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UBC Theses and Dissertations

“It’s just the way things are” : reframing experiences of young motherhood in Bella Coola Krahn, Alison


This case study investigates the educational experiences of women who became parents during their adolescent years. Set in the rural community of Bella Coola, BC, this exploratory study was designed to explore the pathways participants had created or used to access educational and career opportunities, and to determine the factors women who became young mothers identify as enhancing educational engagement in their community. Using qualitative data collection methods, this study focuses on the factors that influence young mothers’ decision making with regards to their family, school and work based goals and needs. A detailed account of the social and economic history of the research setting was provided in order to situate the research findings in the contextual conditions relevant to the educational experiences of young mothers in the research setting. Aspects of Bourdieu’s Theory of Practice and Young’s Five Faces of Oppression frame the discussion of the social and political structures that influence individual’s decision making process. The findings of this study are organized according to the research questions set out according to the research questions set out in the interview schedule according to the broad themes related to the fields of education, employment and young motherhood. This research examines how the 16 women who participated in this study were making life choices that were greatly influenced by the environments within which they learned, worked and lived. Overall, research participants reported that young parenthood was a positive experience overall, even though they faced various challenges as young moms. The women interviewed in this study were motivated to attain economic and social independence for themselves, but also for the benefit of their children. The findings of this research suggest that participants viewed education as a tool that could enable an individual and community-wide shift away from poverty, economic dependence and personal dissatisfaction with current living situations.

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