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The Role of the Rural Principal in Fostering Indigenous Parent-School Relationships: Examples from the Yukon

Souhail R Soujah, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The achievement gap between Indigenous and Non-indigenous students across Canada continuous to widen. Although significant achievements have been accomplished, the gains by Non-indigenous students continue to outpace that of Indigenous children. A significant factor affecting student learning is parent engagement in the school. This study aimed to examine the relationship between Indigenous parents living in rural communities in the Yukon and the schools. The study made use of mixed methods research models to investigate school participation and engagement, more specifically to what extent are Indigenous parents connected with the school given the strategies and interventions employed by administrators to reach out to them. A survey was utilized to gather information on frequency of participation and level of engagement. Follow up conversations with parents sought out emergent themes that defined their connection to the schools. The involvement of Indigenous parents in school is dependent upon the strength of the relationships between the school and the community. Given the historic legacy of trauma from Indian Residential Schools, trust is a key commodity in negotiating this engagement. First Nations parents although traditionally reluctant to engage in a system that has historically oppressed them, were willing participants in an approach that honored their values and was supportive of their needs as a culture, one that placed substantial emphasis on building relationships. In the path to reconciliation, further research is required to identify the impact of Residential School trauma on young Indigenous parents removed several generations from this historical event. Moreover, it would be of great value to the educational system to have a deeper understanding of how generational trauma affects the relationship with Indigenous parents entering the school system for the first time. Elementary schools are the first step in an often tumultuous and unpredictable path to graduation. A greater body of understanding in the developmental stages of education would be key in socializing Indigenous parents to become active participants in the educational process.

Subject Area

Educational leadership|Educational administration|Native American studies

Recommended Citation

Soujah, Souhail R, "The Role of the Rural Principal in Fostering Indigenous Parent-School Relationships: Examples from the Yukon" (2020). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI28025459.