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A Language, a View and a Map: Indigenous Culture and Youth Mentoring Open Access


Other title
cultural continuity
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Zeidler, Martin
Supervisor and department
Blair, Heather (Elementary Education)
Examining committee member and department
Donald, Dwayne (Secondary Education)
Dunn, William (Secondary Education)
Ellis, Julia (Elementary Education)
Bilash, Olenka (Secondary Education)
Reyhner, Jon (External Examiner), Department of Educational Specialties, Northern Arizona University
Gardner, Ethel (Elementary Education)
Department of Elementary Education

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Education
Degree level
This ethnographic research investigates the sociolinguistic climate and practical challenges in accessing and opening local space for Indigenous cultural expression. The author premised this research on two questions: What is the practical process involved in the organization of a community-based cultural mentoring project? Secondly, within the context of this local research, what are the participants’ perceptions of the cultural experience? Over the past 120 years, the immeasurable damage of the Canadian residential school system in systematically usurping local Indigenous authority, destabilizing cultural infrastructure and wresting away control of language has effectively eroded and marginalized Indigenous cultural expression leaving thousands of adolescents institutionalized in government care, and resulted in several generations of Canadians culturally removed from their own heritage. This ethnography surveys an investigative path from its early planning through to two series of community-run meetings. The core of the data was drawn from these two sets of mentoring meetings; pilot sessions held in the summer of 2013, and a second set of youth meetings held several months later. Following each set of meetings follow-up interviews were conducted with each of the participants. The central discourse emerging from this research underscores that as a local expression of cultural continuity, mentoring opens inter-generational communicative space for young Indigenous people to enter into the conversation and continuity of their cultural heritage. Under the stewardship of fluent speakers, mentoring is premised on informal fellowship, recognition of local protocol and a communicative ethic that retains local authority over cultural self-expression. Cultural worldview is articulated by the language fluency of the previous generations, and that trustworthy intergenerational dynamic engages young with the qualitative space of their cultural heritage. Lastly, while a community context rightfully privileges the authority and lineage of local self-expression, the socio-linguistic challenges and implications emerging out of this Indigenous literacy research offer a discerning vantage point informing critical perspectives on the epistemic authority and production of broad cultural and institutional discourses.
This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for the purpose of private, scholarly or scientific research. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
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