Renegotiating Family-School Relationships Among Indigenous Peoples in Southern Ontario
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Academic success in public schools is facilitated by strong bonds between families and schools, including a shared sense of purpose and mutual trust and understanding (Lareau, 1987, 2000, 2002, 2011; Lareau and Weininger, 2003; Fan, 2001; Barnard, 2004; Sheldon and Epstein, 2005; Englund, Luckner, Whaley, and Egeland, 2004). However, for Indigenous peoples these relationships are often broken, undermined by the legacy of residential schooling and assimilative educational practices, as well as by structural barriers to participation. This thesis argues that the examination of family-school relationships is crucial to understanding educational achievement gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians. Using social and cultural capital theory this thesis examines the dynamics of educational inequality associated with Indigenous family-school relationships to understand family and school-based mechanisms that are seen to limit or encourage Indigenous student achievement. Drawing on interviews with 218 Indigenous (mainly Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabe, and Métis) and non-Indigenous parents and educators, this research asks two questions. First, what encourages or limits meaningful home-school connections between Indigenous peoples and schools in southern Ontario? Second, how are these connections seen to influence educational achievement among Indigenous students? This thesis will consider how, potentially, legacies of discriminatory educational practices and social class may be seen as contributing to differences between Indigenous and non-Indigenous family-school relationships, as well as differences in educational experiences and outcomes.