Teaching and Learning: Co-creation with Good Relations – Part 2

A Co-Delivery Framework Created with Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Che:k:tles7et’h’ First Nations

To honour the relational nature of this work, I express sincere gratitude to the Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Che:k:tles7et’h’ First Nations for hosting me on their territory and allowing the Co-Delivery Framework to emerge from their voices, knowledges, history, peoples, and lands.

Post by BCcampus Research Fellow Heather Burke, Vancouver Island University (VIU)

About the Framework and Guidelines for Use

The Co-Delivery Framework is grounded in a community story owned by the Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Che:k:tles7et’h’ First Nations and began with the in-community delivery of a trades sampler program in partnership with North Island College in 2019. The North Island College program was followed by Vancouver Island University’s (VIU) Construction Foundations program, delivered in Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Che:k:tles7et’h’ during one of the most intense periods of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The Co-Delivery Framework is a visual representation of some of the threads of the narrative, weaving together the lives and work of individuals with the program support team as well as the learners and their partners, including a VIU Construction Foundations graduate who signed on as a research collaborator in early 2022 to lend personal experience and positionality and help shape the Framework in its early stages.

In the spirit of learning and improving access to education for Indigenous youth in their communities, the Co-Delivery Framework is a starting place for Indigenous communities and partners that plan to co-deliver educational programming. The framework must not be used for commercial purposes. Its use carries a responsibility to respect, acknowledge, and thank the Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Che:k:tles7et’h’ First Nations and reciprocate with relevance and within the context of authentic relationships developing over time. This blog provides additional context to the Co-Delivery Framework by discussing the themes (Learners, Family and Community, Elders and Protocol, Support Team, Staying Home, Teaching, and Funding) that came from interviews with five members of the team who implemented the VIU Aboriginal Construction Foundations program and others adjacent to the work.

With a foundation of co-creation principles, educational program development and delivery often results in deepening good relations, which can ripple out to learners. Good relations and preparation among everyone involved in program development, delivery, and learner support result not only in high program graduation rates but also reciprocal and transformative learning and growth. Seven of eight learners graduated with a Construction Certificate from VIU.

Elders asked learners in the VIU Construction Foundations program to rebuild the Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Che:k:tles7et’h’ Big House as their capstone project. The Big House was burned to the ground by colonizers during the last century, and “the youth want[ed]to build it again for the Elders with their families right beside them” (Marissa Bennett, ABCO Kyuquot Project Meeting, October 29, 2020). On finding current infrastructure in the community would not support the Big House, the learners instead built a smokehouse that continues to give back to the community today. In the spirit of reciprocity, a tangible artifact that represents the teachings naturally emerged from the program’s delivery that can be used for future deliveries in Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Che:k:tles7et’h’ or other Indigenous communities.

University programs delivered in Indigenous communities resist centralized and colonial education models and respond to the needs and dreams of Indigenous youth in alignment with the aspirations of the community. When VIU delivered its Construction Foundations program in Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Che:k:tles7et’h’, the instructor was asked to leave home and align curricula and teaching methods with local protocols, processes, and practices while engaging in reciprocal learning with community members and students. The learners stayed connected to existing support systems and their local histories, lands, knowledges, and ways of being and doing at home and as a result started their learning journey from a place of strength. Family and community members were able to witness the work as it was happening and ask questions, share stories, and add teachings. This continued thread of connection added relevance and applicability to the students’ learning. For example, three of the learners who graduated from the program now work in their community, which reduces the need to hire outside the community, saves costs, and improves the overall quality of their work.  

Funding for educational programming delivered in communities is piecemeal and typically offered through government and/or industry grants focused on employment readiness awarded through a request for proposal process. Sustainable funding for curriculum co-development and wraparound support for learners is needed in addition to implementation dollars. The Co-Delivery Framework articulates some of the activities not typically supported through government grants that were crucial to the success of this program delivery, such as building a learner support team. Additionally, funding for administration and reporting is needed so these duties don’t fall on communities already operating at full capacity. Good relations are central to program delivery, and there are currently no funding models to support the intangibles involved in relationship building, such as sharing food, being on the land together, and listening to community stories.

The Co-Delivery Framework is important because it can be used as a starting place for Indigenous communities and their partners to develop and deliver education programs together. The framework is not intended to be used as a step-by-step formula; instead it seeks to support partners working together to disrupt routine educational and colonial norms to make way for decolonial educational models unique to each partnership. The Co-Delivery Framework articulates a few of the promising practices that emerged from relationships developed during the VIU Construction Foundations program delivery in Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Che:k:tles7et’h’ First Nations. The purpose of this framework is to identify and share this information for future co-delivery of relational land-based learning programs for others to build on within their own relational and regional contexts.

This research is supported by the BCcampus Research Fellows Program, which provides B.C. post-secondary educators and students with funding to conduct small-scale research on teaching and learning as well as to explore evidence-based teaching practices that focus on student success and learning. 

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© 2022 Heather Burke released under a CC BY license

The featured image for this post (viewable in the BCcampus News section at the bottom of our homepage) is by Rhys Abel from Pexels