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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Collaborating across communities to co-construct supports for Indigenous (and all) students Yee, Nikki Lynne


Colonialism is a significant problem that impacts how Indigenous (and all) students engage with learning, and how teachers create learning contexts. In this dissertation study, I examined how a Community of Inquiry (CoI), comprised of Indigenous and non-Indigenous educators, parents, academics, and community members came together to (re)imagine educational contexts that could better support Indigenous (and all) students. Although much of the research was co-constructed with members of the CoI, the research design, activities, and interpretation were informed by literature discussing colonialism, decolonization, and collaborative inquiry focusing on CoIs. I used a four-dimensional model of colonialism to clarify challenges in the educational system. Decolonizing perspectives were used to critically confront colonialism, and (re)imagine ethical relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples. CoI models offered a way to build on the strength of diverse perspectives. These theoretical considerations were a springboard for investigating how the CoI came together, what they identified as key challenges students and teachers navigated, and the pedagogical principles and practices they co-constructed to support Indigenous (and all) learners in a small school district in British Columbia, Canada. This research was conducted using a critical ethnographic case study methodology, grounded in decolonizing perspectives. Within this approach, research methods were co-constructed with participants to ensure that the research undertaken was situated and responsive to the needs of Indigenous students. Findings from this study highlighted specific CoI structures, such as facilitation, context, communication, and goals that opened possibilities for reflection and transformation among CoI participants. Using these structures, participants co-constructed understandings, grappled with pedagogical questions, and (re)imagined a shared future. Participants built from this foundation to create a set of seven principles and practices that could cultivate supportive learning environments. The principles and practices they co-constructed were designed to inspire educators’ self-reflection, create a space that accepts and builds from the strengths of Indigenous and decolonizing perspectives, and bolster supports for Indigenous (and all) students. Lastly, I discuss how these findings contribute to the literature on CoIs, decolonizing possibilities, and pedagogical practices, and provide suggestions educators may use to open decolonizing possibilities within their own contexts.

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