Arctic Yearbook 2014
located on the territory of the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation (Thompson Economic Diversification
Working Group, 2012).
At the UCN in 2010-11, 74% of graduates identified as Aboriginal and approximately 80% of
students in the Faculty of Arts are female (UCN, 2012). Similarly within the UM-NSWP 87% of
students are female and the majority identify as Aboriginal (Bonnycastle, 2013). Typical challenges
for northern female students are often the lack of consistent child-care, affordable housing, as well
as emotional, academic and financial supports (Bonnycastle & Prentice, 2011). They are also typically
first generation post-secondary students with few educational role models.
Our research study responds to questions: how do female students define and measure their own
successes? And what factors have contributed to their successes? We interviewed 27 post-secondary
female students who were either in their third or fourth year of study or had graduated from a
degree program at NSWP or UCN. All participants were volunteers and completed informed
consent forms. We used qualitative methods and data was collected through one-on-one semistructured interviews, which used appreciative questions. Appreciative questions attempt to explore
the participants’ best experiences (Cooperrider & Whitney, 2000). Approval for this research study
was obtained from the University of Manitoba, Psychology/Sociology Research Ethics Board and
UCN Ethics Board.
How do northern female students describe the meaning of success?
Simpkins & Bonnycastle