Outward bound Giwaykiwin: wilderness-based Indigenous education
Lowan, Gregory E.
Master of Education
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This study takes a critical approach to Outward Bound Canada's Giwaykiwin program through a lens of decolonizing Indigenous education. The worldwide organization of Outward Bound, and assumptions about the universal benefits of expeditionary adventure education, are also critiqued. Former Outward Bound staff and students involved with the Giwaykiwin program were engaged in a collaborative interview process. The study Was also informed by the author's own experiences as an instructor with the program. Five main themes and 6 key recommendations emerged. The main themes relate to program design and philosophy, participants' experiences with cultural aspects of their courses, diversity, cross-cultural relationships, the involvement of Elders, instructor training and development, and participants' experiences with the collaborative research process. The resulting recommendations include: recognizing the diversity of contemporary Aboriginal youth, increasing Elders' and community members' involvement, recognizing the complex cultural dynamics of Giwaykiwin courses, increasing Aboriginal instructor development, and non-Aboriginal staff's cultural awareness training. Overall, the findings of this study suggest that, in order to satisfy contemporary models of decolonization, Outward Bound Canada's Giwaykiwin program should take a more localized approach, grounding their courses philosophically and practically in the traditions of the specific Aboriginal communities with whom they work. The significance of this research is that it will give Outward Bound Canada insight into the design and delivery of the Giwaykiwin program. It will also add to the limited body of literature in this area and offer insight for other organizations considering a land-based approach to working with Indigenous youth.