Urban Aboriginal Student Experience in Post-Secondary Education: Are Institutions and Support Systems Successful in Meeting their Needs?

Research Start-up Summary and Abstract:

Are there adequate services in Fredericton, New Brunswick to help urban Aboriginal people pursue a post-secondary education, both before they enter a program and during the program itself? What services exist to help them access information about what programs and funding opportunities are available? Are post-secondary institutions facilitating adequate access to information both before and during programs, and do they offer support for students to help them meet THEIR definitions of success? In asking urban Aboriginal students and former students about their experiences, we can facilitate an exploration that will lead to recommendations for action for best practices in providing support for post-secondary educational opportunities and success.

The proposed research is aligned with the UAKN research theme of human development. This research project will explore the needs of the urban Aboriginal population within Fredericton, New Brunswick, regarding post-secondary education information, access, and supports. The focus group data and recommendations for action, will be generated by the community, from the community and for the community.  These same recommendations for action will be taken to key stalk holders and support providers within post-secondary institutions so that better practices can lead to better outcomes for urban Aboriginal people.

The research findings will be shared with all local post-secondary institutions, urban Aboriginal organizations and relevant government departments, in the interests of supporting best practices and better outcomes. The final report will then be submitted by the UAKN Atlantic to the UAKN Secretariat and posted on the UAKN website. Research findings will remain the property of Under One Sky Friendship Center, as the community organization driving the research.  Under One Sky Friendship Centre will determine when it is appropriate for the research to be shared, how it is being shared, and who will present it


This research project is in line with the UAKN guiding ethical principles as it is a community-driven project being led by a community organization, Under One Sky Friendship Centre. The research team will use participatory action based approaches in the 3 key focus groups being conducted in the fall.  These focus groups will lead to recommendations for actions, stemming from community articulated need, that inform post-secondary institutions and support providers.  Participants will identify what their needs are and what would best meet their needs in pursuing a post-secondary education. They will define success and what it looks like to them, what a post-secondary education means to them, and what they wish these institutions knew about Aboriginal people.  The focus groups will be made up of urban Aboriginal students and former students, those who completed programs and those who did not, and will be held at Under One Sky Friendship Centre.

Collaborating Friendship Centre and/or other urban Aboriginal organization:

Under One Sky Friendship Centre

Main contact:

William McIver Jr Ph.D., NSERC Industrial Research Chair, New Brunswick Community College (Academic Lead)

Patsy McKinney, Executive Director, Under One Sky Friendship Centre (Community Lead)

Anthea Plummer, Project and Funding Director, Under One Sky Friendship Centre (Under One Sky Friendship Centre Researcher/Principal Investigator)

Lisa Jodoin, PhD Student, University of New Brunswick (Emerging Urban Aboriginal Scholar)

Chelsea Paul-Griffith, Community Member (Research Assistant)

Miigam’agan, Elder in Residence, St. Thomas University (Elder)

Josephine Savarese Ph.D., Professor, St. Thomas University (Partner)

Suzanne Hindmarch Ph.D., Assistant Professor, University of New Brunswick

Research Centre