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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Self-validation : sources that Aboriginal university students pursue Wawrykow, Natasha Alexandria


In order to successfully navigate the hurdles of academic life, it is vital that students have access to self-worth domains. Considering the impact of dislocation and/or failed pursuit of self-worth on a student’s sense of purpose, motivation, and academic success, this research investigated Aboriginal students’ sources of and access to self-validation while attending university away from their cultural context. A narrative inquiry research design was used, and participants (N = 6) orally shared a written account of their self-worth experiences. The design included the completion of the following: (a) validationgram exercise (Ishiyama, 1995), (b) written self-worth narrative, and (c) focus group sessions to yield data for thematic content analysis. This collaborative method of analysis, was used to identify themes across participants’ self-validation narratives. This method was specifically chosen for its fit with the oral storytelling tradition used by Aboriginal Peoples to preserve and share their history, values, and practices. The results revealed Aboriginal university students’ specific sources and methods of pursing self-validation when attending university and related themes and addressed how relocating to attend a university can result in barriers in accessing traditional sources of validation (e.g., family, land-based medicines, Elder teachings). Alternative and/or modified sources of validation accessed by Aboriginal students, when attending university, were identified in this investigation. The study’s theoretical, clinical, methodological and future research implications are discussed. It is recommended that researchers investigate Aboriginal students’ preferred and accessed sources of self-validation while attending university needs to focus on programming that supports the role of culturally related sources of validation in Aboriginal students’ well-being and cultural identity.

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