Relationship Building with Aboriginal Elders in the Publicly Funded Secondary School Classroom: A Study of Ethical Space from an Aboriginal Persepective
MetadataShow full item record
This is a current story of ethical space in education that is often neglected in the design of educational experiences for Aboriginal students. This story is told through an Aboriginal lens rooted in the structured Two Row Wampum Belt relational agreement between Aboriginal peoples and Settlers. Through ethnographic narrative based on an extensive literature review, individual in-depth interviews, and a personal journal, this study documents the processes of acceptance, silence, complications, and then rejection to position Aboriginal Elders as inclusive bodies of knowledge in publicly funded secondary school classrooms. Aboriginal Elders are valued as Knowledge Holders, as Aboriginal teachers, guides, and mentors. Yet, the complexities of colonial rights, politics, and policies continue to intrude deeply into the lives of Aboriginal peoples to cause silence, confusion, and struggle rather than an evolution of new knowledge amongst two co-existing solitudes under the original terms of the Two Row Wampum Belt. The study was delayed and then came to an end when the school boards and local schools scrutinized its operating policies and unresolved funding issues. This study demonstrated that despite the Two Row Wampum Belt agreement that promised a co- existent relationship between Aboriginal peoples and Settlers, the strategy of inviting Aboriginal Elders to work alongside teachers in the classroom was viewed as being in conflict with the Settler’s institutional/educational objectivities, and, as such, was denied to Aboriginal students.