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School-Based Child Supports for Young Indigenous Women With Children in a Postsecondary Setting

Background Information

Postsecondary education fuels the dreams and hopes of students. Particularly so for Indigenous students pursuing their goals in the post-Truth and Reconciliation Commission world. However, they are also concerned about whether Canadian policymakers and postsecondary institutions will fulfil their commitments. In recent years, young Indigenous women with children have increasingly acknowledged their difficulties in pursuing postsecondary education (Coble, 2019). To secure their success and the welfare of their children, the exceptional needs they face need specialized support systems. However, there are still wide educational gaps among Canada’s First Nations, Métis, and Inuit populations, which causes a large percentage of students to drop out of school at crucial junctures as when switching from grades 6 to 7, 9 to 10, and 12 to postsecondary education. The experiences and perspectives of indigenous students are distinct from those of standard Eurocentric educational models, making it difficult for educational leaders and teachers to support them (Coble, 2019) properly. Indigenous education fundamentally differs from conventional education because it emphasizes “coming to know” rather than adhering to a rigid, linear, and structured methodology. The educational experiences of Indigenous students may be impacted by this disparity in perception and comprehension between Indigenous and Eurocentric worldviews. This study proposal aims to investigate and recommend efficient school-based child support systems for young Indigenous women who are balancing motherhood and postsecondary education.

Research Problem

Young Indigenous women who have children confront particular difficulties in pursuing postsecondary education in Canada, despite efforts to strengthen Indigenous education. Their ability to succeed in school is frequently hampered by a lack of effective child support services and culturally appropriate activities. In order to solve the problems experienced by this specific population, this study proposal aims to identify and recommend efficient child support provided in schools.

Research Questions

What obstacles do young Indigenous women with children confront when pursuing postsecondary education?

How do school-based child support services affect young Indigenous women with children’s academic achievement and retention rates?

What cultural factors must be considered when developing school-based child support programs for Indigenous students?

Literature Review

The existing literature sheds light on school-based child assistance for indigenous women with children in postsecondary settings. In Canada, education is a potent tool for enhancing the lives of Indigenous women. Indigenous groups have historically experienced institutional hurdles to obtaining high-quality education, which has led to lower educational attainment rates when compared to the general population. However, more Indigenous women have recently enrolled in postsecondary schools due to initiatives to rectify these discrepancies. According to Coble (2019), research about exploring aboriginal Student Experiences states that enhancing Indigenous women’s economic opportunities is one of the most important effects of education. Indigenous women who pursue higher education have a better chance of finding secure, well-paying jobs when they enter the workforce. Their families and communities also profit in addition to their gains. Indigenous women who earn more can better support their families by giving them access to better housing, food, and medical care. As role models for younger generations, educated Indigenous women can encourage them to pursue education and end intergenerational poverty. The ability of Indigenous women to effectively engage in decision-making processes both within and outside their communities depends largely on education. Education gives Indigenous women the knowledge and critical thinking abilities to speak up for their rights and address urgent problems like land rights, environmental protection, and cultural preservation. As they assume leadership positions, they offer distinctive viewpoints and answers to the discussion, enhancing it and assisting in creating more inclusive and efficient policies.

Additionally, Coble (2019) states that education significantly influences the revival and maintenance of Indigenous cultures. Indigenous-focused programs and courses are now widely available in Canada’s postsecondary institutions, enabling students to learn more about their heritage, languages, and traditions. These organizations assist Indigenous women in fostering a greater sense of identity and pride in their history by embracing and promoting Indigenous culture inside the educational system. As a result, Indigenous communities’ cultural fabric is strengthened, and traditional knowledge and practices are preserved for future generations. Education has a positive effect on Indigenous women’s health and well-being. People with more education make healthier lifestyle decisions, lowering the prevalence of chronic diseases. With improved access to health information, educated Indigenous women may decide what is best for their and their families health. Additionally, education gives them the tools to fight for better healthcare services and address health inequalities in their local communities.

However, Ottmann (2017), in his research about Canadian Indigenous people’s access to postsecondary education, states that young Indigenous women with children face considerable challenges in enrolling in and completing postsecondary education. These obstacles have been thoroughly investigated and documented, illuminating this particular group’s difficulties. According to Ottmann (2017), one of the main obstacles experienced by Indigenous women with children is financial difficulty. Many people may need the means to pay for postsecondary education, including tuition, books, and living costs. Their ability to pursue education while caring for their children is further hampered by the absence of affordable and accessible childcare choices. Inadequate housing is a problem since having a secure home is essential for doing well in school. Ottmann (2017) found that the isolation faced by Indigenous women with children seeking higher education is exacerbated by their lack of access to social support networks (Ottmann, 2017). Lack of a solid support network can lead to isolation and discouragement, making it challenging to persist in one’s educational endeavours. Another obstacle is the cultural divide that exists among educational institutions. Indigenous students frequently experience Eurocentric educational strategies that need to fit their cultural background and ways of knowing. This can cause disengagement and a sense of not belonging in the student body.

Furthermore, Ottmann (2017) states that the historical setting is vital in determining how Indigenous pupils are educated. The relationships between the Canadian government and Indigenous peoples were formed through the treaties and the Indian Act of 1876, which significantly impacted Indigenous education. Indigenous people were defined and categorized by the Indian Act, resulting in divisions that still exist today. The federal government’s oversight of financing and policy for Indigenous education furthers inequalities in educational possibilities (Ottmann, 2017). For instance, there is an imbalance in the resources available because federal funding for First Nations kids’ elementary and secondary education is significantly lower than provincial financing for non-Indigenous students.

Furthermore, several research has recommended various child support programs to help young indigenous women in postsecondary educational settings. Bird (2021), in his research conducted about postsecondary education for Indigenous, found that it is crucial to emphasize the value of cultural identity programs, especially for postsecondary students who are young Indigenous women and their children. Their cultural identities greatly influence their academic progress, retention in school, and academic engagement. It has been demonstrated that programs that acknowledge and include Indigenous culture, language, and traditions into the curriculum and support services successfully address these people’s particular needs and experiences. Preserving and strengthening cultural identity is crucial since it gives one a sense of pride, self-worth, and belonging. It can be uplifting for young Indigenous women to reconnect with their cultural heritage because they frequently experience numerous forms of marginalization and prejudice. It assists them in developing resilience and navigating any difficulties they could encounter in the postsecondary educational system.

According to Bird (2021), students feel validated when educational institutions embrace and recognize Indigenous traditions, which improves self-esteem and motivates them to do well in school. Educational institutions can establish a learning environment that is both inclusive and culturally sensitive by incorporating Indigenous culture, language, and customs into the curriculum. This strategy advances a more comprehensive understanding of knowledge and improves Indigenous students’ educational opportunities. Indigenous elders and knowledge keepers can actively participate in the educational process by imparting their knowledge and conventional teachings; it also promotes intergenerational learning (Bird, 2021). Additionally, by incorporating cultural identity into support services, Indigenous kids are given access to the tools they need to succeed. The particular difficulties young Indigenous women encounter in their academic pursuits can be addressed through counselling, mentoring, and peer support programs that are culturally appropriate. With the help of these programs, students can share their stories, ask for assistance, and get culturally competent counsel in a secure environment. These initiatives help improve mental health, social connectedness, and eventually higher academic success rates by encouraging a sense of community and support.

Young (2022) states that collaboration and community involvement programs are crucial for Indigenous children’s success in the classroom. In order to meet the special needs and ambitions of young Indigenous women and their children, Indigenous communities and organizations must be involved in the formulation and implementation of child assistance programs. Through collaboration, initiatives that promote a feeling of cultural identity and belonging can be developed that are sustainable and responsive to cultural differences. Young (2022) also contends that community involvement offers chances for intergenerational knowledge transfer, allowing community members and elders to impart their expertise and experiences to younger generations (Young, 2022). In addition to enhancing the educational experience, this knowledge sharing also contributes to preserving Indigenous customs and traditions, which are essential for the resilience and general well-being of Indigenous communities. Another important result of cooperative efforts is the sustainable growth of child support services. Participating actively in program planning and decision-making ensures that efforts align with the community’s long-term needs and objectives. This promotes a sense of ownership and accountability for accomplishing these projects, ensuring their ongoing support and viability.


Research Design

A mixed-methods research design will be used for this study, combining quantitative and qualitative methods. A thorough understanding of the difficulties experienced by young Indigenous women with children and the efficiency of school-based child support programs in a postsecondary setting will be provided via the use of mixed methodologies (Waters et al., 2022). The qualitative data will offer in-depth insights into the experiences and perspectives of the participants, and the quantitative data will provide statistical statistics.


The study will concentrate on young Indigenous women with children enrolled in postsecondary programs in Canada between 18 and 30. To ensure representation from various Indigenous communities and postsecondary institutions nationwide, participants will be chosen by purposive sampling. In order to collect a diverse range of experiences and viewpoints, efforts will be made to include individuals from various cultural backgrounds.

Data Collections

  1. Literature Review: A thorough analysis of scholarly articles, studies, and policy papers about Indigenous women, postsecondary education, and child assistance programs will be used to provide a solid understanding of the subject.
  2. Surveys: A systematic survey will be established to gather quantitative information on the difficulties young Indigenous women with children have in pursuing postsecondary education. The poll will address financial limitations, childcare obligations, availability of support services, and academic difficulties. To reach a bigger audience, the survey will be delivered online.
  3. Interviews: To collect qualitative data, semi-structured interviews will be held with a sample of survey respondents. The participants’ experiences with school-based child support programs, how these programs affected their retention and success rates in school, and their suggestions for improvement will all be included in the interviews (Waters et al., 2022). The interviews will be recorded on audio and then transcribed for examination.

Data Analysis

Quantitative data from the surveys will be evaluated using suitable statistical techniques, such as descriptive statistics and inferential tests, to find patterns and connections between variables. Thematic analysis will find recurrent themes and patterns in qualitative data from interviews and program papers linked to difficulties, impact, and cultural concerns. The conclusions from both data sources will be triangulated to comprehend the research questions fully.


The limitations of this study are inherent, as with all studies. Some such difficulties include:

  1. Limited Generalizability: This study’s findings may only be somewhat transferable to other contexts or populations because it focuses on a particular group of young Indigenous women with children attending postsecondary institutions in Canada.
  2. Gaining participants’ trust and gaining access to Indigenous communities may take time and require regular engagement activities.
  3. Bias and Positionality: The research procedure and data interpretation may be affected by the backgrounds and identities of the researchers. There will be an effort made to enhance reflexivity and overcome any biases.


In conclusion, the importance of school-based child assistance for young Indigenous women with children pursuing postsecondary education in Canada is highlighted by this research project, which comes to a close. Financial limitations, a lack of quality childcare choices, cultural isolation, and deficient support systems are a few of the many complicated problems this particular group of people must face. A thorough investigation of these concerns will be possible because of the planned mixed-methods research approach, which will include quantitative information on the difficulties encountered and qualitative insights into how well school-based child support programs work. The results of this study could influence educational policies and practices in a significant way, resulting in higher academic achievement and retention rates for young Indigenous moms enrolled in postsecondary institutions. This research aims to empower Indigenous women and their children in their educational journeys by identifying and advocating for efficient school-based child support services incorporating cultural factors. In addition, this study tackles a significant problem in the context of Indigenous education and its effects on present and future generations. This study underlines the significance of developing inclusive and culturally responsive educational environments by considering the historical backdrop and the disadvantages Indigenous peoples encounter.


Bird, N. (2021). The Emotional Labour of Indigenous Postsecondary Students: A Trauma-Informed Autoethnography.

Coble, J. (2019). Exploring Aboriginal Student Experiences with Postsecondary Education through Photography and Story (Doctoral dissertation, Doctoral dissertation, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from https://prism. Calgary. ca/handle/1880/110725).

Ottmann, J. (2017). Canada’s indigenous peoples’ access to postsecondary education: The spirit of the ‘new buffalo’. Indigenous pathways, transitions and participation in Higher Education: From policy to practice, 95-117.

Waters, L. B., Pitawanakwat, R., & Dachyshyn, D. (2022). Decolonizing time in postsecondary classrooms. Journal of Concurrent Disorders4(3), 1.

Young, R. (2022). ” Know When to Hold’em, Know When to Fold’em”: Navigating the more-than-dual roles of Indigenous leadership in postsecondary colonial institutions (Doctoral dissertation).


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