This paper describes how an Ontario school board's majority First Nation, Metís and Inuit (FNMI) student population influenced the direction and priorities of the board toward culturally responsive and well-being focused initiatives. Using culturally sustaining/revitalizing pedagogy (CSRP) as a conceptual framework, it explores the board's efforts to meet the socioemotional and identity needs of its FNMI students (and families) through investments in professional learning communities (PLCs) and targeted programming and technologies.
This paper presents findings from one case in a larger multi-year (2015–2017), multiple-case (10 school boards) study by a university research team that included the author. Thematic analysis was used to code interviews and focus groups conducted with over 40 administrators, educators and community partners in the board featured in this paper.
The board's culturally responsive and well-being focused initiatives, while intended to support FNMI students' socioemotional success and sense of inclusiveness in schools, was inadequate at fostering and sustaining students' (and families') cultural survival and communal well-being.
Findings offer practical ways that schools serving large populations of FNMI students might support students' identity development and self-regulation skills in schools while also serving as a cautionary example of strategies that do not sufficiently address student challenges that are the result of ongoing legacies of colonization.
This study provides a distinctive example of a predominantly FNMI school board that, in recent years, has prioritized student well-being and identity development over achievement. It provides insight into the transformative possibilities and constraints of trying to support FNMI students' socioemotional healing and cultural sustenance in a colonized system.
Washington, S.A. (2021), "Sustaining Indigenous students' and families' well-being and culture in an Ontario school board", Journal of Professional Capital and Community, Vol. 6 No. 3, pp. 237-252. https://doi.org/10.1108/JPCC-06-2020-0049
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