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Back From the brink: decolonizing through the restoration of Secwepemc language, culture, and identity

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(Thesis) Ed.D.
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This qualitative study reports the development of an education/training model based on Secwepemc language, culture, values, beliefs, and way of life. The model includes a decolonization agenda. A critical theory framework and Indigenous research method are used to examine three basic questions. What were traditional Secwepemc epistemology and pedagogy? What disrupted these processes? What are the remedies? I introduce the context with a brief outline of our pre-contact way of life. Historical documents and Elders’ voices provide evidence of how this way of life was disrupted and impacted by the arrival of European settlers and ensuing colonization. The Elders describe their lived experiences of colonization, in particular, how their attendance at the Kamloops Indian Residential School contributed to the loss of Secwepemc language, culture, and way of life: this institution contributed to the breakdown of traditional lifestyle, including pedagogy, child rearing, and family structures. The parents in my study describe their personal experiences of colonization and describe how the Secwepemc language, culture, and knowledge were not transmitted to them and their children. The Elders in my study also describe traditional education/training and childrearing practices. My analysis of the interview data shows the deep desire and commitment of Elders to maintain our traditional Secwepemc way of life and the parents’ desire to learn and practice this way of life. The Elders’ knowledge combined with the parents’ ideas of how they want their children educated provides the framework for a Secwepemc education model. This model is based on family learning to ensure language and knowledge is transmitted to future generations. It is a holistic model based on the land. The central construct of this dissertation is the relationship between the restoration of language, culture, identity and decolonization. It shows how restoration of traditional ways requires processes of decolonization. I present decolonization theory by Indigenous scholars. The parents provide decolonization strategies. The strategies of restoring Secwepemc language, culture, identity, and land combined with decolonization strategies will lead to the healing of indivi
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