Displaced Culture: Re-defining Tradition within Two Pedagogical Paradigms

M.A. Thesis, Trent University, 2000

Rhonda L. Paulsen


The purpose of this research is to establish the value of Native culture-based alternative forms of education (i.e. Reserve schools) as opposed to the mainstream educational system (i.e. off Reserve schools) as measured by the successful completion of secondary school by Native students. In order to ensure that the data represent the study group of Native students, in-depth and unstructured interviews were conducted with all participants on an individual basis that enabled them to tell their own story in their own way.

This study focuses on one group of Native students who have attended both educational streams. Through a qualitative research process, their stories unfold and reveal information that leads to an understanding of the high truancy and attrition rates of Aboriginal students. The findings indicate that these particular students, who had difficulties in mainstream situations, were successful in culturally inclusive settings. Specifically, the important features that the students have identified are revitalization of: 1) language; 2) tradition; and 3) culture, which then seems to re-build self-esteem and sense of identity for the students.

The results of this study are useful specifically to the two communities in which the research was conducted – M’Chigeeng and Wikwemikong, both on Manitoulin Island in Ontario – and more generally to the mainstream systems and other alternative education programs. As well, the material can be used to instigate future research in this area of study.