Broken Circle: Urban Aboriginal Youth and the Drop-out Question

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White, Amber
Art , Education , Sharing Circle , Storytelling , Aboriginal , High School , Drop-Out , Colonization
Based on findings from the National Household Survey, Statistics Canada (2012) recently released a report indicating that slightly less than one-third of First Nations persons living off reserve (between the ages of 18-44) did not earn their secondary school diploma or equivalent. Given the lack of student voices found in existing studies (Schissel & Wortherspoon, 2003) and because of the concentration of urban Aboriginal persons in Sudbury (Statistics Canada: Aboriginal Conditions in Census Metropolitan Areas, 2005), this study focused on hearing from those voices in that area. Accordingly, this thesis explored how eight urban Aboriginal youth (18-29 years of age) perspectives can illuminate reasons for this problem and suggest some solutions to it. Through the framework of Critical Race Theory (CRT) and Tribal Critical Race Theory (TribalCrit), I employ data analysis as a tool useful to further the interests of emancipating marginalized individuals from systems of oppression (e.g., discrimination against one’s gender, race, class, ethnicity, religion, mental/physical ability, and/or other social classifications; McMillan & Schumacher, 2010). CRT works to bare witness to the voices of marginalized groups and individuals on the basis of their race (Willis et al., 2007). Emerging from CRT is TribalCrit (Brayboy, 2005). This theoretical framework extends from a specialized focus on issues of race and is used to expose the workings of colonization on the lives of Aboriginal groups and individuals (Brayboy, 2005). The collection of data occurred in three phases: (a) artistic activity, (b) Sharing Circle, and (c) individual storytelling. Using thematic analysis, I coded the data and created a narrative from the participants’ perspectives. Results of this study illuminate the participants’ perceptions on their formal learning journey and their decision to leave school prior to graduation.
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