Paddling towards resilience : benefits of canoeing for vulnerable First Nations children
Skwarok, James Nicholas
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This phenomenological study investigated the benefits of a weekly canoe program for vulnerable Grade 5 First Nations students at an elementary school in Victoria, BC. The experience of student and adult participants was explored with a focus on how perceived benefits related to protective factors of resilience. This study builds on research of impacts of outdoor adventure-based, wilderness therapy, recreational, experiential, and environmental education programs. Interviews were conducted with 11 students, and 13 adults, including an Elder, the principal, school staff, parents, and volunteers. This research indicates the canoe program enhanced student's inner resources, such as self-efficacy, self-esteem and mental and physical health, and outer resources, such as connections to peers, community resources, culture, school and nature. Through many interconnections between these resources, the canoe program helped address students' vulnerability, promote their resilience and reconnect them to their traditional waterway. Future research and program recommendations are presented.
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