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A new model of Indigenous identity formation in Canadian postsecondary institutions

What role does postsecondary education play in the formation of Indigenous identity? Some argue that this impact must be negative, not only because postsecondary education draws students away from their communities, but also because of the Eurocentric worldviews that dominate most institutions. However, according to a ground-breaking study by Barbara Barnes and Cora Voyageur, the truth is much more nuanced and surprising.

During their research, Professors Barnes and Voyageur followed 60 Indigenous students from a variety of backgrounds at six postsecondary institutions in western Canada, and they present their finding here. They explore how the students’ experiences fit with conventional and Indigenous identity-formation theories, and they consider the impacts of colonization and the Indian Act.

Based on the experiences of the students, Barnes and Voyageur build an entirely new model of Indigenous identity formation in Canadian postsecondary institutions.

Barbara G. Barnes

Dr. Barbara G. Barnes is a recipient of the University of Calgary’s Olive Dickason Award, which honours exceptional Indigenous postsecondary students. She has been a contract professor for the last 10 years at the University of Calgary and Mount Royal University, teaching mainly Indigenous studies, history, and Canadian studies. She is a member of the Six Nations of the Grand River Reserve.

Cora J. Voyageur

Dr. Cora J. Voyageur is a full professor in the sociology department at the University of Calgary, where she has taught for more than 20 years. Her research interests explore the Indigenous experience in Canada, including leadership, community and economic development, women’s issues, and health. She is a Residential School Survivor and a member of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation from northern Alberta.