Section 4: Reciprocal Research and Practice
Selkirk College: Exploring Reconciliation Through Community College Education
In 2016, Selkirk College received a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) grant to conduct research on exploring reconciliation through community college education. Through this research project, Selkirk College addressed the challenge of identifying its role as a public post-secondary institution in the work of reconciliation. Specifically, as a community college located in a rural region with diverse Indigenous communities, Selkirk College asked the question: How does a community college respectfully engage in reconciliation through education with the First Nations and Métis communities in the traditional territories in which it operates?
This research was framed in an Indigenous paradigm where the investigators worked collaboratively with their community members, including First Nations, Métis, and other Indigenous community members (non-status/organizations), and it was participatory, with the cooperation of Elders, residential school survivors, and student and youth groups. These groups decided, along with the lead investigator, how they would prefer the data to be collected. Some of the options for the participatory approach to data collection included focus groups, gatherings, and interviews.
By having a deeper understanding of its role in reconciliation, the college can strive to create a post-secondary education environment that includes authentic Indigenous voice, is based on truth and mutual respect, and follows the values and behaviours that the community identifies. In exploring the meaning of reconciliation, the college recognizes that each First Nations, Métis, and other Indigenous community throughout its operational region requires an independent dialogue to determine the behaviours and values that the community wishes to see reflected in the college’s efforts in reconciliation.
This project was unique in organization and consisted of two research teams, which were led by two Indigenous primary investigators designated by the First Nations. Informed by these values and behaviours, the research team developed tools to implement “systemic change” in education and address the knowledge and values gap for college staff, instructors, and students wanting to understand their role in the reconciliation efforts. These efforts will continue to strengthen the relationships between the First Nations, Métis, and other Indigenous communities and the cluster of post-secondary institutions throughout the B.C. Southern Interior.
Goals of this proposed research project were to:
- Further understand the impact of residential schools
- Further understand Indigenous communities’ expectations for public post-secondary community colleges today
- Continue to strengthen relationships based on respect and reciprocity with partner Nations and the Indigenous communities served by increasing enrolment, satisfaction, and retention of Indigenous students
- Develop tools and resources that support and guide students and staff and produce the kinds of values and behaviours identified in the dialogues