UBC Graduate Research

First Nations Education : Curriculum Action Research for Change Jurgens, Erica


Responding to Article 13 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (United Nations 2008), this research centred on the mobilization of Indigenous knowledge and epistemologies through the creation of Indigenous curriculum resource materials for an intermediate classroom in a First Nations school. This research is crucial because there is a gap between talking about Indigenous Knowledges and the transmission of Indigenous Intellectualism. Indigenous scholarship is now focused on developing Indigenous theoretical models to support identity resurgence, epistemologies, and practices within First Nations communities. This research integrates three Indigenous philosophical stances: Red Pedagogy, Resurgence, Radical Indigenism and four Stó:lō principles: Sxwōxwiyám [Ancient Narratives], Shxwelí [Understanding of Life-force], Shxwélméxwelh [Life-ways], Xwelméxwqel [The Language] to establish the framework for a theoretical model of Indigenous curriculum design (S'iwesá:ylhem [Teachings for the Children]). Using Curriculum Action Research (McKernan, 1998), Stó:lō specific curriculum resource materials were created and implemented. This case-study found that the primary factor in successful curriculum design and positive student engagement with the curriculum resource materials was relationship, especially with Stó:lō historian Naxaxalhts'i who has collected many of the sxwōxwiyám used in the content. In conclusion, this research offers five recommendations for educational researchers: (1) There needs to be further research into unpacking the Stó:lō intelligences embedded in sxwōxwiyám, (2) There is a need for curriculum action research that would work toward a coherent progression of Stó:lō sxwōxwiyám in the curriculum, (3) There is a need to create a Halq’eméylem dictionary for elementary students, (4) There are research opportunities to explore how to best establish technology infrastructures and utilize technology in curriculum resource development, and (5) There is a need for longitudinal research projects on Indigenous curriculum development and Indigenous curriculum resource materials development.

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