A Narrative Inquiry into the Experiences of Indigenous High School Students Enrolled within a Youth Leadership Pathway

Researchers: Brian Lewis, Michael Dubnewick, Tamara Ryba, Brett Kannenberg, Tristan Hopper, Sean Lessard and Joseph Naytowhow.
July 2022

When we began this work, we held wonders of how Indigenous youth composed their identities and sustained their lives on school landscapes. For some on our research team they had lived alongside the Indigenous youth who became part of our research for several years as teachers (Brian Lewis, Tamara Ryba, Brett Kannenberg). For others on our research team, they came from university places (Michael Dubnewick, Tristan Hopper, Sean Lessard) and had just begun to step into the midst of the Scott Collegiate school landscape, the leadership pathway, Growing Young Movers (GYM), and the lives of the Indigenous youth that they eventually came to know. Our research team primarily consisted of non-Indigenous researchers (which included Brian Lewis, Tamara Ryba, Brett Kannenberg, Michael Dubnewick, and Tristan Hopper). 

Knowing how we were positioned as settler scholars and practitioners, we each considered how we were becoming more attentive to Indigenous youth. Part of that meant drawing on our pre-existing relations with Sean Lessard, who is an Indigenous scholar from Montreal Lake Cree Nation. Another part was working alongside the long-time friend, guide, and Knowledge Keeper Joseph Naytowhow. In short, Joseph acted as a guide for many members on our research team as we came to understand our interactions and responsibilities with the young people we engaged with. 

As a community of researchers, we each came to this work wanting to better understand and attend to the experiences of the Indigenous youth who were part of the leadership pathway in ways where we could wonder less about how to fit the youth within the school landscape and more towards how we could imagine the school landscape better fitting and attending to the lives of the youth. Given that the leadership pathway at Scott Collegiate was intentionally created in ways to reimagine how schools could be structured, our work and time alongside the youth allowed us to better understand if this pathway was experienced as educative and respectful to the lives of the youth. Or stated differently, was the leadership pathway working for the youth? Was it respectful and relevant within their ongoing life-making?