Trauma and Resilience in Aboriginal Adult Learners' Post-Secondary Experience
Author(s)Lindstrom, Gabrielle Ellen
KeywordsIndigenous adult learners
Education--Adult and Continuing
Education--Guidance and Counseling
Native American Studies
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AbstractInformed by my own experiences as an Indigenous adult learner, this study explored the interplay between trauma and resilience in the post-secondary educational experiences of Indigenous adult learners. There were nine participants and I utilized two methods of data collection. In one focus group session, I gathered the perspectives of three post-secondary student support professionals who worked closely with Indigenous adult learners. I conducted single, individual interviews with each of six Indigenous adult learners who were students at one of four major post-secondary institutes in a large city in a Western prairie province.
Employing a focused ethnography informed by Indigenous philosophy and Western theory, the purpose of my research was to determine the interplay between trauma and resilience as a potential pathway to improve educational experiences for Indigenous students. One question was central to my research endeavor: how do Indigenous post-secondary students understand and make meaning of their responses to traumatic experiences within a social context that is informed by Canada's colonial history? The focus group session and individual interviews were digitally recorded with the consent of all participants, and personally transcribed. The findings from the data yielded important insights into the ways that trauma experiences and resultant barriers impacted Indigenous students’ ability to succeed and highlighted a process of growth that arose from struggle. The students’ stories held an overwhelming amount of struggle, suffering, loss and trauma which seemed to surround the student participants as they embarked on their post-secondary educational journeys. However, I found threads of hope scattered across each story. These were the fibres that were woven into the fabric which envelops Indigenous cultures – those unmistakable moments in which the students’ perseverance, endurance and determination glimmered brightly and rose above the struggle.
A distinct conceptualization of resilience was contextualized within an Indigenous worldview that could be used to inform pedagogical approaches and offers valuable insights for post-secondary administrators and educators into how best to support and foster the success of Indigenous students. My hope is that in sharing these stories of suffering, we can create new opportunities for learning through a pedagogy of resilience.
Lindstrom, G. E. (2018). Trauma and resilience in Aboriginal adult learners' post-secondary experience (Unpublished doctoral thesis). University of Calgary, Calgary, AB.