A new Indigenous youth-centred research project is underway at GYM.
The study, entitled “Narrative Inquiry into the Experiences of Indigenous High School Students Enrolled within a Youth Leadership Pathway”, focuses on exploring the experiences of Indigenous youth leaders who are involved in the Youth Leadership Pathway and GYM after-school programming. The primary objective is to examine, in a holistic sense, the way these Indigenous youth leaders compose their lives and view the world as participants in the program.
The project seeks to address the gap in literature surrounding education, leadership and Indigenous youth-focused research. This will in turn support continued governmental and non-governmental organizations in responding to the Truth and Reconciliation of Canada Calls to Action.
Brian Lewis, Executive Director of GYM, says this research is set apart from other studies in the field as it is propelled by youth voices.
“At times, we in positions of leadership feel we have the answers or can come up with a plan, yet we rarely include youth within these decisions,” says Lewis. “We are doing this research to allow the youth to share what they know and what they experience hoping that this will open the door for further conversation.”
The project is funded by the McDowell Foundation, the Government of Saskatchewan - First Nations and Métis Relations Engagement Projects Grant, and The Mosaic Company. It will run from September 2020 to fall 2021. This study is supplemental to an earlier GYM research project that is focused on behavioural changes in the youth involved with the program.
Lewis says the COVID-19 pandemic creates an increased need to understand these areas.
"The pandemic has accentuated the gap that exists in our society so this research I feel is even more important [than before the pandemic],” says Lewis. “We need to look at new ways to do school for youth and think outside of the box when it comes to graduation rates and employment of Indigenous populations.”
Lewis says, most importantly, the youth need to be heard.
“As this initiative is centred on the youth, we want to ensure they drive this work,” says Lewis. “We are positioning these mentors not in deficit, rather from a position of strength.”