UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Mindful listening : Indigenous adult basic education learners speak about returning to school Emmonds, Francine


Returning to school to complete secondary studies is a pivotal event in the life of an Indigenous adult learner, yet there is a gap in the academic literature about student voices describing their experiences. This qualitative case study from the unceded traditional territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations focused on students at the Native Education College urban Indigenous adult learning centre. The study sought to make space for student storywork that expressed important elements of adult basic education (ABE) learner experiences. A conceptual framework based on oral traditional teachings of maskikimiskanow (the medicine journey), and of mino pimatisiwin (a good life), as well as the Seven Teachings of respect, honesty, courage, love, humility, wisdom and truth, informed an Indigenous methodology that incorporated culturally relevant research methods and an overall approach that sought to demonstrate respect and relationality. Thirteen students were interviewed and shared some of their stories of returning to school. School instructors, administrators, Elders – in residence, and one student supporter were also interviewed about ABE and lifelong learning. Cree Elders from Saskatchewan and from my home area of Ochekwi Sipi, Manitoba were consulted, as well as two additional instructor / administrators. Thematic analyses revealed factors of the greatest importance to the students’ experiences of returning to school were motivation and readiness to return to school, participation in the intake assessment, and the finding of community within the school. The greatest impact was the finding of supportive, culturally connected community within the school. This occurred as a result of peer, Elder, and staff support, and the everyday “place” of the school that offered culturally relevant supports with its Longhouse structure and tangible connections to a physical place on the land where people gathered to be and to learn. This research contributes valuable information for other prospective adult learners, Tribal education authorities, ABE instructors, administrators, and policy and programming personnel. It adds to the academic literature for Indigenous ABE subject matter and Indigenous research methodology. In bringing a strong student perspective from these adult learners, this research values, acknowledges, and empowers their voices and story contributions.

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International