Date of Conferral







Leslie VanGelder


While the voices of Indigenous youth in other parts of the world have been sought out, no studies have specifically focused on the educational experiences of urban Indigenous youth in Canada. This phenomenological study explores the lived experiences of youth-adult relationships among Indigenous youth attending urban high schools in Western Canada. The study was approached from a postcolonial perspective aligning with Native Theory. This position is grounded on the premise that the experiences and stories of participants reveal their lived realities. Indigenous youth, 18 to 21, were recruited through targeted information sessions and word of mouth. Over 30 youth expressed interest in the study, but only five participated. Following traditional Indigenous protocols in alignment with Indigenous Research Methodologies, individual face to face interviews were conducted using the Responsive Interview Model. The verbatim transcripts were coded using pre-determined categories, as well as emerging In Vivo categories. The resulting themes were used to construct a collaborative story presenting the participants’ experiences as a single story. The study reveals that Indigenous youth desire youth-adult relationships based on mutual respect, where adults and youth are equal partners. There is a desire for supports when faced with academic and social concerns. Some individuals experienced internal conflict due to the continued colonialistic nature of Whitestream education. This study contributes to positive social change in that when educators and educational leaders know the lived experiences of Indigenous youth within urban Whitestream schools, they can create educational environments better suited to the unique needs of urban Indigenous youth.