UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Drumming my way home : an intergenerational narrative inquiry about Secwepemc identities Martin, Georgina


The point of origin for my research is my birth: I was born in the Coqualeetza Indian Hospital. I was denied contact with my mother because she had tuberculosis and was deemed contagious. Indian Hospitals were established to house Indigenous peoples to control contamination. In my mind, I was born into legislated interference. My research puzzle emerges from my encounters with what I call a lost “sense of belonging”. Through exploration, I educated myself, my community, and the public about what happens to an Indigenous person when they are removed from critical aspects of their cultural identities. As part of the journey, I weave together two methodologies that support and protect the intense emotional work that accompanies my inquiry. These are Indigenous Storywork and Narrative Inquiry. Indigenous Storywork allows me to employ important protocols that align with community-based ethics while conducting research with Indigenous communities; Narrative Inquiry, particularly autobiographical Narrative Inquiry, allows me to engage safely and relationally in deep personal reflection. I examine what it means to be Secwepemc from my and my community’s perspective as I engage with the lived-experience stories of a Secwepemc youth and Elder. I tell of my own lived experiences and share my participants’ narratives; this story-sharing highlights the importance of knowing oneself and will assist other Indigenous peoples to define their own identities. I ascertain that Indigenous Knowledge is anchored in our identities and connections to our cultural rootedness, often inspired by the cultural teachings of grandparents. My autobiographical narrative, along with the participants’ stories, identifies the importance of intergenerational knowledge transmission, familial relationships, and land-based/culture-based learnings in my Secwepemc identity study. The Secwepemc hand drum theoretically and metaphorically epitomizes Indigenous Knowledge; it ensures that my research project remains balanced in terms of upholding community protocols while honouring the Elders’/grandparents’ teachings. Rather than allow the influx of external influences to hold Indigenous peoples in a subjugated position, I propose that narrative-based research increases our advancement in research, academia, and healing. This dissertation offers an alternative way to tell our truths and to remove Indigenous histories from the periphery of mainstream society.

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