have relationshipsthey’re usually just flings I guess. So, I started seeingthis guy I am going out with now and we started talkingabout having a relationship and he made it clearto me thathe wanted communication. And I said you know, “Okay,”because like I’ve never been able to like I told him,I’venever been able to talk to my boyfriends. I’ve never beenable to open up. I said, “normally I’ll run like if youaskme to talk I’ll run.” And he said, “I hope you don’tdothat.” So we’ve been trying to talkbut we just about brokeup once cause I wasn’t talking and I really thought aboutit(Lisa).She also suggested that having watchedher mother in herrelationships has added to her difficulties:Like I grow watching my mom and my mom Iremember neverseeing my mom talking too much to her boyfriend. Andshe’dalways run and hide. Like just running from things it’stheeasiest way (Lisa).She further explained:So I grew up thinking you know if somebody’s tryingto talkto me I just say, “Yeah whatever.” Just walk awaythinkingit’s the easiest way to go just run. ButI find its not theeasiest way to go because I always get hurtin the long run(Lisa).Another youth explained her difficultywith inter-personalrelationships in the following way:• . • . so like I usually use this maskto hide all myfeelings inside . • . . A lot of peoplecall it using amask. . . . I usually do---I don’t know---I guess I use the57mask a lot (Sarah).Clearly, some of these young women found sharing their feelingsand communicating in relationships quite difficult.Although this question was never directly asked in any ofthe interviews, two of the young women indicated that they hadbeen abused by men in their pasts. One did not provide details,but she suggested that the abuse she had experienced from men inthe past made it difficult for her to be in relationships:The abuse I’ve taken from men is like you know I just can’treally, I can’t trust men. So I am not going to talk to myboyfriends. So like just sit there, closure it off throw mywalls downs and just let him be mad at me. “It’s okay,” andlaugh it off and,”it will be okay.” End up getting hurt anyway because he always ends up getting mad and saying, “wellI am going to leave now.” (Lisa).This next young woman accounted the disturbing effects of havingbeen sexual abused three times by men in her past. She madeseveral references to the reoccurrence of nightmares that sheexperiences as a result of the abuse. She responded at one pointwith the following:Um---like um---I am hoping nightmares would get better---like I’ve been sexually abused three times and just Iharshly got into my drugs my alcohol especially after myGrandmother passed away (Sarah).She also revealed that one of the abuses resulted in an unwantedpregnancy explaining that;But I didn’t want to keep it because it was from somebodywho sexually abused me. After four months I found out that Iwas pregnant I went downtown and I knew this ex—doctor, paidhim some money to get rid of it (Sarah).Their exposure to abusive relationships in both their ownpersonal lives and in their family lives likely hascontributedto their negative perceptions about marriage and theirdifficulties in their present relationships.58Clearly, the abuses that some of these women haveexperienced by men in their pasts have affected many aspects oftheir lives, including their current relationships and theirideas about the ones they will be involved in the future. Thedevastating affects of sexual abuse, and other abuses from men,likely will continue far into their futures.Occupational AspirationsAll the youth wanted to be involved in paid work in thefuture. For the most part, the desired occupations were intraditionally female dominated areas. As this young woman stated,“And then I see myself, like I want to be a nurse. . . .“(Shawna). Or another as; “Well hopefully I’ll be getting up inthe morning to come to school to teach” (Kate). These othersexplained;I am hoping I’d have a job. I don’t know what as. There’slots that I’d like to be, you know, art work is one thingthat I like dancing is another, hairdressing and then I eventhought about the law, being a lawyer (Lisa).Um--- just like, ah--- and sometimes I can picture myselflooking after um elderly people in the hospital and umvoluntary work in a hospital (Sarah).With only a few exceptions, they saw themselves as becomingeither a teacher, hairdresser, nurse, social worker.There also appeared to be a significant desire to be inoccupations which involved working with children. As this youngwoman who wanted to become a teacher explained, “I like workingwith kids and stuff . . . . [in) an alternate school”(Kate). Orthis youth, “Yeah. And probably a job. Day care” (Amanda).Another also expressed the same interest in working withchildrenin her future occupation:59• . . . or like I want to do something to help youngerchildren, even if it’s just like being a social worker or afoster parent or anything like that (Shawna).Most of their ideas about future employment reflected desires tobe caretakers or educators, both of which are fairlystereotypical expectations for women.None of these young women were working at the time theinterviews were conducted. When asked if she had employment, thisyouth responded, “Probably later in my life I am going to work”(Amanda). Another stated this about work in her present life:Not really. I have like all the things I need to go to workbut it’s not like- I have resumes and a social insurancecard and everything, but it’s not like- I haven’t gone outand actually looked for a job (Shawna).And the added;Well, I don’t really go and look for a jobs, but I want toget a job because I know I have to, but sometimes I likejust babysit and stuff like that, like in the summer times Igo and get a job (Shawna).Another youth simply responded, “I haven’t actually worked .•“ (Sarah). Two of them did indicate that they had worked in thepast and both of these were in child care positions;Last summer I babysat for my mom’s friend and she had towork in the mornings, and all that, so like in the summertime I couldn’t go out as much with my friends cause I wasgetting up at six o’clock in the morning to go babysit atseven and so if I did I’d be like pulling all fighters andstuff like that so I couldn’t really go out and do things(Shawna).I used to work for a day care in West Vancouver.Um, used to be a leadership job, W.O.W. program [a paidwork experience program for youth out of school] and I usedto walk to work and back home. It was just about a mile eachmorning (Sarah).Overall, their experiences in the job market had been fairlylimited. Those who had worked had been involved the traditionallyfemale-dominated occupation of child care.60Their future perceptions, and present experiences in the jobmarket, are clearly reflections of the overall limitations thatwomen have experienced traditionally in the work force. It iswell known that historically women have been segregated intocertain occupational categories (usually lower paying and lesssecure) (Wilson, 1991). This trend is not limited to thispopulation, however, it does appear that it may be morepronounced among the females that were interviewed for thisresearch.A recent study which looked at female adolescents1perceivedfuture occupations found that many young women believed theywould be involved in non- traditional occupations (Baker, 1985).The researcher concluded that increasingly young women feel lessconstrained by traditional expectations of women’s work. However,the youth in this study did not appear to reflect this change inperception.Educational AspirationsFor these women, education was recognized as beingimportant, however, they were uncertain about how successfullythey could achieve their educational goals in the future. All ofthe young women had ambitions about furthering their education,but they continually acknowledged the difficulties they hadexperienced in the past or anticipated in the future.Most of the emphasis was placed on trying to complete gradetwelve sometime in the future. This young woman said that, in thefuture, “I’d hopefully finish school . . . . Probably only dograde twelve” (Amanda). Or this youth; “Um---probably like nightschool or something just ah to catch up on the school work that I61never actually worked at” (Sarah). Another explained:Cause I want to try and finish, urn, finish high school-finish grade twelve anyway- finish grade nine to twelve. Iam sure I’ll probably finish grade nine and then finish andthat’s as far as I got my future. Just finish grade twelveand from there I’ll, I don’t know, I’ll try and figure outwhere I am going (Lisa).Although not with as much certainty, most of the youth didexpress hoping they would go on to complete some postsecondaryeducation.The following are exerts of three of the young women talkingabout their ideas about attending school after completing gradetwelve:Well, right now on my mind is finishing school, goingtocollege and going maybe to university, although its notgoing to be like- I know it’s going to be hard for mebecause right now I have to get myself in order to go,butlike- because like I know it’s one of mytop priorities thatI have to get. . . . And then maybe like take a yearoffafter graduating and like find a job that I like that Iaminterested in and then once I have-you know, when I am allfinished there I can go to college andtake a couple coursesand then see what I can get and then maybe, maybeby then Imight have had changed my views or something,maybe I foundsomething better or something, than beinga nurse (Shawna).Yeah. I was just talking about that today with my teacher.He said it would take four years of university. So itsnotvery long, you know (Kate).Yeah and I am hoping that I’ll already have a coupleyearsof college or something in there,at least some sort ofdegree. College, have something done withmy life. Havesomething accomplished (Lisa).However, she said this aboutuniversity:I don’t know. It’s sometimes I thinkits useless going [togo to university]. Well, only if I go if I canget furtherin my life but then um I don’t knowit’s really hard to saycol- university’s nothing reallybig in my life. If it’s onmy list, it’s probably way on the bottom.Just college orsomething like that (Lisa).Although they recognized the importanceof education, clearlyschool had not been a positive experiencefor any of them.62Many of the youth simply were not attending school saying,“I am not in school right now but I’m going to--- I signed up”(Amanda). Or, “I haven’t actually signed up for school this year,I am supposed to be in Grade nine, I failed grade nine last year”(Sarah). Another explained:No. Right now I am just trying- I am doing an assessmenttest, one of those adult---basic----[Education]. . . I amdoing one of those right now at home to try and find outwhat grade level I am at and try and get into the Native Ed.or King Ed. (Lisa).The others who were attending school suggested that it wasnot always easy and they often experienced many difficulties:Doing grade nine, I’m getting really bored of it cause, Idon’t know, when I first started coming here I did a lot ofwork and because I was really determined to get my gradeeight done really fast and I got it all done in a month nowI’m just working on more of my English and I’ll probablygetstarted on my math and socials and stuff (Kate).Well, I dropped out like in grade nine and- about two yearsago, and I’ve been in and out of school (coughs)- and halfway through grade nine I dropped out, so I was thinking thatI could only like maybe catch up doing like half of gradenine and then start my grade ten but then I’ve been in andout of schools, like all these different schools.When asked to explain further why she had attended so manyschools she stated the following:Why? I don’t know. It’s just cause I guess I just had tofind something that I liked. Like cause if I’m notinterested then I won’t you knowgo there all the time andif I don’t feel comfortable I won’t showup (Shawna).Although these youth inherently understood that education wouldbe important factor in their future, their experiences in theschool system had not generally been positive. The ones that weremanaging to attend school continual struggled tomaintain theirinterest and attendance.Their negative experiences inthe school system is not63entirely surprising. A considerable amount of research has beendone on First Nations students and their involvement in theEuropean educational institutions. Many have concluded that thecurrent systems rarely meet the needs of First Nations childrenor youth (Atleo, 1991). Explanations for this have focused on thediffering learning styles and world views of First Nationsstudents which make the current educational models not suited forFirst Nations individuals.Atleo (1991), however, emphasizes that the First Nations’educational failures have more to do with contextual factors. Inparticular, Atleo (1991) suggests that it is the exclusion ofFirst Nations peoples socially, politically and economicallywhich more directly effects the low levels of academicachievement for First Nations peoples.As with other areas of their future orientations, theseyoung women placed great emphasis on themselves as being thefactor for their lack of success in school. Not being aware ofsome of the historical and contextual factors which have effectedthis lack of success, means that many of these young woman likelybelieve it is a personal deficiency. As a result, their lack ofsuccess in school undoubtedly diminishes their self esteem andself worth.Fears About The FutureThere were several significant things that these youngfeared with respect to their futures. A disturbing fear ofnotmaking it to adulthood emerged. A fear of losing people closetothem also arose. Finally, a tremendous fear with respectto drugsand alcohol use in their futures was evident. These fears,as64they were expressed by these young women, are presented in thissection. Again, they are placed in the context of their presentlives to provide greater insight into their existence.Fear of Not Being Alive in the FutureOverall, these youth experienced incredible difficultiesenvisioning themselves in the future. They often struggled topicture what it would be like in the future and even occasionallydoubted if they would be alive at all then. One young womansimply responded when asked if she could describe an average dayin her future with: “No I can’t I can’t” (Lisa). Sheexplained further why it was so hard to look ahead into herfuture:But, I don’t know, there’s so many changes that could happenbetween now and then. So and I can’t even— I can’t evenlook to Sunday and see what I am going to be doing on Sunday(Lisa).I don’t know. I don’t like to look too far ahead. EvenSunday seems too far ahead. So just go step by step and goby hour by hour and see what happens next. It seems a lot oftimes like I can make a plan, make some plans out, this iswhat I am going to do and this is what is going to happenand something just totally changes it and it doesn’t happen.So, forget it I am not making plans anymore. It never worksout so I am just not going to bother anymore. Just go, seewhat happens (Lisa).She seemed to feel that if she planned or looked forward toanything in her life she would only be disappointed. A notedlypessimistic outlook for someone so young and likely a reflectionof repeated disappointments or let downs in her life.Another youth also expressed a similar approach to lifestating, “I usually just go day by day. Whatever happens,happens” (Kate). She appeared to feel that she had little controlover the events that would occur in her future. At one point65(after describing the type of employment she hoped for in thefuture) this youth even commented that in her future she: “Mightbe dead by then. It could be worse” (Kate). Unpredictability andlack of stability in their lives obviously effected theseperceptions.The difficulty with envisioning themselves in the future waseven more pronounced for some of these young women. Thoughts ofsuicide were evident, ultimately hindering their ability to lookinto their future. This young woman captured, perhaps more thanany other, how difficult it was to look into her future;Sometimes I can’t picture myself in the future. Sometimes Ican’t picture myself being twenty years old--- urn---Sometimes I can just picture myself in the spirit world---together with my ancestors and my uncles and my Grandmotherand my Grandfather (Sarah).When asked what one of her fears in the future might be, shereplied,Urn--- being not able to carry on with my life. Like---sometimes I think the dreams [from the sexual abuse] willnever stop and they’ll get worse. Like I’ve been suicidalquite a few times in the past--- (Sarah).She was unfortunately not the only youth in this small samplethat made reference to having been suicidal in her past. Anotheryouth explained:Somebody was asking me if I ever thought of suicide anymorecause, you know, I have my daughter to live for mydaughter’s too precious to me. The only time I’d ever thinkof suicide is if I lost my daughter--- But I used to thinkit was just I--- lot of times I used to think I would justdo it but then it was for attention I think. You know,because I remember always trying- I did it when I wasdrinking most of the time. It was only because I was drunkand the attention and- but I used to always make it clear topeople I knew what I was doing and I know that people caredlike I always told myself, it’s only me that doesn’t care.You have to start caring, and you know I know other peoplecare. I know my mom and them love me. I know I have friendswho care a lot about me. Its me that doesn’t care and stuff.66And I remember always saying that when I was really drunk,didn’t matter how drunk I was you know, I’d still remembersaying that. But I don’t want to take that road again. I wason that road for a long time (Lisa).She also revealed that she had witnessed this pattern in her ownparents;And watching my mom and my dad, my morn and my dad did thatto me a lot. Saying that they were going to kill themselvesyou know. But they pull that, “but you don’t care about me”and it’s like “my god, okay, whatever, see you guys around”(laughs) (Lisa).The level of despair among these youth can not be denied. As wasnoted earlier in the literature review, First Nations youth areat extreme risk of taking their own lives and these young womendid nor appear to immune to this fact.Fear of Losing PeopleThese youth were also concerned about losing peopleclose tothem in the future. For two of the youth, this was expressedasone of their greatest fears about their futures. This youthstated her greatest fear in the future was; “Probably losing onemy friends or my mom” (Amanda). Another youth respondedto thesame question with:Just not having my mother there because she’s diabetic.That’s how my Grandmother passed away. Thedisease that shehad, diabetic, and that’s very common in my family.I, don’tknow, it’s just like itcould be like any day, it could belike tomorrow my mom passesaway. Like it could happenanytime for a diabetic person. I fear not havingmy momthere. It’s like taking care ofmy brother--- urn--- I don’tknow, just not having mymother here is what I am worriedabout in the future (Sarah).Death did not appear to be at all uncommon inthese women’slives. For young people,these women had already experienced morethan their share of losing people closeto them. Accounts of thedeaths of friends and families emergedthroughout the interviews.67This youth, who had earlier revealed that her father hadalso died when she was younger, talked about recently losing twoof her friends:• . . like a year ago my friend died and he got stabbedright and he was a really good friend of mine too and it wason Robson and it just it’s-. . . . (Shawna).She explained,He was [age] and he had like to do, he had something to dowith the Spanish gang and so, you know, these guys come upand they think, you know, we’ll beat them up you know, we’regoing to beat them up like they’re going to be big and toughand then they go and like this guy and like stabbed him(Shawna).It was and then again my other friend died, seems like somany of my friends are dying it’s so bad, cause my friendhe got in a car accident and he died. (Shawna)Another youth spoke about losing her grandmother to diabetes andthe effect it had in her life:Like we used to go there and visit her every morning on myway to school or something because she lived a couple ofbuildings away and it’s kind of different because specialoccasions do not really seem like special occasions withoutmy Grandmother here. Like my birthday didn’t really seemlike it was my birthday . . . . Christmas didn’t seem likeChristmas at all. Like I didn’t want any presents oranything but I accepted them because I wanted my brothers tohave a good time on Christmas and birthdays and all that.(Sarah).She also talked about her grandfather’s death as well,I never met my Grandfather. Urn, my sister, she’s born thesame day that my Grandfather passed away so my Grandfathergot to carry my sister before he passed onto the spiritworld. I just thought that she’s real lucky (Sarah).One of the other young women, who had also disclosed her fatherwas deceased, stated that, “It [heroine] killed my Uncle” (Kate).Losing people was almost commonplace in these young people’slives likely adding to their fears that they would lose peopleclose to them in the future.68Fear of Drugs and AlcoholRepeatedly, when looking into their futures, the fear ofdrugs or alcohol destroying their lives emerged. When asked whather biggest fear in the future might be this youth replied;“Well, I don’t know. Probably drugs and alcohol. I don’t like it”(Amanda). The young women expressed strong desires to avoid thedetrimental effects of alcohol and drugs in their future. Thisyoung woman said:Well, at the rate I’m going I don’t want to become anacholic or anything cause that could screw up my educationand if I don’t get my education, and get good grades andwhat not then I won’t have a good career (Kate).Another spoke about how she intended on ensuring she would notfollow her mother’s pattern of alcohol abuse,My biggest fear. End up falling back down a few stairs. 3usturn going- taking the same road as my mom did. Not being ableto help myself right away. Not noticing problems as early.But I notice, I really watch what I do. But my morn, I don’twant to take the same road as my mom did. Cause she’s38 andtook her that long, you know, to finally realize she has aproblem. So, I take a look at myself every day thinking, youknow, “do I have a problem? Am I raising my daughter wrong?Am I okay? Am I physically okay? Am I mentally okay?” andtry recognize them and try and do something about it (Lisa).Another described her plans to avoid suffering the consequencesof abusing alcohol or drugs in her future:That’s like scares me, cause like if I go out and partywithmy friends and you like start doing all these bad thingsandthen you just want to do it more, and then you endup doingit everyday, and then you end up doing it every month, andthen it’s going to keep on continuing and then you won’tbeable to stop. So that’s like what scares me, so that’s why Isay party on the weekends, you know, that’s good, but ifyoukeep on- like if you drink every day- like my friend shedrinks like every day and that’s bad and that’snot likewhat I want, you know, cause your just going to wantto doit more and more and more and by the time I am like thirtyfive or whatever for all I know my liver couldbe bad andI’ll have to get a surgery andget a new one, or something’swrong with my heart or something’s wrongwith my mind, youknow, like anything can happen (Shawna).69These youth appeared to be acutely aware of the dangers ofalcohol and drug abuse. They clearly believed that a good futurewas one which did not involve substance abuse.The use of drugs and alcohol, however, emerged as aconsistent factor in their present lives. This youth stated, “Ismoke a lot of weed. I smoke weed every day” (Kate). When askedwhat her weekends consisted of she explained: “About the same.Drinking, smoking weed going home and listening to my motherbitch” (Kate). Another explained her use of drugs in thefollowing way:It’s not like- it’s not like we go and do them everyday butit’s like if they’re there then I guess we’ll do some butit’s not like we are going to go out- . . . . (Shawna).She described the types of drugs she utilized as; “It’s likemarijuana, coke, extacy, but I don’t do heroin” (Shawna).Interesting, two of the youth specifically stated that theirlimit with respect to drug use was never using heroine: “Yeah.And I know one thing I am never going to do heroine” (Kate);I am like totally against that [using heroine]. See that’slike- I have my like- you know, it’s people they don’t haveanything in their mind to tell them when to stop. Like Ihave my limits. Like I know right from wrong. Like ifsomebody’s going to tell me, “here do this heroine,” I amgoing to say, “No. No.” Cause I am against that, I don’t dothat (Shawna).Perhaps this reflected some false sense that they were in controlof their drug use. As if, as long as they did not use heroine,their drug use would remain manageable and acceptable.Some of the youth also spoke of their excessive alcohol ordrug use as having been in their past, suggesting perhaps acertain degree of denial:Well, before a couple of weeks ago it was drinking. Go out70and drink, go home sleep. I quit drinking abouttwo weeksago now. But we still go to the bars.Still go down, hangout with the friends, our friends. Just go toRay’s and hangout and then go home. Or else we’ll go to aparty and stickwith our friends until six in the morning and then decide togo home (Lisa).• . . . it was like really bad before like last year, likelast year was really bad for us. Me and my friend we’dlikego out and drink everyday and get drunk andlike next day ifthere’s no alcohol we’ll go get high and we’ll be likethatfor a whole three months and not go to school (Shawna).Urn, I started in hard drugs like cocaine, started usingcocaine with my friends. We used to stay out all nightsometimes for a couple of days. One time I stayed out forabout a week just partying it up. I don’t like to sleep. So,it’s like some drugs that just don’t--- just make you feelawake doesn’t make you tired or anything. So, it’s like Iusually like to stay awake knowing that I am not going tohave a nightmare and wake up crying or something or wake uppissed off (Sarah).For her, and probably the others, using drugs was obviouslydeeply entwined with her desires to escape the pain in her life.Drug and alcohol abuse had touched the lives of all theseyoung women. All of the youth revealed substance abuse amongmembers of their families. As this young women revealed whenconsidering what effects drugs and alcohol might have in her ownfuture:My family life cause everyone in my family life they allhave drinking problems and it just screws my family right upand I want that to change (Kate).Well, it makes everyone distant and you know just makeseveryone act different. You know my family will have wildparties and it will get violent and I just think there is noneed for it (Kate).Other’s also spoke of the drug and alcohol abuse among members oftheir families. The impact of her mother’s alcohol abuse in thisyoung woman’s life was almost inconceivable. She described hermother’s drinking in the following way:So and she [her mother] used to do a lot of that [drink].71She drank lots in front of us. And I mean she wasn’t justdrinking casually she drank to the point where she’s fallingdown, not remembering anything and trying to pick a fightwith me and then she’d take off (Lisa).She further explained the effects that her mother’s drinking hadon her and her family:Cause it got to a point where I had to take her kids awayfrom her. I was living in her house but I stilltook herkids away from her And I went and stayed at an aunty’splace. And I am walking out with her kids and she’s drinkingand I kept saying “well, I am taking your kids,” andyouknow she got to the point- itgot to the point where she wassaying “okay, I don’t care.” I was 17. And you know I was,“you don’t care? Is that how much of an alcoholic you arewhere you don’t care about your kids now?” (Lisa).Another also spoke about how alcohol abuse had affected herfamily in the past:Yeah, and like he [mother’s boyfriend) usedto be analcoholic and like I’ve seen mymom get beat up by him andall that, right, but it’s like they got all thatsettled andnow he’s been like- he hasn’t hada drink in like 8 years(Shawna).Surrounded by the negative effects of substanceabuse in theirfamilies lives undoubtedly enhanced their fearsabout thesepotentially occurring in their futures.Many First Nations peoples and families becomevictims ofsubstance abuse because of the intolerable conditionsunder whichthey live. The severe economic, political and socialdisadvantages that so many of themexperience often makes alcoholor drugs an accessible anddesirable escape. These young womenseemed to be frighteningly aware ofthe possible risk of becomingsubstance abusers as adults.ResistanceDespite the enormous fears andhardships that wereexpressed, these young womendemonstrated a strong resistance72toward the many destructive forces in their lives. Many of theirfuture desires reflected incredible yearnings to alter theircurrent situations. Discussing some of these young women’s futureperceptions in the context of resistance is particularlypertinent to this population. First Nations peoples havedemonstrated resistance throughout history. This perspectivehighlights that, despite the overwhelming obstacles faced by thisyoung population, they are strong and determined. They areunwilling to passively accept their disadvantaged situations.A strong resistance towards the breakdown of their familiesand the loss of their roots and cultures emerged. As well, theyexpressed sincere hopes of providing better lives for their ownand other peoples’ children. These themes which are related toresistance are presented in this section.Resisting the Breakdown of Their FamiliesMaintaining connections to their families were significantto these young in their futures, despite the obvious obstacleshindering this. This young woman saw the most important thing inher future as being; “Urn, let’s see--- basically, just takingcare of my family. My brothers and my sister” (Sarah). She alsoexplained that one of her greatest desires in the future was,“Just to have my family together” (Sarah). Another spoke abouther connection to her family in the future inthe following way,Yeah. I am sure me and my mom, mybrothers and sisters willstill all be really close. Like urn like inanother town Iknow we’ll be close somehow. We’llalways be like- we arenot, like you know, we are not going tobe moving likeprovinces and provinces over. We’ll always bea hop, skipand a jump away. So like— and Ican’t separate from my mom.It’s really hard and I know I won’tbe able to so (Lisa).Yeah. Yeah. And my brother and sister I know they won’t73separate either cause they’re just so, I don’t know, they’rejust so--- They got a lot of love and they’re just- theyjust don’t like to be alone. So I know they’ll be around allthe time (Lisa).As this youth alluded to, a particularly strong desire tomaintain connections with siblings emerged from the interviews.This youth explained this about her bother and sister: “Idon’t know, they’re always ahead of me. Like I always put themahead of myself, before myself (Sarah)”. One of the other youngwomen explained the involvement she thought she would have withher family in the future:My sister would be. My sister- my sister is my life and mymom she’ll probably be the same as she is now- you know notaround that much (Kate).Another expressed great concern for her younger brother andwished she could do more for him:I like, I feel bad cause like my little brother, I don’tspend any time with him, like I never do anything with himat all. I see him and I’ll talk to him for 5 minutes andthen I’ll have to go again and then I come home and he’s inbed, or I’ll come home and he’s out playing with his friendsand it’s like when he wakes up in the morning I’m stillsleeping and so he goes out and plays and then when I wakeup he’s home and then I’m getting ready to go out and thenwhen I come home he’s sleeping so I don’t like--- I neverspend time with him, but I know I should. . . . like I havethis guilty conscience on me that I should go do things withhim (Shawna).In general, these young women placed great importance on theirrelationships with family members.However, for many of them the connection to their familiesdid not appear to be that strong in their current lives. Infact,family breakdown appeared to be a factor in all these youthslives and many expressed a lack of support from theirfamily: “Meand my family aren’t close” (Kate), and, “. . . Idon’t really- Idon’t know, all my mom’s around for isto give me a place to live74somewhere to eat and money” (Kate). She further explained,Well, its just me and my mom and she has a friend stayingwith her at our house and, I don’t know, nobody’s reallythere that much except for at night time (Kate).Two others also expressed similar types of relationshipswith their families: “They’re [her family]--- just there. That’spretty well it (Lisa), and;Cause I think our family is like sort of like, not driftingapart, but we all have our busy days and then you know whenit’s a family night we just sit there and watch T.V., notlike we go and have dinner like we used to. Like when weyounger my mom used to take us out for dinner all the timeand we used to go do things, go shopping, go here and there,but now it’s like, when my mom and her boyfriend, when theygo camping, you know, I am not a part of it. (Shawna).This same youth also spoke later about the lack of involvementher father had in her life,I mean when I was younger he [her Dad] always wanted to takeme to (Town), right. He always wanted to take me there buthe was like never there for me, you know. Only for- onlyfrom like when I was a baby to the age four when my mom andthem got separated (Shawna).Not surprisingly, as a result of this, some of these youngwomen had repeatedly left home:Well I was--- I lived at home for awhile I am supposed to bein care but I didn’t want to live there. I was living withmy boyfriend for a while and then I moved back home and homeis okay, it’s better than before (Amanda).Another described her experience while she was in care of theMinistry of Social Services:Well, supposed to be [living] in group homes but usuallynot. Just with friends and what not. I go to them sometimesbut like in the past two years my life has changed a lot.I’ve gotten into drinking, drugs and what not and for awhilethere I was getting pretty bad, out doing crime and beatingpeople up and its not worth it (Kate).She also suggested that this period was difficult for her motheras well;75Yeah. My mom is, you know, she tries and but, I don’tknow, I guess its hard for her too cause, you know, Ijust moved back home in December (Kate).Despite all these factors that had pulled their families apartthey were acutely aware of the importance of remaining connectedto their family members in the future. They were determined tomaintain contact with their families.Resisting the Loss Their Culture and RootsAll of the youth expressed a sense of loss with respect totheir cultures and traditional cultural practices: “Well, I don’tdance. I don’t know how to” (Amanda). Another said;Well, I go up North sometimes to visit my Grandfather andthere’s powwows and stuff like that sometimes I go to and-there’s not really much. Most our culture is lost like noone of this generation knows much about it (Kate).Well just, you know, there’s not really much cause- mostlyjust go hunting and fishing with my grandfather. I’m tryingto learn the Native language and stuff but there’s nothingwritten about it like about the language so its just likemore or less from what the elders know (Kate).One of the other young women explained the loss of her parent’sculture and her struggle to pass some of it on to her daughter:I am not really into my mom’s or my dad’s culture becausethey’re both from the coast and we don’t see our family toooften so we can’t and there’s none of us. Like I want to tryand get into my mom’s and started learning the language andstart teaching my daughter. So I want to try and teach herthe language and teach myself. But otherwise nothing isreally there just the powwows, that’s about it (Lisa).This young women explained how she had little exposure to herculture growing up:• . • . cause I’ve grown up with out it in my life and likeI want to learn about it but not so I am all into it,because I been growing up without it all my life so itsgoing to be weird to actually go after it now. Like if I’dbeen there, like if it had been in my life then it’d be adifferent story. I’d probably like know more about it, I’dprobably get into it but not that much anymore (Shawna).76Like I never like knew what to do, like how to learn itcause like most of them were like brought up in like, youknow- when people ask me questions about my culture I’m justlike, “Well I don’t know,” you know, cause I don’t know whatto say cause I wasn’t brought up like that, like on areserve or anything like that, like my dad was. I was justborn like downtown and I had all my friends and we are alllike, you know, like different and like we had all ourdifferent cultures, like I was a mixture of this and that’sjust how it was. Like we were all friends like, you know, wedidn’t really think about that at the time (Shawna).Despite the losses they had experienced, all of the youth wantedtheir culture to be some part of their lives in the future.Although at varying degrees, each youth expressed this.All of the youth saw being involved in First Nationscultural practices as playing some role in their futures. Mosthoped they would become more involved then they were presently:“I think it’d be more. I’d probably be more into travellingthanI am now” (Sarah). She further explained,Yeah. I think I’d have my own traditional suit madeby then.Like sometimes it takes awhile to even fix up a traditionalsuit like some people they take about a year or somethingjust to add those little things to----to--- [decorate it].Yeah, and joining the traditional dancers and competingagainst other dancers. Like I already started---like justthis last Saturday I borrowed a shawl and started competingagainst other dancers already. So, I can picture myselfcompeting against other dancers (Sarah).In fact, she stated one of her strongest hopes for the futurewas, “That I become a traditional dancer” (Sarah). Similarly,another explained she would participate in cultural activities,A lot more than now. I’m going to (area) this summerandhopefully I’ll be learning a lot more about my culturefrommy family up there because they know a lot more aboutitthen any of my family down here (Kate).She further explained that, “Ijust want to know about my cultureand stuff. I don’t know, I don’t wantit to be lost” (Kate).Another also felt strongly that it would be a moreimportant77aspect of her life in the future:Yeah, I am sure. I’ll probably be more involved in thepowwows. I’ll probably be able to help at the powwows beable to just be right in there, you know, beading doingeverything for my kids. It depends on how many kids I amgoing to have by the time I am thirty. And I don’t know, itjust seems I am just starting to learn a lot from my unclebecause he’s right into the powwow stuff. So really tryingto learn from him, train (Lisa).It is important to note that although all of the youth wantedtheir culture to be some part of their lives in the future, eachone of the participants had individual responses to the extent towhich they wanted it in their future.For some of the young women, this aspect did not appear tobe as important. This young woman responded to the question aboutwhether she saw participating in cultural activities as an aspectof her future with; “Probably. Only the singing maybe” (Amanda).When asked to what extent she saw it in her future she said;“Probably about the same [as it is now]” (Amanda). One of theyoung women, who grew up with what she considered to be littleinvolvement in traditional First Nations cultural practices, saidshe was uncertain about the role in which it would play in herfuture:I don’t really think it’s going to more a part of my lifebut I think I’ll be— I’ll have known more about it, youknow, as I grow up I’ll probably learn more about it(Shawna).She then explained;That’s the thing, like I want tobe a part, like you know, Iwant to go up to like see my cousins, eh. Like I don’twantto be drifted away, right cause they are my family, right.So that’s what I am saying I want to be a part of itbut notso I am all into it, you know, like I don’t want to liveonthe reserves like I can- maybe I want to go up there andvisit them right and see-likestay up there for a week andsee what’s going on, like learn more and more about itevery day. But then at the same time I want to live back78down in Vancouver cause its where I grew up, right. Sothat’s just- I want to stay in touch with it but I am notgoing to--- (Shawna).Another described it in the following way;I know I’ll be still involved in the powwows, powwow trails.Probably be going further than just Kamploops or something.But I don’t think there’ll be much still with my mom and mydad’s culture. Well, maybe my mom’s but more it will be moreor the Cree culture. There will be more of that I know that(Lisa).Although there were differing degrees of importance placed onthis aspect of their futures, the desire to return to theirfamilies birth places was consistently strong among all of theyoung women.Several specifically stated wanting to visit the reserves orareas where people in their family were from. This young womanexplained why she wanted to return to the reserve her father wasborn on;I want to find out. Like I just want to know what it [areserve] looks like so if people ask me I can tell them andthat, so like I don’t know, I don’t know (Shawna).She further explained what she hoped to achieve by visiting thereserve;Like right now I am interested in going to go andsee myAunts and my Uncles cause my dad died, right. So I wanttogo see them and I want to see my cousins and see what theylook like, you know, and just in difference to see like howI’ve grown up toward them, you know. If there’sa really baddifference, you know, or if we’re just the same, so then Iknow I missed out on all that or like it’sjust different.Cause like a lot of people they like ask me, like they likeask about reserves and stuff like that, but I’ve never beenon one and I don’t even know what it looks like,so(Shawna).Another also expressed wanting to travel to both herparentsreserves sometime in her future;Um---- I would travel maybe. Well---I’ve never been onareserve ever before in my life.So probably [father’s79reserve], [Mother’s reserve] (Amanda).Clearly, they understood the importance of their own heritagesand roots. Although some recognized that much of their culturehad been lost, or they had limited access to learning more aboutit, they acknowledged it was both important and worthwhilepreserving.These young women were perhaps also expressing theirstruggles with their identities as First Nations youth. In thebook, Voices: Being Native in Canada (Jaine & Taylor, 1992), acompilation of stories written by First Nations, this themeconsistently emerged. For example, in Patricia A. Monture Okanee(1991) story Self Portrait: Flint Woman, she described how shefelt as teenager who had not grown up on a reserve:Particularly during my late teenage-age years, I felt morethan lonely, I felt alone and different. I felt caught inthe middle. I was half white and the whites clearly thoughtI was “Indian” and did not want me around. But the “Indians”also felt I did not belong with them. Having been raisedoff-reserve, I really could not be an “Indian”. For manyyears I believed the middle was nothing but lonely (p. 128).Admittedly, Canadian society has, for the most part, rejected anddiminished First Nations peoples ways of being and knowing andattempted to extinguish their cultures and traditions throughforced assimilation. Added to this, is the dominant culture’soverall rejection of those who have assimilated, leaving manyFirst Nations peoples feeling as if they do not belong any where.Providing Better Lives for the Next GenerationAll of the youth interviewed wanted to have children in thefuture. Although the number of children desired varied somewhat,it was important to all the these young women that they havechildren in the future. As this youth explained;,80I want more kids. The doctor says I can’treally have- Idon’t know, I was having a lot ofproblems there and thedoctor’s saying at first I am not sure if you can have kidsanymore. And there’s like, don’t say this I want morekids.I want lots of kids. Have as many kids as Ican. {Laughs} Atleast five, six the most {laughs} (Lisa).She later described one of her greatest hopes for the future as;Just kids. Some more kids. Cause I still wonder if Iam ableto have kids cause the doctor really scared me about that.That’s one thing I think about. Am I allowed, can I getpregnant? I want more kids. I am hoping for more kids. Oneof the things I really want is to have more kids cause Idon’t want my daughter to be the only one there (Lisa).The others also indicated that they anticipated being parents inthe future: “Yeah. Later, later though. Not now. Probably twoonly” (Amanda); “Just one or two” (Kate); and,I want to have maybe like two, like one or two, and then therest are going to be foster children. Like I really, really,that’s one of the things I really want to be a fosterparent (Shawna).The most significant theme which arose with regards to havingchildren in the future, however, was a strong desire to givetheir children better lives then their own.Most of the young women expressed wanting to provide theirchildren with lives that were better than their own. To providetheir children with lives that were free from the destructiveforces which had been in their lives:and if I have kids I want, like I want a baby butnot now, but I know later on in my life I’ll want to havekids and I want to have a good life for them. I don’t wantthem to grow up around, you know, watching people drink anddo drugs, stuff like that (Kate).She further explained that she would bring up her own children,“A lot better than my mom. I’d discipline them and, you know,teach them and what not, be more involved with them” (Kate). Thisyoung women explained; “My dads on that road yet. He drinks lots,81does drugs. And its something I don’t want for me andmydaughter” (Lisa). She explained what she woulddo differentlythan her parents had as, “Just, ah, physicalabuse. Like Iremember getting hit when I was a child” (Lisa).This young women also wanted a better lifefor her children;like my kids, I want to see them growup good, likeyou know, I don’t want to see them havingto go live on thestreets, you know, having to do prostitutionor, you know,dealing drugs or anything like that. Like Idon’t want tosee them do that like cause that’s bad, like why shouldtheylike have to do that, you know, likethere’s no point, likeI mean I see the only reason thatpeople are doing this isfor more money, right. But, you know,people can go get ajob they can have money that way but theirjust lazy theydon’t want to do it, right? I mean,I don’t want to see mykids like, you know, like doing really bad andlike, youknow, doing these things that Idon’t want them to see, youknow, that’s just not how I wantit (Shawna).There was a real sense that somehowthat they could make itbetter and easier for their own childrenthan it had been forthem. A desire to hopefully protecttheir children from enduringsome of the things had duringtheir childhoods.This was also not limited to their own children,and manyexpressed wanting to work with childrenin their future and tosomehow improve their lives:Because like there’s a lot of childrenon the streets thathave like nowhere to go, right.And it’s sad because like,you know, they have nowhere togo and then they end get upgetting into bad things, you knowbecause they just havenothing, like somethinghappened with their parents or youknow their parents kicked themout or something or theirparents are, you know, doing thesethings that the kidscan’t handle and, you know, Ijust want them to be happy. Ithink that’s what’s important (Shawna).She went on to explain further why shefelt it would be importantin future to help other children;It’s just cause in my— likewhen I was a child like alot ofpeople helped me, you know,cause like I was in foster homesand, you know, in hospitalsand its just like I want to help82people, I want to help children too, like I don’t want themgrowing up having this rough life or whatever. And like Iwant to be foster parent, and I want to be a nurse and allthis, like I want to I’ve kids to (Shawna).One of the other young women also explained why she believed shewould be able to help kids like herself in the future;Cause it’d be easier to understand the kids like because Igrow up with all this kind of stuff that most kids aregrowing up with and what not but who knows the world couldchange by then. . . . (Kate).They have an deep understanding that children should not have toexperience hardships, perhaps as they had in their ownchildhoods.Perceived NeedsThe youth perceived needing various things in ordering toobtain their desired futures. Most significant of these were theneed of support from others and the need to change or improvethemselves.Support From OthersMostly, these youth expressed their predominate need assupport from individuals in their lives. One young womandescribed this as support she felt she needed from counsellorsand her family;The counsellor that I had she’sa really good counsellor.Like she’s a sexual abuse counsellor, she’s a drug andalcohol counsellor and--- I don’t know--- she’sa counsellorfor all different kind of things. And it really helped meand I used to go see her and I don’t know why I quit going.I don’t know why I stopped going to see her at her office.Urn, I don’t know--— just a lot of good counsellingwouldhelp and myself really trying to help myself. And it’slikelately I haven’t been doing that just turning towardsalcohol and drugs. Urn, hanging out with the family moreoften (Sarah).Another saw the most important supportas coming from family andfriends:83Um---I don’t know---just friends and family around on thereserve, I guess. Yeah. Support from friends and family(Sarah).This one described the following individuals as the importantsources of support in her life;Well, like Mary’s [One-to-one Worker] helping me a littleright now. My boyfriend’s helping me. Yeah. Support(Amanda).Only one of the young woman referred to the need for money infacilitating the achievement of her future goals,Um, Probably need money so--- Hopefully I’ll get my gradenine done here now, by the end of the year if I don’t go upto Burns Lake I’ll be getting a job. I have a trust fund toso (Kate).These youth appear mostly to need and desire to have people intheir lives who accept, encourage and support them.Need to Chancre/Improve SelfOverwhelming, however, most youth perceived themselves asbeing the most instrumental factor in achieving their futuregoals. Almost all the youth made reference to the need to changetheir current lives. This one emphasized changing her life now soshe would be able to pursue her educational goals;Like I know in my mind I have to go to school it’s just apart of me that has to get there, that I have to get up andgo because I know I have to. Like I can’t like- what am Igoing to do, stay home and sleep? Meanwhile I could beatschool learning and passing my tests and getting betteratmy grades and then before I know it, you know, hopefullygraduate (Shawna).She further explained;It’s just maybe like my life, my social life, maybe I haveto like cool down on that cause I am like out partyinglikeevery night even on school nights I am out and that’s goingto be- that’s like a bad habit for me going out every nightso, you know, maybe I should just like sit home or like, youknow, like have a couple people over like watching T.V. ormovies or something, you know, or maybejust say “okay, wellI’ll go to school like every week and then on the weekends I84can go out with my friends, you know, lower it like thatinstead of going out every night partying until like fivesix in the morning and having like one or two hours of sleepand not being able to get up and go to school (Shawna).This young woman also referred to the need to try and helpherself now in order to improve her chances of obtaining herfuture goals;.and myself really trying to help myself. And it’slike lately I haven’t been doing that just turning towardsalcohol and drugs (Sarah).Being more motivated, in particular, was one of the waysthat these young women felt they needed to change:Just the motivation and urn motivation. Like I can’t get upat 7 o’clock and be mobile about anything. Just mope aroundthe house. I do&t know what it is. Before I used to thinkit was just because of my health. My health was really offbut now I just, I don’t know, I mean people just get up,“time to go,” or something its like, “yeah, whatever.” Idon’t know, I think there’s I lot of times I wish I could bein high school, wish I could have a lot of friends, like alot of the high school kids do. Be there. But I know I can’tchange the past. I don’t know what could motivate me, Idon’t know (Lisa).Just hoping I can be more motivated and more up going and beable to do anything I want with no problems. I don’t knowjust hoping I have a job and I am somewhere (Lisa).I know that for me to get there I have to be motivated. Ihave- if that’s what I want, I have to go and get it. Ican’t just sit there and wait for it to come to me, you know(Shawna).Just not getting there (laughs) that’s all I am scared ofbut I know that if in my mind I really want to do it that Ican. Its just that I have to be mot-i-vated (laughs)(Shawna).This suggests, as had some of their other perceptions,that theybelieved that their success in the future depended most on theirown personal strengths.Although not unexpected for individuals of thisage, thisperspective unfortunately does not acknowledge the many85historical and current circumstances which may severelydisadvantage them from achieving their future goals. As a resultthese young women will likely attribute any failures in theirfuture lives to personal weakness which will continue to diminishtheir self esteem and self worth.SummaryIn the end, most of the youth just simply wanted to havemeaningful lives and be happy in the future. It seems appropriateto conclude this section with the voices of the women themselves.These final quotations reflect the general desire of all theparticipants to be happy and have fulfilling lives.Hoping that I am somewhere, not just anywhere, somewhere.And I can be happy about, rather than just having a kid andbeing happy about that (Lisa).And I want to live, in a house and have like- I want thislife, but not like perfect but good enough so I can live andbe happy, so like when I am old like, you know, I like haveall these children and I like want them to like say thank-you, you know, for like helping me and like watching themgrow up to be good and do something with their lives, youknow, not being on the streets addicted to something(Shawna).She later further explained,I want a good life. I want to be happy, I want to make otherpeople happy. I want to grow old and have good memories, youknow, of all the times I’ve lived and the people that, youknow, [that I met) (Shawna).In the end, these young women simply hoped that they would behappy in the future.86Chapter 5: ConclusionThis research set out to provide understanding and insightinto the future outlooks of a few young First Nations womenliving in an urban environment. Through this endeavor, it washoped that some of the factors contributing to the nature oftheir outlooks would be revealed. It was also hoped that thisexploratory research would raise some questions and reveal theimportance of paying attention to this ignored and marginalizedpopulation.It is believed that the future outlooks expressed by theseyoung women begin to help fill the existing void of availableinformation about this population. Although it was not theintention of this project to utilize these findings to generalizeabout this population’s experiences or perceptions, the themeswhich emerged can be useful for improving our understanding aboutthis population.The fact that even among this small group of women, therewere evidence of suicidal thoughts, sexual and physical abuse,lack of success in school and drug and alcohol abuse shouldsuggest that an unacceptable situation exists that social workneeds to address. Based on •these interviews, and the existingliterature, some general recommendations with respect to bettermeeting the needs of this population will be made. The findingsof a recent study, entitled The Voices of First Nations Youth:First Nations Youth Needs in the Strathcona and Downtown EastsideArea of Vancouver (Grunberg, 1992), will be used to support someof these recommendations.This chapter will outline some of the ways social work could87respond to better meet the needs of these young women. The needfor collective responses to changing the conditions affectingthese young women will be discussed. An outline of someconsiderations with respect to social work counselling withfemale First Nations youth will be provided. This is followed bya discussion of some of the specific issues faced by FirstNations women, as were revealed in the interviews and theliterature review. A brief discussion about some of thedirections social work should be taking with respect todeveloping programs for this population will then be presented.This chapter concludes with suggestions of areas in need offurther research.A Need For ChangeSocial work as a profession needs to acknowledge theproblems and biases within its structures and organizations andwork towards altering these. The historical role of the socialwork profession in the colonization process needs to berecognized. As Chris Walmsley (1993) explains; “Social workerslegacy with respect to First Nations peoples has been viewed aspart of the problem more frequently than as part of the solution”(p.148). Social work needs to reflect on its current approach topractice with First Nations peoples. Responses to the issuesfacing First Nations peoples need to be different than thosewhich occurred in the past.A Collective ResponseAs was apparent from the literature review and theinterviews, the issues facing this population are extensive andcomplex. In addressing these, social work as a profession needs88to reconsider its present approach to social work in general. AsBen Carniol (1990) explains;The practice of conventional social work today, based as itis on workers carrying certain caseloads of individuals andfamilies, means that the professions role seems inevitablyconfined to adjusting clients to prevailing socialconditions- minimally improving their lot perhaps, butseldom changing it(p.114).Through collective efforts, social work needs to focus onaddressing the structural inequalities, which create and maintainthe conditions that so profoundly effect this population.In order to really address the issues facing young FirstNations youth, the First Nations community needs to receive“their full and fair share of personal power, material resourcesand social opportunities” (Carniol,p.115). To achieve this,social work as a profession needs to emphasize collective effortsand community development approaches that work toward alteringthe current deprived situations of First Nations peoples. Carniol(1990) explains;such social work practice moves away from the centralposition of implicit power over clients towards encouragingclients to take matters into their own hands by formingpolitical and support groups (p. 115).The intention of these groups is to acknowledge and address thepolitical and social roots of their circumstances (Carniol,1990).Efforts need to made that facilitate and empower the FirstNations community to define the needs of their own youth and tocreate their own solutions. The emphasis should be on communitydevelopment or community organization interventions that willeffect long lasting changes for First Nations youth in urbanareas. Lee (1986) defines community organization in the following89way:Community organization is that social interventionwhichthrough the facilitation of collective action on the part ofthe clientele, seeks to maximize the abilityofdisadvantaged people to affect their environment so thatthey are able to meet their psychological,social andmaterial needs. This intervention involves the creation ofrepresentative organizations which can develop the power andresources to change inadequate institutionsand laws orbuild new ones that will be more responsive to their needsand those of all human beings(p.3).Social work practice needs to work towards strengtheningcommunities and connecting people with similar problems. The goalultimately being to empower First Nations people to create longlasting and real changes in their communities.Greater RepresentationAs was shown in the statistics presented earlier in theliterature review, and reflected in many of the interviews, FirstNations youth come into to contact with social services andcorrections agencies at an alarming rate. However, First Nationspeoples are severely under-represented in these agencies asservice providers (Allgaier, James & Manuel, 1993). Therepresentation of First Nations peoples in these agencies needsto be increased, especially at the decision making levels.Community organizations need to incorporate First Nationspeoples in the front line decisions which effect their youth. Aswell, they must ensure that their interventions are consistentwith First Nations peoples’ goal of achieving self government.Social ActionAddressing the issues faced by this young population extendsfar beyond merely providing culturally- sensitive interventionsat the immediate level. It requires effecting policies whichgoaddress the wider contextual structures which disadvantage thispopulation in countless ways. Pence (1988) explains the purposeof policy:Policy are typically seen as the instruments used bysocieties to improve social conditions and to protectagainst and offset the impact of economic industrial andother forces (p. 197).He acknowledges that, “the challenge is therefore to identifysocial polices that extend opportunity for individuals andenhance their well-being”(p.197). As social workers, we need tofocus our interventions at all the levels which affect theseyoung people’s lives. These include dealing with, and combating,issues such as racism, sexism, discrimination, oppression,andcolonization. Most importantly, however is the realization thatpolicies which influence First Nations peoples’ lives needto bedeveloped by, not for, aboriginal people.Social workers need to continually advocate forthe right ofself determination and sovereignty for First Nationspeoples.Although a detailed discussion is not within thescope of thispaper, the fact remains today that the sovereignty of FirstNations in this country was never fully extinguished(Cassidy,1991). As Cassidy (1991) explains:Non-Aboriginal Canadians must come to grips with ourhistoryof colonialism. Once we doso, we can join in truepartnership with First Nationsto finally create one Canadabased upon respect for the self determination of allpeoples(p.13).The answer to addressing the needs of this younggeneration, andthe generations to come, largely liesin returning the power andcontrol, which was never relinquished,to First Nations people todetermine and guide their own lives.91Cassidy (1991) quotes a First Nations leader in hisdiscussion of what needs to occur for this to become a reality,It is all so simple, George Erasmus and other First Nationsleaders maintain. It is only a matter of Canada acceptingits own Constitution, of accepting Section 35 whichrecognizes and affirms existing aboriginal and treatyrights. It is only a matter of political will on the partof provincial and, most importantly, the federalgovernments. It is all so simple, and yet progress is soslow, it often seems as if it will never come at all (p. 2).As new generations struggle to overcome the devastatingconsequences of colonization, such a response is long overdue.Social workers need to incorporate into their practicessocial action which advocates for the rights of First Nationspeoples. This includes any social action which addresses FirstNations peoples’ rights to have control and power over theirlives and communities, to have land claims addressed and resolvedand to free them from systemic racism, discrimination andoppression. Any pursuits which address these needs, and worktowards influencing policy, have a great potential for alteringthe conditions faced by young First Nations females.Social Work Counselling with Female First Nations YouthAlthough counselling is by no means the ideal method ofresolving the issues facing this young generation, social workersstill most commonly deal with clients on a one-to-one basis. Asit is believed that this trend will continue for some time, thissection is included to address this existing situation. This isnot to imply, however, that social workers should focus solelyonimproving their practice at this micro—level. The emphasismustcontinue to remain on permanently changing the conditions whicheffect this young population. However, it is believed that social92workers, at this level, could become more culturally appropriatein their practices and better meet the needs of young FirstNations women.It is also imperative that non- Aboriginal social workers,whenever possible, provide services to First Nations clients onlywhen invited to do so by First Nations individuals, groups orcommunities. If First Nations communities or individuals areavailable to provide similar services this should occur. Atminimum, social workers should continually consult with the FirstNations community with respect to the effectiveness andappropriateness of their practices.Many of the present practice models, ideas, and toolsavailable to social workers are largely euro-centricin natureand simply do not fit very well with respect to practicewiththis population. As a result, social workers need tocontinuallyevaluate their effectiveness and appropriateness incross-cultural situations and commit themselves to providing moreculturally-sensitive services. Social workers needto seek outopportunities to learn more about First Nationsmodels of healingand to incorporate them, when appropriate, into theirpracticeswith First Nations clients.It is imperative for social workers to acknowledgethatbeing a competent cross-cultural worker is as mucha process, asit a learning of skills and tools. Essential to thisprocess isan awareness of one’s own values and background. Socialworkersmust be committed to on-going selfevaluation and reflectionthroughout their careers. Social workers mustexplore andchallenge the values that direct their practices.93It is important that social workers incorporate anunderstanding of First Nations culture and values into theirpractices. They need to, however, simultaneously maintain respectand openness to their clients individuality and uniqueness. Itmust be recognized that each client is an individual and may beat a variety of different levels in terms of their owndevelopment and awareness. This was evident even among the fewyoung women who participated in this study. Each of the youngwomen were at different stages of developing their First Nationsidentity. Although through these interviews it was apparent thatinvolvement in their cultures were important, each hadexperienced different degrees of connection to this.Any social work practice with First Nations peoples needs toincorporate an understanding and knowledge of the collectiveexperience of colonization on First Nations peoples. Although itis acknowledged that First Nations peoples represent a variety ofdistinct cultures, values and experiences, it is their collectiveexperience which should form the bases for working with FirstNations peoples. This includes understanding that the dominantculture has largely benefited from the historical and on-goingdestruction of Native peoples’ lands, cultures, traditions,languages and ways of lives. Non- First Nations social workersneed to recognize and respond to the colonial values which theyhave inherited.Social workers need to utilize models of practice whicharecapable of contributing to the decolonization of First Nationspeoples. Not only do social workers need to deliver theirservices ethnically-sensitively, they need to continually check94their actions to ensure that they are not merely perpetuating thecontinued oppression of First Nations peoples and performing yetanother task in the process of colonizing First Nations peoples.Although it was not unexpected that these young women wererelatively unaware of the political, social, and economic factorswhich could impede the achievement of their future goals,counselling which addresses this could potentially be empowering.In this respect, a feminist counselling approach can offer aproductive method of addressing the issues faced by thispopulation. A feminist approach looks more at the clients ideas,feelings and behaviour rather than fixing blame on the client forher situation (Carniol, 1990). Carniol (1990) explains;such a focus recognizes that the various forms ofdiscrimination against oppressed populations becomeinternalized so that women, children, and men who use socialservices tend to believe they are incompetent or failures(p. 119).This was apparent in many of the interviews with the young womenin this study. Many of them repeatedly attributed theircircumstances to personal failures or lack of personal strength.I suggest the utilization of two specific skills, adaptedfrom a feminist counselling approach, with work with young FirstNations females. These include the skills of “positiveevaluation” and “social analysis” (Russell, 1984). Althoughdeveloped primarily for counselling women, its my personalbeliefthat these two skills can be useful with all First Nationsclients. The focus, in the case of female First Nationsclients,would be on both the oppression of First Nations peoplesand thethe oppression of women. Applied to work with young First Nationsfemales, these skills aim to reveal the issues associated with95sexism and racism.The first skill of positive evaluation involves, “conveyingto clients that they have attributes and abilities that areunjustly devalued by themselves and by the society in which theylive.” (Russell, 1984,p.55). When applied to female FirstNations clients, this would involve assisting the client torecognize that her negative self-image is largely a product ofthe prevalent negative evaluations of First Nations peoples andwomen by society. Negative stereotypes about First Nationspeoples are abundant. The young First Nations client needs tobegin to understand how these persistent and negative stereotypeshave likely been internalized and how they may be effecting herlife.The second skill, and perhaps the most important, is that ofsocial analysis. This involves,assessing social and cultural restraints impinginginternally and externally on clients. The skillincludes the use of this assessment in assistingclients to restructure cognitively their world throughrecognition of social influences (Russell, p.75).This entails incorporating a structural analysis into thecounselling process. In other words, putting peoples’ experiencesinto the context of their treatment and positions within society.In this case, helping young First Nations females understandthe impact of racism and discrimination in their lives. Also,redefining their distress as a normal reaction to the tremendousoppression and destruction which have been inflicted on FirstNations peoples through the process of colonization. The goalbeing to clearly expose the social barriers whichhave infringedon their development and contributed to their present96circumstances.This approach to counselling is quite different than thetraditional approach of narrowly focusing on the client. Itstrives to link the personal to the political and offeralternative strategies to dealing with people’s situations. Afeminist counselling approach to work with female First Nationsyouth offers a more productive approach to dealing with theirissues.Issues Confronting Female First Nations YouthThe interviews and literature review highlighted that thereare multiple issues confronting this population that socialworkers need to be aware of and knowledgeable about. Specificfactors relevant to youth, females and First Nations must becombined in work with female First Nations youth. Social workersmust recognize these young women’s disadvantaged status insociety based on their age, sex and race. The multitude ofchallenges they may be faced with as a result of these needtoacknowledged. Although there are numerous others, two specificissues of relevance to female First Nations adolescents willbediscussed here.Importance of Involving the FamilyAs is often the case when working with youth in general, thefamily needs to be supported and involved when any work isoccurring with a teenager. The great emphasis that theseyoungwomen placed on the importance of their family relationshipssuggests this may be particularly important for First Nationsyouth. The Voice of First Nations Youth study (Grunberg, 1992)noted that: “The importance of respecting family needs, making97family counselling available and including parents in the processof working with youth at risk, should be emphasized”(p.19). Itis clear that for healing to occur among First Nations youth,healing must also occur in their families and communities.SexualityAs well, due to their gender, social workers needto beaware of some of the additional issues that young people faceaswomen. Knowledge is necessary in the areas of teenage pregnancyand dealing with the issues faced by women who have beenphysically or sexually abused by men. As was described earlier,one of the young women highlighted the serious results of sexualabuse when she spoke about her on-going nightmares and heruse ofdrugs to escape the pain.Her experience, unfortunately is not an isolated caseamongFirst Nations youth. As Rick Ouston (1993) explains in hisarticle;It is difficult to contest that Canada’s native Indianchildren were magnets for pedophiles. Church workersandteachers flocked to residential schoolsto feast on easyprey, as sickening numbers of recent criminal convictionsattest. How many like-minded individuals used the adoptionprocess to legally acquire their own victims is not known(p.20).As a result of adoptions and residential schools,cycles ofsexual abuse have become seriousconcerns for many First Nationscommunities. It is a serious issue currently affecting fartomany young First Nations womentoday. Social workers need to beaware that the genesis ofthese cycles were a direct result ofthe dominant culture’s intrusion into FirstNations’ children’slives.The majority of the teenagers inthis study had also98revealed having been pregnant. Although obviously not arepresentative sample, other research has shown that female FirstNations Youth are at a high risk of becoming pregnant (LaPrairie, 1984). When working with female First Nations youth,social workers must assure that they receive adequate access tobirth control methods and information. However, more importantlythe reasons for taking such risks needs to be dealt with.ProgramsThe evidence suggests, both from the statistics and theinterviews conducted for this research, that female First Nationsyouth are overwhelming involved in criminal activities, substanceabuse, Street life and are often not in school and not working.As well, it appears that they are routinely exposed to violence,family breakdown and death. Despite this, very few services orprograms currently exist in Vancouver which are specificallydesigned to meet the needs of young female First Nations youth.Although it is clear that developing programs and services merelyoffer band-aid solutions to much larger structural problems, theycan potentially elevate some of the suffering encountered by thispopulation.GeneralThe multitude of issues confronting these young womensuggests that programs which are holistic in focus and addressthe underlying issues (such as poor self—esteem) confrontingthese young women would be useful. Throughout the interviews itwas apparent that these young women experienced many thingswhichwould diminish their self-esteem and worth (for example,violence, abuse, lack of success in school). Creative, and99culturally-appropriate projects need to be undertaken which givethese young women opportunities to be successful and to buildtheir self images.Programs such as street theater’, which allows young peoplewith no acting experience to become involved in all aspects ofthe creation of a theater production, provide unique avenues forbuilding self-esteem in young people. Such innovative programsallow indirect opportunities to improve negative self-perceptions among youth.SpecificThe themes which emerged in the interviews suggest severalspecific areas that programs and services may be required. Forexample, programs designed specifically for female First Nationsyouth in the areas of drug and alcohol, recreation and jobtraining would be useful. As well as these needs being reflectedin the interviews, The Voice of First Nations Youth study(Grunberg, 1992) also emphasized the need for improvement inthese areas.Drug and alcoholThe interviews suggested that drug and alcohol abuse was aserious concern among these young women. Vancouver has relativelyfew services which address the drug and alcohol concerns of FirstNations youth. Grunberg (1992) reported that over ninety percentof the respondents felt there were not enough adequate programsin place to help First Nations youth with drug and alcoholproblems.More facilities designed specifically for youth, andpreferably for females, are needed. Drug and alcohol programs for100these youth should reflect existing First Nations models ofhealing. Existing services such as Hey-Way’--Noqu Healing Circle,an out-patient treatment and counselling service whichincorporates traditional cultural components, provide a goodmodel for developing such programs (Grunberg, 1992).Recreational FacilitiesThe youth in this study clearly lacked involvement inleisure or recreational activities. Grunberg (1992) also found inher study that, overwhelmingly First Nations youth reported thatthere was not enough to do, they had too much time on their handsand had few places to go. More access to supervised facilitiesfor First Nations youth is required. Also, First Nation youthneed to be consulted and opportunities provided for such thingsas teen events, sporting events and cultural activities(Grunberg, 1992).A specific recommendation made by the Voices of FirstNations Youth study was that First Nations youth workers, orculturally- sensitive youth workers, be available in communityand recreational centers. These workers would be responsible forliaising with First Nations youth in the community andencouraging their involvement in available activities. It ismypersonal belief that this would be an importantaspect insuccessfully involving First Nations youth in recreational orleisure activities.Job TrainingThe lack of involvement in employment and the limitedideasabout the opportunities available to women revealed in thisstudy, suggests there is likely a great need for job training101programs that are specifically designed for female First Nationsyouth. Programs which provide career planning and educate youngFirst Nations women about the large variety of employmentopportunities available to women would likely be useful. Theseprograms would also need to take into account not only thespecific needs of females, but also First Nations youth who livein urban environments.The Voice of First Nations Youth study (Grunberg, 1992) alsoconcluded that there was a need for more summer job programs andjob preparation programs for First Nations youth. As well it wassuggested in this study that access be improved to the relevantinformation regarding upgrading opportunities that are availablethrough employment and community centers (Grunberg, 1992). Theinterviews conducted here also suggested that this would beuseful. Three of the youth, specifically mentioned that theyintended pursuing upgrading.The most important aspect for social workers to consider,however, is that these programs should not be designed for FirstNations peoples, but with, or even better by, First Nationspeoples. It is essential that interested First Nationsindividuals (including youth), groups and communities be involvedin the creation of any new services in these areas. Thecollective identity of First Nations peoples needs to recognizedand they must ultimately be allowed to design and developprograms which meet their needs and be provided with theresources to deliver these (Allgaier, James, Manuel, 1993). Inthe end, however, costly services and programs will do little tosolve the problems faced by this young generation if the basic102inequalities that are at their root continue to be ignored.The Need For Continued ResearchAs anticipated, this research revealed the necessity andurgency for social work to continue to improve its ofunderstanding of this marginalized population group. Relativelylittle is known about this population. Social work as aprofession has made few attempts to understand the issues facingyoung First Nations individuals in cities, provide services whichcan adequately meet their needs or influence policies whicheffect their lives. This research was only able to, ona verysmall scale, begin the process of filling an enormous void whichpresently exists in the field of social work.With all research projects comes a call for more andcontinued research. Without belaboring this, this research didreveal many areas in need of further research. In particular, itwould be valuable to further explore such areas as these youngwome&s relationships with men and the issue of grief and loss.My initial area of interest with respect to conducting thisresearch was, in fact, to look at their relationships with men.Many of the young First Nations females I have workedwithpreviously have disclosed serious difficulties in theirrelationships. It suspected, based on this and what the youngwomen said in this research, that many young First Nationswomenare not experiencing healthy, stable relationships. Researchinthis area could confirm whether this really is a serious concernfor First Nations females and gather information relevanttoproviding services in this area.Also, it would be useful to know the extent female First103Nations youth are being faced with losing friends or familymembers. Answers to questions such as the following could be ofgreat use: What are the effects of these repeated losses in theirlives? How do they deal with grief and loss issues? Are there anyservices which address these issues?Quantitative work, as well as qualitative work, is needed asstill relatively few statistics are available which accuratelyreflect the scope of the problems facing this population.Accurate statistics on pregnancy rates, alcohol use, involvementin the justice system and the other areas highlighted in thisresearch would be useful. Although research which improves ourunderstanding of this population would be useful, it isultimately more imperative to begin addressing the issues wealready know are faced by this population.104BibliographyAllgaier, L., James, M and Manuel, S. (1993). Policy onIndigenous People. The Social Worker, 61(4), 162-163.Atleo, R. (1991). A Study of Education in Context. In D. Jensenand C. Brooks (Eds.), In Celebration of our Survival: TheFirst Nations of British Columbia (pp.104- 223). Vancovuer:UBC Press.Baker, M. (1985). What Will Tomorrow Bring?... A Study of theAspirations of Adolescent Women. 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Toronto: Little Brown and Company(Canada) Limited.108.A.ppendix 1The University of British Columbia________Office of Research Services_____Behavioural Sciences Screening Committee forResearch involving Human SubjectsCertificate ofApprovalPRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR DEPARTMENT NUMRYellow-Bird, M. Social Work. B93-0788INSTITUTION(S) WHERE RESEARCH WILL BE CARRIED OUTUBC CampusCO-INVESTIGATORS:Dolman, C., Social WorkAOE.TITLE ..:... . .Female native ado1escents perceptionsoftheirlhturesAPPROVAL DATE TERM (YEARS) AMENDED:JAN26199’t3CERTIFICATION:The protocol describing the above-namedproject has been reviewed bytheCommittee and the experimentalprocedures were found to be acceptableon ethicalgrounds for research involving humansubjects.4D’k. D.SpratleyVV ‘ Director, Research ServicesThis Certificate ofApproval is valid for theabove term provided there is nochange inthe experimental proceduresDr. I. Franks,Associate Chairs109Appendix 2Interview Guide1) Could you describe whatan average day looks likein your lifepresently?(probes)-work-school-relationships-leisure time-participation in cultural activities2) Could you describe whatyour an average day might look like whenyou are thirty years old?(probes)-work-school (attending orwill have attended)-relationships (married/children)-leisure time-participation in culturalactivities3) What do you thinkwill you need to get there?4) What do you fearmost about your future?5) What do you hopefor most in the future?110kptiuJ.2 ..)THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISHCOLUMBIASchool of Social Workj2080 West MallVancouver, B.C. Canada V6T 1Z2Tel: (604) 822-2255 Fax:(604) 822-8656PARENT/GUzUIUIAN INTEIIVIEWCONSENT FORMFor the Research Pro-jectTitled: Female Native Adolescents’Perceptionsof their Futures.Researcher: CorinneDolman, M.S.W. (Candidate)Universityof British Columbia,School of Social Work.Phone: 734—6741Thesis Advisor: MichaelYellow BirdPhone: 822-3520I,_______________________,hereby consent! do notconsent to mydaughter,_____________________,participating in anin-personinterview (of approximatelyone hour) to be conducted byCorinneDolman. I understandthat my daughter’s participationis completelyvoluntary and she maychose to withdrawfrom the study at anytime. Further, herparticipation, or withdrawal,will notjeopardize any servicesshe may be receivingfrom any agency (nowor in the future)in any way.I understand thatthe interview will beaudiotaped and thattheaudiotape will bedestroyed upon completionof this project.All identifiableinformationwill be held in confidence bytheresearcherand all individual, identifiableinformation will beomitted from thefinal document. Shewill be paid $10uponcompletionof the interview. ShouldI have any questionsregardingthis study,I am aware that Ican contact either ofthe above namedpersons at anytime.My signature is anacknowledgement of myreceipt of a copyof thisform and my consentto allow my daughterto participate inthisstudy.Parent/GuardianSignature:___________________Date:_____________Interviewer’s Signature:_____________________Date:____________111Appendix 4THE UNIVERSITYOF BRITISHCOLUMBIASchool of Sochil Work2080 West MallVancouver, B.C. Canada V6T1Z2Tel: (604) 822-2255Fax: (604) 822-8656‘PAIITICIPANT INTEUVILWCONSENT FOIIMFor the ResearchProlect Titled: FemaleNative Adolescents’Perceptions of their Futures.Researcher: Corinne Dolman, M.S.W.(Candidate)University of British Columbia,School of Social Work.Phone: 734—6741Thesis Advisor: Michael YellowBirdPhone: 822—3520I,________________________,hereby consentto an in—personinterview (of approximatelyone hour) to beconducted by CorinneDolman. I understand thatmy participation iscompletely voluntaryand I may chose to withdrawfrom the study atany time. Further, myparticipation, or withdrawal,will not jeopardizeany services Imay be receiving fromany agency (now or in thefuture) in any way.I understand that theinterview willbe audiotaped and thatthe audiotapewill be destroyed upon completionof this project.All identifiable informationwill be held inconfidence by theresearcher and all individual,identifiable informationwill beomitted from the final document.I will be paid$10 upon completionof the interview. Should I haveany questionsregarding this study,I am aware that I cancontact either of theabove named personsatanytime.My signature is an acknowledgementof my receipt ofa copy ofthis form and my consentto participate in thisstudy.Participant’s Signature:________________Date:Interviewer’s Signature:___________________Date:112Appendix 51 HE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIASchool of Social Work2080 West MallVancouver, B.C. Canada V6T 1Z2Tel: (604) 822-2255 Fax: (604) 822-8656LIFTEU I1LQUISTING I’AIITICIPATIONDear____________________My name isCorinne Dolman andI am a graduate studentat theUniversity ofBritish Columbia(School of SocialWork) and anemployee ofthe VancouverIntensive SupervisionProgram (formerlyknown as J.I.S.P). Iwould like toinvite you to participatein aresearch studyexploring the futureoutlooks ofFemale Nativeadolescentsfrom age fifteenup to, and including,age nineteen.Iam interestedin learninghow you view your futurein the areasofwork, education,family/marriageand leisure time.The purpose ofthis study is tobetter understandyour future outlookand toimprove ourknowledge in thisarea.Although yourname was obtainedfrom your past participationin the VancouverIntensive SupervisionProgram, this studyis notrelated to yourinvolvement in thatprogram. Further, choosingtoparticipate,or not to participate,in this study willhave noimpact on anyservices you mayreceive from thisprogram in thefuture. Ihave not beengiven access toany information throughwhich to contactyou. Thisletter has been sentto you by thecoordinator ofthe programand I will onlyhave contact with youifyou chose to callme, at thenumber listedbelow, or if you leavea message withthe programcoordinator thatyou are interestedinparticipating.The researchwill be conductedthrough in—personinterviewswhich will be audio-tapedand will take approximatelyone hour ofyour time to complete.You will be paid $10for your participation(to be receivedupon completion ofthe interview).You must haveyour parent orguardian’s writtenconsent toparticipate if youareunder age nineteen.Your participationis completely voluntaryandyou may choose notto answer anyquestion(s) orwithdraw fromthestudy at any timewithout penalty.All identifyinginformationwill be held inconfidence bytheresearcher (withthe exceptionof new disclosuresof child abusewhich by law mustbe reportedto the Ministryof Social Services.)Any individual,identifiableinformationwill not appearin thefinal document.Should youhave any questionsor are interestedinparticipatingin this study pleasefeel free to Contactme at 734-6741 or theprogram coordinatorof the VancouverIntensiveSupervision Program,Lana Morley, at435-8910.Further informationregarding this studycan also be obtainedfrom my thesisadvisor,Michael Yellow Bird,at 822-3520.i.,113Appendix 6/11cn/l’’i /1 I(’/i() Iii/(’iiSii’(’ S1//Ni’1’ 28, 1993School of Social Work,University of British Columbia,2080 West Mall,Vancouver, BC.To Whom It May Concern,CorinneDolman has requested access to former/currentclients of our agency in connection with her MSW program atU.B.C.I have had an opportunity to read the “research intent” ofthe project and to discuss the research with Corinne. I have alsodiscussed the project and the issue of client acess with Mr. DaveKeillor of the B.C. Corections Branch.Provided that the project proceeds as outlined in the“research intent” we are pleased to provide access to formerclients of our agency. We assume that approval of the School’shuman subject committee as well as faculty approval of the actualresearch questions, will occur prior to client and parentcontact.We are prepared to consider the question of access tocurrent clients as a separate matter at some future point shouldthis be required.Call me at 435-8991, if you require further information.Sincerely,Robert F. KissnerExecutive Directorcc D. Keillor(:ni;i1;, \\ ;l\ ‘I;iiIiiu t(Id,tsS:1i)I/li(h(/1l/iil I ( I’ ( >. Ic )XA( )I’dil S( h/i I,,th--‘KIIIl11\. Ic. (:II1:I/I;I \mIlIII ‘—)Appendix 7THE UNIVERSITYOF BRITISH COLUMBIASchool of Social Work_________2080 West MallVancouver, B.C. Canada V6T 1Z2_______Tel: (604) 822-2255 Fax:(604) 8228656NOTIFICATION IIIQUESTINI’Afl’ICiI’A’FIONMy name is Corinne Dolmanand I am a graduate student at theUniversity of British Columbia,School of Social Work. I would liketo invite you toparticipate in a research study exploring thefuture outlooks of FemaleNative adolescents from age fifteen to,and including, age nineteen.I am interested in learning how youview your future in the areasof work, education, family/marriageand leisure time. The purposeof this study is to better understandyour future outlook andto improve our knowledge in this area.The research will be conductedthrough in-person interviewswhich will be audio-tapedand will take approximately one hourofyour time to complete. You will be paid $10for your participation(to be received uponcompletion of the interview). You musthaveyour parent or guardian’swritten consent to participate. Yourparticipation is completelyvoluntary and you may chose to notanswer any question(s)or withdraw from the study at any timewithout penalty.All identifyinginformation will beheld in confidence by theresearcher with the exceptionof new disclosures of child abusewhich by law must be reportedto the Ministry of Social Services.Any individual, identifiableinformation will not appear in thefinal document.Should you haveany questions or areinterested inparticipating in thisstudy please feel free to contact me at 734-6741. Furtherinformation regarding thisstudy can also be obtainedfrom my thesis advisor MichaelYellowbird at 822-2255.1l5ppenaix bRESPONDENTINFORMATION1. Name:2. Age:3. Ethnic Identity:4. Living arrangements:5. Economic status(Low, Medium,High):6. Martial status:7. Dependents(Yes/No):S. Alcohol/SubstanceUse (Frequently,Occasionally,Never):Note: This informationwill be destroyedupon project completion.116L’;IawtqMw—chh_tw1fh;;4ah+5trtu+c5ishAppendix 9GabiM—117


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