Indigenous Educational Dawn Breakers
Shawana, J. (2013). Indigenous Educational Dawn Breakers: University Retention. Retrieved from Thompson Rivers University
There is a dramatic increase in Aboriginal peoples obtaining a post-secondary education but there is still a significant gap compared to other Canadians. This research focused on the challenges and supports experienced by Aboriginal students in completing their program at a Canadian university. Analyzed results from a survey of Aboriginal students at Thompson Rivers University and an Aboriginal talking circle that included Aboriginal Elders, Aboriginal university support staff, and an Aboriginal instructor was used. The medicine wheel was used as a framework for analysis and discussion. The mental aspect of the medicine wheel analysis
revealed that there needs to more academic help for Aboriginal students that includes academic assessments, timely academic interventions, exit interviews, and the use of mentors. The spiritual aspect of the medicine wheel analysis described that there is a need for increased cultural activities, increased access to Elders, and a need for cultural sensitivity from instructors when there is death in the life of an Aboriginal student. The emotional aspect of the medicine wheel analysis took into account that relationships are an important source of support for Aboriginal students, with faculty, Elders, and amongst Aboriginal students. An Aboriginal
student support centre called the Gathering Place was seen as an important space that fosters relationships. The physical aspect of the medicine wheel analysis contradicted past research in that a significant number of Aboriginal students in the survey stated that they had enough financial support. However, this could be attributed to the fact that they are eligible and could be receiving funding from Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Canada through the Post-Secondary
Education Program. Aboriginal students also identified the need for additional financial support to study part-time that would require a government policy change. Both the city of Kamloops and Aboriginal students identified the need for housing. The Aboriginal population is growing significantly with Aboriginal students completing their university program. Universities and Aboriginal communities need to this into account for future planning and enrollment.