Maria Torres Ruiz | ALES Graduate Seminar

Date(s) - 17/01/2020
9:00 am - 10:00 am
3-02 University Terrace, University of Alberta, Edmonton, 3-02 University Terrace, Edmonton AB

Event Details: A graduate exam seminar is a presentation of the student’s final research project for their degree.

This is an ALES MSc Final Exam Seminar by Maria Torres Ruiz. This seminar is open to the general public to attend.

Thesis Topic: First Nations children’s experiences of a culture-based peer-mentoring program using photovoice.

Seminar Abstract:
The Aboriginal/Indigenous Youth Mentorship Program (A/IYMP) is an after-school, peer-led, culturally framed intervention grounded in the teachings of Indigenous scholars Dr. Brokenleg (Circle of Courage) and Dr. Verna Kirkness (Four R’s Model). A/IYMP is a strengths-based intervention that aims to prevent type 2 diabetes in Indigenous children in Canada. The program is typically run as a 90-minute session that is offered once a week in the school community, and it provides elementary school students (mentees) with healthy snacks, physical activity, and relationship-building activities. High-school students (mentors), from the same community, plan and deliver the program to mentees while supported by a Young Adult Health Leader (YAHL).

Mentees’ experiences in the program are of primary significance and can be used to evaluate the program’s overall impact. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to describe mentees’ experiences in A/IYMP as a way of evaluating the impact that the program was having on their lives.

This study used a qualitative community-based participatory research design and photovoice as the main data-generating strategy. Two First Nations communities implementing the program in central Alberta participated in the study. Mentees received a disposable camera to capture their experiences at the program. The photographs were then used in one-on-one semi-structured interviews to stimulate conversation. In total, nineteen interviews were completed with mentees. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using latent content analysis. Community members were engaged in the data interpretation process.

From the nineteen interviews conducted, one overarching theme, enjoyment of the program, was described. In addition, other three main themes emerged: (1) building and strengthening relationships within the program, (2) instilling values and traditions of the program, and (3) working towards a healthy lifestyle. Overall, mentees considered the program to be fun, and it helped them to build and strengthen relationships mentors, family members, friends, and YAHLs. It also gave them the opportunity to exercise values and community traditions within the program such as respect and altruism. Finally, mentees described that through A/IYMP they were able to invest time in their physical health by means of playing games and eating healthy snacks.

The development of a photobook as an arts-based knowledge translation (ABKT) product for the research findings is described. The photobook included at least one photograph from each mentee that received a camera. Some of the challenges that were experienced in creating the photobook, such as the use of photographs of people, including children, are described. The intention is to distribute the photobook to mentees, A/IYMP staff, and other community members.

In conclusion, mentees’ experiences of A/IYMP provided relevant feedback about the program’s impact on their lives. Findings can be used by both community schools to further improve and to promote the program within their communities. We aspire to ripple the program to a greater number of Indigenous schools across Canada in the future. By honouring youth voices and sharing mentee’s experiences broadly, these research findings could help to promote the rippling of A/IYMP.


Loading Map....