Theses (Indigenous Education)

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    Tó: nya'teká:yen tsi Entewà:ronke'
    (2024-01-03) Brant, Tahohtharátye William Joseph; McIvor, Onowa
    This study explores the use of Kanyen’kéha first-language (K1) speaker documentation in adult Kanyen’kéha additional language (K2) learning. For K2 learners to achieve “nya’teká:yen tsi yonhrónhka’,” the highest levels of Kanyen’kéha oral language proficiency, in the current context of Onkwehonwe’néha revitalization in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory (TMT), learners must access and utilize K1 speaker knowledge and experience. The current vitality status at TMT makes K1 speaker documentation a valuable source for this integral learner need. With great foresight, Tsi Tyónhnheht Onkwawén:na, TMT’s language and cultural centre, has collected K1 documentation for, with, and by their speaker community periodically since 2013 in a project called Ratiwennókwas. An integral part of this research project, the Ratiwennókwas documentation collection served as an exemplar and prompt for focus group and interview discussion concerning K1 documentation use for language learning. K1 speaker, K2 practitioner, and K2 learner participants in focus groups and interviews shared their experiences which clearly exemplified a “Collaborative Practitioner Documentation Approach” for planning, implementing, and disseminating K1 documentation for K2 learning. Findings from these discussions identified three common principles: language documentation for learning must be relational, innovative, and accessible. The products from this research include: a comprehensive catalogue, and online repository Ratiwennókwas K1 documentation resources; audio/visual presentations discussing the collaborative practitioner documentation approach; and a K2 learning unit exemplar utilizing K1 speaker documentation.
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    The responsibilities of Linguistics programs: preparing and supporting Linguistics students in collaborative, revitalization-oriented work
    (2022-05-02) Demson, Deirdre; Czaykowska-Higgins, Ewa; Lukaniec, Megan
    The Linguistics field has encountered many incisive critiques of its fieldwork and documentation practices regarding Indigenous languages in recent years, yet, for this most part, this important scholarly work seems to have made little impact on the way that Linguistics students are being taught and trained. Many Linguistics students, especially those who are non-Indigenous, leave Linguistics programs lacking both necessary preparation and support in collaborative, revitalization-oriented language research with Indigenous communities. This thesis takes up the question of what constitutes ethical language work with Indigenous speech communities, and argues finally that curricula must provide instruction and training in preparing students to undertake collaborative research practices not only by providing such instruction within dedicated fieldwork courses, but also by making alterations to the full scope of Linguistics curricula and program designs. The thesis also incorporates an examination of the ideologies that underpin the Linguistics field and that hinder its ability to orient itself aright towards Indigenous language revitalization. The centrepiece of the thesis comprises interviews with four scholars, all of whom work in or adjacent to the Linguistics field, who offer knowledge and practical insights into the causes and perpetuation of the complex problems at the heart of these programs as they pertain to Indigenous language revitalization. On the basis of the thesis’s findings, practical proposals for decolonizing Linguistics programs are discussed.
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    Reflections on emerging language in adult learners of Nuwä Abigip an Indigenous language of California
    (2021-08-31) Grant, Laura Marie; D'Arcy, Alexandra
    In 2001, an estimated 50 Indigenous languages were spoken in California, USA; none had more than 100 speakers. Through statewide efforts by Indigenous language workers and their allies, revitalization strategies have since proliferated, many highlighting immersion learning and linguistic documentation. In their homeland in Tehachapi, California, two fluent Elders and five learner/teachers designed this study as co-researchers to reflect on the effects of strategies we had implemented to support new speakers of nuwä abigip (Kawaiisu), a polysynthetic Uto-Aztecan language. Our community-based team used methods of dialogic inquiry including the conversational method and a graphic language mapping technique. We videotaped remembered stories of our varied language acquisition experiences, focusing especially on the 15 years after community language revitalization was initiated. The collection of videotaped narratives and the graphic language maps were analyzed to understand how the new adult second-language speakers believed our learning experiences had enabled us to use nuwä abigip. Co-researchers remembered nuwä abigip competencies believed to have been gained though a sequence of strategies, some overlapping, that featured immersion learning complemented by linguistic analysis. Common patterns in language development were explored, especially as they related to learners’ unfolding understanding of the language’s rich morphology. The team concluded the study by reflecting on how the two research methods of dialogic inquiry had aided them in expressing the culmination of their experiences.
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    The impact of Congenital Long QT Syndrome on First Nations children and youth in Northern British Columbia
    (2020-08-23) Bene Watts, Simona; Arbour, Laura; Rodriguez de France, Maria del Carmen
    Background: Long QT syndrome (LQTS) is a cardiac condition which predisposes individuals to syncope, seizures, and sudden cardiac death. There is a high prevalence of congenital LQTS in a First Nations community in Northern British Columbia due to the founder variant p.V205M in the KCNQ1 gene. Additionally, two other variants of interest are present in this population: the KCNQ1 p.L353L variant, previously noted to modify the phenotype of LQTS in adults, and the CPT1A p.P479L variant, a metabolic variant common in Northern Indigenous populations associated with hypoglycemia and sudden unexpected infant death. Methods: We performed a mixed methods study to better understand the impact of LQTS in children and youth in this First Nations community. To learn about the clinical impact of LQTS, and better understand the effects of the KCNQ1 and CPT1A variants in children, we used statistical analysis to compare the cardiac phenotypes of 211 First Nations children with and without the p.V205M, p.L353L and p.P479L variants, alone and in combination. Ordinary Least Squares linear regression was used to compare the highest peak corrected QT interval (QTc). The peak QTc is an electrocardiogram measurement used in risk stratification of LQTS patients. Logistic regression was used to compare the rates of syncope and seizures experienced in childhood. Additionally, to learn about the lived-experience of LQTS, we interviewed one young First Nations adult about her experiences growing up with LQTS as a teenager. From this interview, we conducted a qualitative case study analysis using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. All research was done in partnership with the First Nations community using community-based participatory methods. Results: We found that the p.V205M variant conferred a 22.4ms increase in peak QTc (p<0.001). No other variants or variant interaction effects were observed to have a significant impact on peak QTc. No association between the p.V205M variant and loss of consciousness (LOC) events (syncope and seizures) was observed (OR(95%CI)=1.3(0.6-2.8); p=0.531). However, children homozygous for p.P479L were found to experience 3.3 times more LOC events compared to non-carriers (OR=3.3(1.3-8.3); p=0.011). With regard to the qualitative portion of the thesis, four superordinate (main) themes emerged from the case study: Daily life with Long QT Syndrome, Interactions with Medical Professionals, Finding Reassurance, and The In-Between Age. We found that even though our participant was asymptomatic and felt that she was not impacted by LQTS in her daily life, she considered certain elements of the condition to be stressful, such as taking a daily beta-blocker. Conclusion: These results suggest that while the KCNQ1 p.V205M variant is observed to significantly prolong the peak QTc, the CPT1A p.P479L variant is more strongly associated with LOC events in children from this community. More research is needed to further determine the effect of these variants; however, our preliminary findings suggest management strategies, such as whether beta-blockers are indicated for p.V205M carriers, may need to be reassessed. The importance of developing a holistic, well-balanced approach to medical care, taking into consideration the personal perspectives and unique medical circumstances of each child is exemplified in this study.
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    Goyatıı̀ K’aàt’ıı̀ Ats’edee, K’aàt’ıı̀ Adets’edee: Ho!
    (2019-05-06) Erasmus, Margaret Therese; Saxon, Leslie
    This study investigates key components for effective Indigenous adult language learning and resulting health and wellness benefits following a Dene research paradigm with Grounded Theory applications. Eight colleagues in the Master’s of Indigenous Language Revitalization (MILR) program at the University of Victoria participated in open ended discussions on their experiences in learning their Indigenous languages as adults. These Indigenous adults reclaiming their ancestral languages report experiencing benefits related to health and overall well-being. Physical fitness and healthy weight loss, emotional healing and a greater sense of identity all surfaced for my colleagues while working towards or achieving fluency in their languages. The main methods of successful language learning used were the Master-Apprentice Program, Total Physical Response and Accelerated Second Language Acquisition. Tips for learning the languages are included.
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    K’asba’e T’oh: sustaining the intergenerational transmission of Tāłtān
    (2017-09-01) Morris, Kāshā Julie Anne; McIvor, Onowa; Saxon, Leslie Adele
    The Tahltan language is endangered and at a critical juncture because there are now fewer than 30 fluent speakers. The Tahltan Nation is working to change this by creating many different opportunities for language learning, focusing on programming, documentation, and professional development and training. One way that our language is being revitalized is through immersion programs for young children. Using ‘Tahltan Voiceability’ as the overarching methodology, this study reports on the language nest model as an immersion method of Indigenous language revitalization in Tahltan communities in northern British Columbia. Parents, language mentors, and administrators shared their perspectives and experiences regarding the way in which K’asba’e T’oh (the Dease Lake Language Nest) began in Tātl’ah (Dease Lake), how things are progressing, and what motivated and continues to motivate people to be involved. Through an analysis of these conversations, I share esdahūhedech (their tellings) and report on emerging themes. With this immersion setting in place, there is hope that this program will create speakers, inspire others to learn our language, and be part of increasing the proficiency of language learners, thereby moving our language out of the endangered status. This study is part of a growing body of research in Canada studying language nests to promote the intergenerational transmission of Indigenous languages.
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    Culture is lived, language gives it life
    (2016-08-24) Brown, Joan; Jacobs, Peter
    The overall goal of this paper is to explore the various learning strategies of our Ancestors with one purpose in mind, to find a way to strengthen our hul’q’umi’num’ revitalization efforts. Particularly, the research considers hul’q’umi’num’ in the context of a much larger system, that is, its relationship to the land, the culture and its people. It is my idea that studying language within this cultural context and relating language recovery strategies to canoe ceremonial practices and experiences will reveal a preferred Coast Salish learning sequence, necessary values and the essential attitudes required for reclaiming an Indigenous language. In essence, it will teach us how to live and learn from a supernatural being like hul’q’umi’num’. What I have come to realize is that this canoe learning model, a gift from the Elders, has been left to help us understand that learning progresses through a sacred process that is reliant on two domains. To be exact our learning model is entrenched in two separate but mutually supporting worlds; a spiritual world and a physical world. I argue that defining these unique learning techniques will reveal a natural learning sequence and a natural learning framework that ultimately, will assist language teachers in developing lessons from a Coast Salish perspective.
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    Xaad Kilang T'alang Dagwiieehldaang
    (2016-05-09) Bell, Lucy; Urbanczyk, Suzanne Claire
    The Haida language, Xaad Kil is dangerously close to extinction and in need of heroic action. The purpose of this study is to find out what ancient traditions and beliefs we could incorporate into our language revitalization efforts. Drawing on archival literature and community knowledge, I found almost 100 traditional ways to support Xaad Kil revitalization. There are four main chapters: Haida foods, Haida medicines, Haida rituals and ceremonies and Haida supernatural beings that could contribute to Xaad Kil revitalization. The food chapter features two-dozen traditional foods from salmon to berries that support a healthy lifestyle for Haida language speakers and that could strengthen our connections to the supernatural world. The Haida medicine chapter features two dozen traditional medicines from single-delight to salt water that could heal, strengthen and purify the Haida language learner. The ritual and ceremony chapter features over two-dozen rituals from devil’s club rituals to labret piercing ceremonies that could strengthen Haidas and our language learning. The supernatural being chapter features twenty-three supernatural beings including Greatest Crab and Lady Luck that could bring a language learner wealth, knowledge, luck and strength. This study suggests that a Xaad kil learner and the Xaad kil language need to be pure, protected, connected, lucky, strong, healthy, respected, loved and wise. The path to these qualities is within the traditions and beliefs featured in this research. This study is significant because it shows that the language revitalization answers are within and all around us.
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    The Wind Waits For No One: Nı̨hts’ı Dene Ası̨́ Henáoréhɂı̨́le Ǫt’e: Spirituality in a Sahtúgot’ı̨nę Perspective
    (2015-05-01) Tatti, Fibbie; Saxon, Leslie Adele
    The Sahtúgot’ı̨nę have lived in the Sahtú Region around Great Bear Lake since time immemorial. Our Elders believe that spirituality is the foundation for our language, culture and worldview and that it is essential for our language and culture to be taught in the context of spirituality. This thesis provides a description and a definition of spirituality from the perspective of the Sahtúgot’ı̨nę, distinguishing spirituality from concepts such as worldview, culture and medicine power. In keeping with our traditional ways of preserving and transmitting knowledge to future generations, the paper relies heavily on stories passed on to us from our Elders. The paper elaborates on key concepts of Sahtúgot’ı̨nę spirituality. First, like human beings, all animals on this earth have a living spirit or bets’ı̨nę́. Other entities on this earth - plants and trees, the water and the wind - are also living beings with their own yǝ́dı́ı. Specific geographic sites with a special significance to the Sahtúgot’ı̨nę are also said to be yǝ́dı́ı. The other key concept is the existence of three dimensions of existence and their inter-relationship which is crucial to the understanding of Sahtúgot’ı̨nę spirituality.
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    Key terms and concepts for exploring Nîhiyaw Tâpisinowin the Cree worldview
    (2014-12-24) Napoleon, Art; Saxon, Leslie Adele
    Through a review of literature and a qualitative inquiry of Cree language practitioners and knowledge keepers, this study explores traditional concepts related to Cree worldview specifically through the lens of nîhiyawîwin, the Cree language. Avoiding standard dictionary approaches to translations, it provides inside views and perspectives to provide broader translations of key terms related to Cree values and principles, Cree philosophy, Cree cosmology, Cree spirituality, and Cree ceremonialism. It argues the importance of providing connotative, denotative, implied meanings and etymology of key terms to broaden the understanding of nîhiyaw tâpisinowin and the need for an encyclopaedic approach to understanding these key terms. It explores the interrelatedness of nîhiyawîwin with nîhiyaw tâpisinowin and the need to recognize them both as part of a Cree holistic paradigm.
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