During my work on my master’s thesis proposal for Educ 799, I drafted this informal but detailed Participatory Action Research (PAR) proposal in preparation for a meeting with a potential community partner, the Galiano Conservancy Association (GCA), on Feb. 25, 2019. This artifact is a draft of a multi-stage mixed methods project that includes a work-in-progress title, research questions, research design, and strategies for data collection, analyses and interpretation, as expressed through a timeline and budget. It is a snapshot in time that represents six months of work exploring the possibility of co-writing a PAR funding application for the Vancouver Foundation’s Convene grant, one that reveals my understanding of the complex and collaborative nature of PAR projects.
This artifact embodies the PAR approach with its explicit focus on creating social change and increasing the democratization of knowledge production through involving community members throughout the research process (Stoecker, 1999). PAR is a research methodology that aligns closely with my interest in co-constructed meaning-making within my relativist ontological position and criticalist theoretical perspectives (Mayan, 2009). This artifact reveals my progress in exploring how to meet the goals of my academic program and secure funding not only to ensure my own financial sustainability, but to offer my potential PAR co-researchers and research participants resources to meet their own goals, in addition to the compensation other research approaches might offer only for their time and expertise as subjects or respondents.
While Stoecker may believe that to be a PAR researcher I only need to make myself relevant (1999), I believe that only Indigenous learners have the right to speak on their own behalf, which is why in this artifact I suggested this project be structured so that learners, caretakers, educators and knowledge keepers each have their own Circles, and through the use of choosing their own pseudonyms, their own voice (Graveline, 2000). The references to prior conversations with First Nations knowledge-keepers, students and family members, as well as the question marks throughout it are evidence of my commitment to “co-generative dialogue” (Fear & Edwards, 2005) as these identify topics of discussion with my potential partners, instead of decisions I made without them.
The synthesis of contacts and contexts woven together in this document reveals my growing understanding of how a PAR researcher can bring together abstract understanding with insider knowledge that is specific to a particular setting (Gaventa, 1993). Upon learning that a majority of our First Nations students were not expected to sign up for the annual grade seven camping trip because they ‘never do,’ my goal was to co-design and fund a field trip in which all of our students would be comfortable participating in.
The draft budget in this document as well as the notes on who could be involved and what kind of timeline would be required shows exactly how I planned to be able to address a variety of potential barriers to not only the involvement of my students and their local community, but my commitment to community control of a project that could benefit them directly. For example, by including taxi vouchers in the budget lines for transportation, I demonstrated my knowledge of the nuanced needs of particular partners, such as an Elder who had recently lost his leg and who therefor had different needs than mothers who need bus tickets to bring their stroller-bound families with them to participate. By budgeting for equal and generous honoraria for all potential participants, I embodied Ponterotto’s “emancipation and transformation” of Indigenous communities (2005, p.129).
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