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Mapping the Experiences and Effects of Colonial Material Deprivation in First Nations Early Childhood Education
- Author / Creator
- Kemble, Tibetha
Although considerable attention over the past 50 years has been paid to decolonizing First Nations primary and secondary education in Canada, a similar unsettling of colonialism within early childhood education theory, philosophy, and policy has not yet been undertaken. Indeed, and despite “unsettling” colonial theory and policy on Indigenous populations on a
global scale, no such similar examination has been undertaken in Canada.
Weaving together the fields of critical Indigenous and governmentality studies and critical theory, this dissertation seeks to methodologically trace the philosophy and objectives of Indigenous early childhood education throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries by situating it within the broader socio-historical and political context of First Nations education in Canada. To do this, this dissertation focuses on the experiences and perspectives of the Kee Tas Kee Now Tribal Council First Nations, and the newly formed Kee Tas Kee Now Tribal Council Education Authority (KTCEA), vis-a-vis early childhood development and education in their
respective communities. This research took a mixed-methods approach where I weaved together a Critical Ethnographic Case study with Indigenous Research Methodology to elevate the voices and perspectives of the research participants. In total, I conducted eleven (11) semi-structured
interviews with First Nations early childhood educators and administrators, KTCEA K-12 educators, and health program leadership. 80% of research participants for this research are
The questions that guided this research were: (1) In what ways have shifts in government policy and philosophy positively or negatively impacted First Nations ECD within
the context of Indigenous Peoples’ self-determination in Canada and autonomy and the maintenance of social order? (2) In what ways have First Nations communities actively or
passively resisted these shifts? and (3) How can First Nations resistance within the context of First Nations ECD inform program and policy development in the future?
Similar to colonial policy frameworks within and across other social systems, where material deprivation has been used to shape and affect the pace and contours of assimilation, I
argue that the sphere of First Nations early childhood education is also a site of prolonged and normalized site of material deprivation on a massive scale. This research questions and disrupts the neutrality and presumed benevolence of early childhood education philosophy and theory that informs current policy and program development for First Nations early childhood programs and services. This research concludes with an uncovering of the ways in which the
failures of government manifest in the conditions of deep material deprivation endured by many First Nations children, which can and should be understood as one of the major contributors to the observed later poor social and economic outcomes. This early deprivation results in the maintenance of hierarchies of disadvantage and the social positioning of First Nations peoples as the underclass. This research also finds that, despite centuries of colonization and deprivation, First Nations peoples and communities have adapted through micro-resistance strategies to meet the needs of their communities and to arrest the tide of eurocentrism within
education. This research concludes that decolonizing the philosophies of early childhood is understood less as the tracing of eurocentric philosophies, and more of a purposeful uncovering of the “real and symbolic violence of settler colonialism” (Tuck & Yang, 2012, p. 3) through
underfunding and deprivation. This work contributes to a growing body of scholarly work (Mosby, 2013; Mosby & Galloway, 2017; Daschuk, 2006, 2019; Neu & Therrien, 2003;
Shewell, 2004) that identifies the contours and depths of deprivation by the government within First Nations early childhood education as a tool of oppression for First Nations peoples and identifies system-level interventions in which First Nations communities can move forward to support current and future generations.
- Graduation date
- Spring 2022
- Type of Item
- Doctor of Philosophy
- This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. 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.