Skicinuwimiyewakonon: Minuwoskonuwasik Wolastoqeyal Kehkituwakonol Weaving a Wolastoqey resurgence of education
University of New Brunswick
As an Indigenous scholar and leader who is fully dedicated and committed to the healing and well-being of Indigenous peoples and communities, I questioned the equity found in our current education system, and my heart told me that, to properly seek the answers to my questions, I would need to consult my Elders, my community, and my mentors. In this engagement, I entered into a re-searching ceremony. Re-searching is the application of doing research through an Indigenous lens and implies re-searching for knowledges that we have always had since time immemorial. Re-researching can be seen as a process of Tuhkiye Ncocahq/Spiritual Awakening. The ceremony of this research is especially close to my heart because it is critical to the improvement of education for Indigenous peoples, and for me especially, the Wolastoqey peoples and my home community of Welamukotuk/Oromocto First Nation. This work is founded in or based upon elevating the voices within my community (past, present, and future) in an effort to weave together a Wolastoqey resurgence of knowledge for my community and the future generations. I believe it is necessary to provide our future generations with the tools to ensure the survival of our nation and our beautiful Wolastoqey language and culture. Such work began with the premise that, historically, education has been designed from a western perspective and, therefore, has not afforded Indigenous peoples an equitable or fulfilling education. Through a considerable review of the literature (specifically Indigenous education), I have learned a great deal from many insightful Indigenous scholars who have been doing this work for a long time. Of crucial importance, this research brings volume to Indigenous voices, and particularly, the voices of youth, parents of children in the public school system, and Elders from my home community of Welamukotuk. My research question investigates how the use of oral knowledges, Elder teachings, and Storywork can create a framework for a positive Wolastoqey resurgence of education to help generate youth engagement and wellness. The research design employs Indigenous research methodologies, and as it teaches us that research is ceremony, it advances Storywork and stories, Talking Circles, and Storywalks as methods of both data collection and reflective analysis. My research project honours the teachings of Ksakutomakon/relationality, Tetpi Pehqitahamsuwakon/relational accountability, Nusseyuwakon/respect, Tetpi Wiqsonuwakon/reciprocity and Mawankeyutomakon responsibility. Although these teachings are reflective of the work of Shawn Wilson (2008) and Margaret Kovach (2009) in their sanction of research as ceremony, it was through my re-searching that I secured a place for myself and my Mawi Nucikahsicik/co-researchers to work as a collective. This meant working to ensure all involved understood the protocols associated with a Sacred Medicine Wheel model—one that I developed as part of exploring the meaning of Indigenous research methodologies. In coming to this research, I met with Elder Imelda Perley to discuss the process and to identify the Wolastoqey name for co-researchers: “Mawi Nucikahsicik.” These members were then recruited through an open invitation to a Talking Circle in my community. This initial circle oriented these members to the research I wished to conduct, and it became the pivot in defining the remainder of this fluid research process. The co-developed questionnaire used in all interactions with participants was sanctioned by community members prior to engaging in future circles that supported youth and Elder sharing. The data collected was videorecorded, transcribed, and shared with the Mawi Nucikahsicik/co-researchers prior to use. The dissemination and protection of this research is community-based and includes a presentation sharing of my dissertation with Elders. All data belongs to my community and will be given to the Elders for safekeeping at the conclusion of the study. The intent of this research is to ensure a Wolastoqey framework for education that honours the voices of all of my community members and to improve the educational futures for our Indigenous peoples.