Friday, September 26, 2014

Canadian Aboriginal Professionals’ Accounts of Success: Stories of Strength and Resilience

Chez-Roy Birchwood, Fielding's School of Psychology

A growing number Aboriginal Canadians obtain successful professional careers, despite multilevel psychological, economic, social, and political challenges. This study utilizes a qualitative narrative approach to examine how Aboriginal professionals understand their professional development in the context of socioeconomic obstacles and related psychological difficulties. Twelve Aboriginal Professionals between the ages of 32 and 55 were interviewed. The results indicated that the sample of participants had similar socioeconomic challenges to other Aboriginal Canadians and revealed 11 other themes associated with overcoming obstacles to professional accomplishment. These themes are as follows: Responding to Racism; Resolving Aboriginal Identity Struggles; Family Support; Spiritual Life; Specialized Educational Access and Support Programs; Psychological Insight and Therapy; Adjustment to Transiency and Relocations; Recesses, Retreats, and Timeouts; Finding a Voice; Perseverance and Determination; and Professional Pursuits in the Contexts of Personal Development and Community Engagement. Each theme had discrete utility in accounting for professional successes, however there were points of overlap between themes. The themes were then organized around four transformative elements and presented on an Aboriginal Medicine Wheel.

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