UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The Native Education Centre: its impact on cultural identity and educational outcomes Mirehouse, V. Grace


Few, if any accounts of First Nation history and their struggles with aboriginal land questions and rights focus on the “creative political vitality of the Indian peoples of British Columbia” (Tennant, 1990). Instead, researchers usually regard aboriginals as objects of history. First Nations’ school experiences and the negative outcomes have also generally been biased toward the notion that First Nations have and continue to be victims of colonization and a “superior” people who have and continue to oppress them. This study examined the contexts and reasons First Nations graduates gave for choosing to attend a First Nations specific institution and recounted their school experiences in relationship to First Nations culture, identity and educational and career outcomes. The process of research involved working with a research team that developed a survey questionnaire and utilized the focus group method. The participants of the study were the students who were enrolled in one of the six Skills Training programs at the Native Education Centre and who graduated during the years 1989 to 1992. The qualitative analysis of the focus group results provided texture to the quantitative analysis of the survey questionnaire data. From these findings, the researcher discussed the role of a First Nations specific institution in addressing the needs and goals of the adult learners. Based on the positive feedback of the graduates, I present a plausible agruinent that there is a critical need for the existence of places of learning such as the NEC. The study also accounts First Nations in British Columbia as politically active participants of their history who have and continue to be outspoken and active about their concerns regarding the education of their children and communities. First Nations are also characterized as actively involved in challenging federal and provincial policies which do not meet their needs in the advancement of their people. In this study of graduates who attended a First Nations specific post—secondary institution, the researcher recognized First Nations as being involved in the planning, development and implementation of educational practices to meet the needs of their communities.

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