Arctic Yearbook 2014 - Page 178

178 Arctic Yearbook 2014 learn and grow, they are not separated from their culture and communities. Instead the student experience of post-secondary education was integrated with culture and community which increased their understanding and connection to traditions and culture. Including courses on Aboriginal history, governance systems and culure has contributed to students feelings of being valued and important and in the end this contributes to increasing their self-esteem. This is important as Anonson et al. (2008) describe how Aboriginal students often have deficites in one or more of Maslow’s five hierarchy of needs: physiological, safety, love, belonging and esteem (279). The findings also underline the importance of peer and faculty support which contributes to feelings of safety, belonging and esteem. The students interviewed described how both their peers and their instructors gave them a lot of advice and moral support. Hull (2009) cites that “students had more success in friendly and cooperative post-secondary environments” (59). Each of the programs that these students are a part of are small hence most often everyone knows everyone and their families. This point reflects what Ball (2004) describes as a “community of learners” approach to community based programming that evolves as the students, their families and community are made a part of the whole academic and social environment. Students also discussed the realization that they were now role models for their children, families and communities. Some have been able to inspire new generations as most of them are first generation post-secondary students and consequently this impacts future generations. As Pidgeon (2008) asserts, “Aboriginal students do not necessarily have cultural capital of prior family experience with higher education so their knowledge of negotiation is very different from a student whose parents are university educated and are able to translate that form of capital to their children” (345). Pidgeon (2008) goes on to link cultural integrity with the formation of cultural capital. An example of cultural integrity would be when programs take into consideration the importance of intergenerational aspects of retention that recognizes the role of family and community in supporting the success of Aboriginal students (351). Students appreciated the proximity to home of the programs they were enrolled in. A survey of former applicants for post-secondary funding from a First Nation community was conducted to examine post-secondary completion rates (Hull, 2009). There were a number of factors cited that overlap with our findings. In terms of proximity to home, the survey showed, “those who attended programs located on or near the reserve had a higher completion rate (64%) than those who attended away from the reserve (46%)” (32). In the case of the University of Saskatchewan’s community-based northern (Prince Albert) nursing program, they found that the retention rates of Aboriginal students was 13% greater than the provincial norm (Anonson et al. 2008: 1). It has been recognized that it is often important when attracting students into post-secondary education from remote communities, to provide the option of taking the program to the student (Cappon, 2008: 65; Holmes, 2006: 30). Providing the opportunity for students to complete a post-secondary degree in a northern location was described by our students as a key factor in their success. Simpkins & Bonnycastle