Students who stopped out : the lived experience of Indigenous students in West-Central Alberta who temporarily or permanently discontinued their post-secondary education journey
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Subjectdecolonization; Indigenous; lived-experience; persistence; post-secondary education; stop out
Indigenous people in Canada have lower post-secondary attainment rates than their non-Indigenous counterparts, but these statistics do not explain why. This study examines the barriers to post-secondary completion for Indigenous students by gathering stories from learners who temporarily or permanently discontinued their educational journey. This research employs a Critical Race theoretical framework to examine personal, institutional, and societal factors that impacted participants’ educational experience. A narrative inquiry methodology using storywork through conversations gathered stories from eight Indigenous learners residing in west-central Alberta. Common themes emerged from the inductive analysis of the conversation transcripts. Many findings are consistent with previous research, such as leaving for employment or family obligations. However, their stories offer a richer, more profound understanding of factors that influence their decision to quit school. Findings included the desire to stay in their home community during and following post-secondary education, the unique financial challenges for non-status and part-time Indigenous students, and colonization's ongoing role in their educational journey. Creating cultural safety and ethical space for respectful and honest conversations with Indigenous students, their families, and community leaders is essential to hear and respond to their challenges and needs and work collaboratively to create meaningful and accessible education for Indigenous people.
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