Aboriginal women in education : Honouring our experiences a vision of access to and success within the university
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This thesis explores Aboriginal women's access to and success within universities through an examination of Aboriginal women's educational narratives, along with input from key service providers from both the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal community. Implemented through the Wildfire Research Method, participants engaged in a consensusbased vision of accessible education that honours the spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and physical elements necessary for the success of Aboriginal women in university. This study positions Aboriginal women as agents of social change by allowing them to define their own needs and offer viable solutions to those needs. Further, it connects service providers from the many disconnected sectors that implicate Aboriginal women's education access. The realities of Aboriginal women are contextualized through historical, sociocultural, and political analyses, revealing the need for a decolonizing educational approach. This fosters a shift away from a deficit model toward a cultural and linguistic assets based approach that emphasizes the need for strong cultural identity formation. Participants revealed academic, cultural, and linguistic barriers and offered clear educational specifications for responsive and culturally relevant programming that will assist Aboriginal women in developing and maintaining strong cultural identities. Findings reveal the need for curriculum that focuses on decolonizing and reclaiming Aboriginal women's identities, and program outcomes that encourage balance between two worldviews-traditional and academic-through the application of cultural traditions to modern contexts, along with programming that responds to the immediate needs of Aboriginal women such as childcare, housing, and funding, and provide an opportunity for universities and educators to engage in responsive and culturally grounded educational approaches.