Braided strings on light background. Unity concept

The FNWSC builds upon strong partnership with Western University, Faculty of Education under the Leadership of Dr. Brent Debassige

Project 1 First Nations Knowledge and Land-based Education in local Schooling Contexts

This proposed research project will investigate how staff members or visiting educators are integrating place based Indigenous knowledge and/or land-based education into local First Nations Elementary School classrooms, curriculums, pedagogies (ways of teaching), and what uses there are for collaborative inquiry (or professional learning communities) on this topic. Using a case study methodology with a focus on educational practice, the research will involve an open-ended exploratory investigation into community educational leaders’ (e.g., Education & Executive Directors; school principals; teachers; Elders; traditional knowledge keepers; youth leaders; and other leaders as defined by the community) perspectives on what they believe are the priorities for formal and informal education and lifelong learning in the community (e.g., place based Indigenous knowledge and/or land-based education). Our proposed data collection methods include facilitating conversational interviews, research circles (or focus groups), reviewing documents, and, when possible, recording firsthand accounts while in the community. 

This research study builds on the findings from community engagement sessions, input at FNWSC strategic planning sessions from local community leaders, and additional documentation from each FNWSC participating member. The findings from this study are expected to provide research-based evidence to support the FNWSC and its members in developing and expanding on integrating place based Indigenous knowledge and land-based pedagogies and curriculums in association with local schools and other educational environments, generally. Moreover, the research publications will reinforce future funding requests and provide evidence to support land-based and Indigenous knowledge-centred educational initiatives at the local level. 

Project 2 Research Circle Project

The Research Circle (formerly referred to as the Research Arm) is a voluntary discourse space between researchers, scholars, educators and First Nation community members focused on First Nation education jurisdiction issues, challenges and opportunities. The Research Circle is currently undertaking a writing project to tell their story as scholars invited to engage in inquiries confronting First Nation community education leaders undertaking education jurisdiction work.

Indigenous scholars who participated in the First Nations Community of Inquiry & Praxis (FNCIP) between June 2020 and March 2021 are invited to participate in this next publishing phase of the work. They are using a self-reflexive auto-ethnographic methodology to share their experience being part of FNCIP.

What is FNCIP?
The First Nations Community of Inquiry & Praxis (FNCIP) is a group of Indigenous scholars invited to discuss various topics of inquiry of the First Nations with Schools Collective (FNWSC) via Zoom meetings. Western University’s Faculty of Education leads this initiative on behalf of the FNWSC under the direction of Brent Debassige, Associate Professor. The FNCIP planning team is made up of post-graduate scholars, M.Ed students, PHD students and the Structural Readiness Coordinator, Leslee White-Eye. Scholars attend when their schedules allow. It is a voluntary discourse space that convenes meetings over 1 ½ hour time slots via Zoom. Invitations with guiding question(s) are provided in advance of the meeting.

Purpose for FNCIP?
The FNWSC began exploring research and innovation outcomes in October 2017. Forming strategic partnerships with organizations to advance First Nations’ education goals was a common vision of the eight communities of the Collective which included research institutions like universities. The FNWSC follows the United Nations Development Programme model which believes community development is driven by community people for themselves. Thus, FNWSC community leaders forwarded names of scholars to be invited to a discussion table to discuss the many topics of inquiry at the FNWSC table. It was a way for communities to involve their members in education jurisdiction work while gaining valuable insight on inquiry topics from their perspectives.

This project’s activities will include working with the FNWSC and Research Circle to identify each community’s research protocol, record of educational research, and educational capacity and needs. It would also include evaluating the research model and refining it as appropriate and collaborating on developing research proposals, applying for research funding, conducting research and disseminating findings to relevant audiences.  

Project 3 Culture-based Curriculum Framing Project

The FNWSC Curriculum Framing Project is now underway. This project aims to centre Indigenous knowledge values and principles in curriculum development. It will continue to do this by engaging Elders throughout the project, seeking their stories about how learning takes place culturally. Drawing on these stories, curriculum writers will reflect on their own curriculum development practices and challenge views of how learning is structured. Therefore, the Ontario curriculum will not be the starting point for this curriculum framing project.

This process is an emergent one with the goal of producing a framework for Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee culturally based curriculum thinking. The final deliverable during this first phase of the work will be a draft curriculum framework paper based on initial discussions.

Featured Presenters
The First Nations with Schools Collective (FNWSC) kicked off the curriculum framing project with Jim Dumont on Tuesday, March 9 from 10 am to 12 pm. He provided his thoughts on the road ahead, starting places to begin our curriculum thinking journey and key principles and values that must remain central to the process.