What connects you to your Aboriginal culture in the city?

So after a long hiatus these last 15 months, after many fortunate and unfortunate events, I am finally back at it. I had really hoped to have one unsettled area of my life settled so that I could better focus on my writing, but just as my life always is – alas, it wasn’t meant to be. For the next several weeks I am working on my dissertation. I’ve spent the last several days, and really time on and off the last couple months, re-acquainting myself to NVivo and my transcripts. I’m currently working on finishing writing up the last 30% of my findings, I’ve already done the bulk of the work (70%) but have several areas that need to be completed. I’ve been working on one specific question the last couple days: what connects you to your Aboriginal culture in the city? I’ve been writing about that for the last five years of my work both in the federal government, within my research and really just thinking about it because it’s a part of my life. You would not believe the power of the words of the people that I talked to within my research. They warm my heart, they ground me, they connect me. People think that doing research is so alienating, that it’s so distant from being directly connected to our people. You know what? This is storytelling at its absolute best and finest. My job as a humble researcher, as a storyteller, is to share their words with the world that can do it just a little bit of justice and I feel unworthy of it.

How I’ve missed this. Just to give you a small, little taste of my privilege, I’m going to share one quote that really hit me today, it really struck home to the Indigenous experience today to Indigeneity to Aboriginality (love those words), I hope you enjoy them and understand them:

I grew up in Ottawa, in the sense that I came as I was transitioning from youth to young adult, so as I’ve learnt here that the life stages teachings are much for young adults for taking up the work of the people. The great thing about taking up the work of the people and serving in this age is that you learn more about yourself: how you like to take up the work; what you don’t like taking up the work. [Laughs] So you grow a lot that way by doing service to the community (Female research participant).

We grow and we learn in service to our community, I’ve been in service my whole life and always will be.

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Writing, Thesis Writing Seminar and a Move to Vancouver

I reviewed and finalized all of my research transcripts last summer and coded and themed all of my 30 interviews in NVivo. Highlights of my research also include sitting down and meeting with my co-supervisor in the summer we had a great discussion and he really helped me move forward in my thinking about how I will be approaching my writing, the theory and using self-reflexivity.

Since September 2012 I’ve been in my Thesis Writing Seminar at Carleton which is two semesters and I look forward to finishing that up in April 2013. I should say that in late November I took up a position at a post-secondary educational institute back in Vancouver, British Columbia. This has presented some challenges in moving forward with my dissertation, but having the Thesis Writing Seminar has helped bring me back to writing and thinking about the order of my dissertation, making sense of my findings and writing them in a logical manner. This has been the most difficult task with writing is keeping in mind our research questions, clearly linking them to our findings, using narrative and theory to structure the entire document.

Every time I get back in touch with my dissertation and re-read my interviews and collect quotes from my interviews I’m always taken aback at how emotive, rich, thought provoking my interviews are because of the participants that shared their thoughts, experiences, beliefs and often with questions that aren’t easy to answer.

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Thesis Project Chapter Four: Analyzing and Writing Up Findings

I’m amazed I’m actually just shy of 1/3 done my coding but there’s still so much to do, it’s been a crash course in NVivo 9 since I used Nvivo 7 five years for my MA. It’s so cool getting back in touch and literally reliving those interviews, and this is through written word. I can’t imagine how powerful it will be to gather some of the video together and hear some of these beautiful amazing insights through spoken word – oral tradition.

Major low lights of the week: 1) I literally had a moment earlier today, thinking I had coded things wrong. It forced me to reconnect with the steps of grounded theory and I was relieved to know I was actually doing things right, and right where I needed to be; 2) the Microsoft SQL data something or another stopped working in NVivo, and for two painful hours I thought I lost my entire NVivo project (set up of codes, 3 or 4 coded interviews) I managed to find a solution online – and it actually worked! You other researchers out there would understand how horrible this feels. I was literally almost crying at my computer. It’s all funny now, but at that moment it was devastating.

Major highlights: of course, finally finalizing 30 interview transcripts and sending these transcripts to each and every person that participated in the interviews to review and comment on (removed any sections they wanted to). I’m glad I did this, it makes me feel better to be an Aboriginal researcher and make sure participants are involved and that they are comfortable with what they said. Other highlights were setting up my codes, starting to code. Also being at the library at the University really makes me feel a part of the academic community – I missed the university. Also having the opportunity to connect with my cohort which was great. We’ve all been out doing our separate fieldwork so this opportunity makes me feel much more in touch. Fieldwork and academic life can be really individual and lonely sometimes (read 10 hour days all alone working at the library or your office or at home)!

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