Beyond inclusion: Transforming the educational governance relationship between First Nations and school districts in British Columbia

Robbie Byron
Faculty of Education, Simon Fraser University
July, 2005
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Abstract

The dissertation is a philosophical and historical investigation of the political and ethical relationships between cultures as they attempt to develop just governance practices in post-colonial educational institutions. It is grounded in 30 years of personal experience and professional practice as an educator in British Columbia. The development of a Community Healing Circle process is initially described as a co-constructed means for the sharing of responsibility for First Nations students in their educational experiences. The Circle is placed within the context of a history of First Nations people of the Cariboo-Chilcotin, primarily after contact with Euro-Canadian society, followed by a consideration of relevant philosophic thought. Charles Taylor's ideas on the politics of recognition, and its relation to identity, forms the theoretical location upon which the dissertation is based. Taylor's 'modern social imaginaries' provides a way of conceptualizing the interaction between Euro-Canadian and First Nations views of today's world. In this way, the forms of difference between 'others' are explored and articulated so the richness of difference can be fully acknowledged.
Beyond the investigation of the significant cultural differences and communicative challenges, the dissertation also identifies the ground upon which ethical communication and the building of community capacity can take place. James Tully's work on a 'common ground,' Nancy Fraser's ideas about claims for recognition and redistribution, J├╝rgen Habermas' thinking about communicative ethics, and Seyla Benhabib's writings about diversity in the global era, are all interwoven into the fabric of the discussion. Finally, the study returns to a consideration of the Community Healing Circle as a forum in which different cultural partners can engage and contend with each other over substantive educational issues. In the conclusion there are suggestions about how we might proceed to transform the educational governance relationship between First Nations and the dominant polity, creating a more just form.