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Composing Lives: A Narrative Inquiry into Aboriginal Youth and Families' Stories to Live By Open Access


Other title
"world" travel
Indigenous research
narrative coherence
stories to live by
narrative inquiry
Aboriginal youth and families
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Cardinal, Trudy M
Supervisor and department
Clandinin, D. Jean (Elementary Education)
Caine, Vera (Nursing)
Examining committee member and department
Glanfield, Florence (Secondary Education)
Gray, Jan (School of Education, Edith Cowan University)
Steinhauer, Evelyn (Educational Policy Studies)
Department of Elementary Education

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Throughout my life I have heard stories about what it means to be an Aboriginal person, yet no story captured the richness and complexities of my experience. As an Indigenous scholar seeking a deeper understanding of Aboriginal education in and out of schools, I continue to hear stories about who Aboriginal youth and families are supposed to be. Each time I listen, I wonder how those stories are shaping the lives of Aboriginal children, youth, and their families. Do the stories enable or constrain the way they see themselves? From within two larger SSHRC and ACCFCR funded studies looking at the experiences of Aboriginal youth and families in a Canadian urban, provincially-funded school system in Canada, I worked alongside Aboriginal youth and their families to inquire into their storied lives. My research puzzle specifically asked: What are the stories that Aboriginal youth and families tell of who they are and are becoming, and how do the other stories (cultural, familial, community, and school stories), especially those of the Indian in mind, influence or shape their stories of becoming? I engaged in a narrative inquiry which allowed me to attend to the relational accountability that is important to me. My doctoral study built capacity for Aboriginal youth and families. This study too will contribute to the larger practical and social worlds, attending to the ways in which Aboriginal youth and families make sense of the available stories that tell them who they are, while also creating spaces for new stories to be told—stories which can inform policies to be more responsive to the context and lives that are unfolding and evolving. My research has created possibilities to tell different stories of Aboriginal youth and families, while acknowledging the very real disparities and inequities Aboriginal people experience, it emphasises the possibility that Aboriginal education can build on a deeper understanding of the influence of the Indian we had in mind.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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