UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

"I screamed internally for a long time" : traumatized urban indigenous children in Canadian child protection and education systems Johnson, Shelly Lee


This Indigenist study is the first to enter the contested space that is the unique educational site of traumatized Urban Indigenous children in Canadian child protection systems. It identifies the historic, political, socio-legal, legislative, financial and jurisdictional wrangling and impediments to their academic and traditional Indigenous educational success. Specifically, this study explores the intersectionality of educational and child protection issues identified in the literature and personal experiences of twenty-nine Urban Indigenous former children in Canada’s child protection system and representatives of two Urban Indigenous delegated child protection agencies. The research participants claim Indigenous membership or ancestry in fifty-two First Nations and Métis communities and either grew up on, or are currently living on, traditional Coast Salish territories in the Urban communities of Victoria and Vancouver, BC. Saulteaux star blanket theoretical and methodological approaches inform the development of a holistic Saulteaux Star Blanket Urban Indigenous Educational Organizational Model (SBEOM). This SBEOM requires Indigenous advocacy and legislation; governance and staff; cultures, languages, traditions and ceremonies; mentoring by former Indigenous children in care; child in care education and support; specific targeted funding; assessment, planning, implementation and review; service delivery protocols, political collaboration and coordination. The twenty-nine Urban Indigenous “voices of experience” offer audible, and strategically critical guidance to Indigenous and non-Indigenous politicians, policy-makers, social workers, educators and advocates about one model that may help to address the educational abyss between Urban Indigenous children in provincial child protection systems and every other Canadian student population. The results of this study link the educational outcomes of traumatized Urban Indigenous children to a strategic intersectional approach that accounts for social determinants such as a violent gendered and racist child protection, educational and colonial history. The enforced relocation of many Urban Indigenous peoples, and enforced constructions of Urban Indigenous children’s socio-cultural and political identities must also be considered. Recommendations asserted by the Urban Indigenous participants, who are rights-based representatives of larger Indigenous nations, are synthesized from the data as necessary components of culturally competent social work and educational legislation, policies and services for the burgeoning Urban Indigenous population in Canada.

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