Crossing the Racial Hiring Divide in Public Education: First Nation Teachers Encounters with Employee Fit, Merit, and White Racial Innocence

dc.contributor.advisorSchick, Carol
dc.contributor.authorEastmure, Lori R.
dc.contributor.committeememberSt. Denis, Verna
dc.contributor.committeememberTymchak, Michael
dc.contributor.committeememberHampton, Eber
dc.contributor.committeememberJuschka, Darlene
dc.contributor.externalexaminerPeden, Sherry
dc.descriptionA Thesis Submitted to the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Education, University of Regina. ix, 240 p.en_US
dc.description.abstractIn the Yukon Territory, significant social, political and legal efforts have been put in place to articulate equality between First Nations and non-First Nations people, not as equality based on good will, but equity as a legal right. These significant accomplishments in the advancement of First Nations rights include recent land claims agreements and self-government agreements, employment equity policy and staffing protocol. In contrast to these statements of legal equality, this study examines the ways in which hiring challenges encountered by First Nations teachers—as racialized individuals in Northern Canada—are made to appear normative and natural. The hiring challenges exist despite a pressing need for teachers of First Nations ancestry. The key mode of inquiry for this study is critical race theory that recognizes that racism is a systemic, normative, and everyday practice. Critical race theory takes into account the structural and institutionalized nature of racialization as expressed in liberal discourses of racism, racial inequalities and white supremacy. Critical race theory also acknowledges the importance of the legal and political status of Aboriginal people and their right to land claims. As a methodology, this study uses critical discourse analysis and institutional ethnography as interpretative methods to analyze discourses and documents related to hiring teachers in the Yukon Territory. These methods uncover examples of unequal power and hierarchical relations embedded in everyday discourses and reflected in the hiring policies and practices of public schools. The hiring criteria of what constitutes “suitably qualified” candidates was examined from three approaches: the concept of employee “fit”, meritocracy (and employment equity) and white racial innocence. These approaches used as hiring criteria show themselves to be unexamined “sorting” concepts on the part of white educational professionals who are making hiring decisions for public schools. The long-standing practice of hiring white teachers from the south and failing to hire well-qualified, locally trained First Nations teachers in their own territory suggests a school system deeply rooted in colonial practices. These practices underscore the systemic bias of a white-dominated education system and the unquestioned and long standing teacher identity as a racially superior white person. How can a teacher of First Nations ancestry measure up in this context? Through this research it became apparent that hiring challenges experienced by these northern First Nations teachers are not based on their training or lack of experience although these are the take-for-granted reasons. The matter of better training or lack of teaching experience are not the real issues for failing to hire First Nations teachers even though these statements are often made. Rather, as increasing numbers of First Nations students take up the challenge of higher education, these are simple and convenient criticisms that mask the investment that white society has in maintaining public education as a white institution. As this study found, because racial inequality appears as normal and natural and furthermore, benefits white society, there is little incentive to change the structures and processes that perpetuate it. Despite the efforts, abilities and skills of First Nations teachers, they are held to a higher level of scrutiny that belies true equality within a racialized social order, without changing the order itself.en_US
dc.description.uriA Thesis Submitted to the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy *, University of Regina. *, * p.en
dc.publisherFaculty of Graduate Studies and Research, University of Reginaen_US
dc.titleCrossing the Racial Hiring Divide in Public Education: First Nation Teachers Encounters with Employee Fit, Merit, and White Racial Innocenceen_US
dc.typeThesisen of Educationen_US of Reginaen of Philosophy (PhD)en_US
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