The social environment and Indigenous student success in a Canadian post-secondary institution

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Guinan, Dan
Indigenous education
Organizational culture
Settler society
Social relations
A qualitative case study was used to explore emerging changes in social relations at a regional university in British Columbia, Canada, following implementation of a government policy on the indigenization of public institutions. My research probed intercultural social relations using a social ecological systems framework with instructors, student support staff, and administrators at the single case institution. The university allocated significant resources to indigenization efforts but little activity was directed at changing social relations. Institutional staff did not use intercultural skills to improve social relations with Indigenous students. There was little understanding at organizational levels of why reconciliation with Indigenous peoples is required. Combining a social understanding of Indigenous world view, how culture is maintained, and how cultures interact with a historical understanding of what culture is and how others have interrelated with Indigenous culture, I proposed a Social Indigenization Model for helping individuals and institutional environments move to Indigenous acceptance and validation. In this model, as social understanding increases, employees move from a position of Indigenous bias to one of Indigenous tolerance; and as historical understanding increases, employees move from a position of Indigenous isolation to one of Indigenous acceptance. Using the four activities outlined in the Social Indigenization Model, an institution could move its social environment toward greater Indigenous acceptance in line with the Indigenous acceptance framework.
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