First Nations leadership development within a Saskatchewan context
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The Saskatchewan First Nations leadership development study is essentially a continuation of my previous research on First Nations leadership and spirituality (2002). The purpose of this study was to explore First Nations leadership and leadership development in Saskatchewan within the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations organizational context. To accomplish this, the study involved an extensive literature review on Indigenous and Western leadership and leadership development theories. Further, an examination of four established and prominent North American Indigenous leadership development programs was conducted to gain further understanding of Indigenous leadership. In addition, 10 First Nations leaders from the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations participated in in-depth interviews. Qualitative inquiry was chosen for this study because qualitative research methods were congruent with First Nations methods of sharing and preserving information. In-depth interviews with semi-structured questions were conducted to obtain information on Saskatchewan First Nations leadership and leadership development. All but one participant agreed to the use of an audio taped interview. Once the interviews were complete, Atlas-ti, a computer software program, was used to assist in the coding, categorizing, and thematic emergence process. The four Aboriginal leadership development programs that were examined were University of Arizona’s Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, Pennsylvania State’s American Indian Leadership Program, Banff Centre’s Aboriginal Leadership and Management Program, and the Aboriginal Leadership Institute Incorporated, located in Winnipeg. These programs strived to remain current and were involved in research initiatives. Moreover, they all attempted to incorporate First Nations culture, history, and issues alongside Western leadership skills, training, and education. They evolved, adapted, and were sensitive to change and innovation in leadership development. First Nations leadership development programs, like those studied, are valuable because they unite Aboriginal leadership for the purpose of personal and professional growth.The First Nations leaders that participated in this study shared personal and professional leadership and leadership development experiences and philosophy. The leaders indicated that being a First Nations leader was challenging because it continuously contended with two fundamentally different cultures – Western and First Nations. In addition, First Nations poverty, lack of funding, residential school effects, addictions, among other things, made leadership difficult. Because First Nations leadership is physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually taxing, many of the Chiefs cited internal rather than material satisfaction. Moreover, these leaders were often motivated by a cause and the desire for collective well-being and positive change. Family, community members, other leaders, Elders, and the ‘Creator’ were acknowledged as sources of strength and inspiration. The First Nations leaders who participated in the study perceived leadership development as a life-long process of formal and informal learning experiences. Consequently, many of the leaders indicated that leadership development began in childhood with individual and family development. The leaders described a First Nations leadership development program that was flexible (able to work in community, tribal, and provincial settings), cognizant of First Nations culture, needs, and issues, and aware of current and innovative leadership practices. First Nations leadership development should also incorporate Western knowledge, skills, and education. This First Nations leadership investigation has provided invaluable insight into the values, beliefs, worldview, and philosophies that entail and ultimately constitute Indigenous leadership and leadership development. Studies that focus on Indigenous leadership development ultimately have significant implications for theory, research, fundamental, and practical applications for learning organizations.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
CommitteeSt. Denis, Verna; Renihan, Patrick; Foster, Rosemary; Billinton, Jack; Wimmer, Randy
Copyright DateMarch 2005
First Nations Leadership