Reflection, research and community are the three things that interested fourth-year student Tia Bankosky in pursuing a project with the Ayalik Fund - a Nunavut-based organization that gives Inuit youth opportunities to build self-esteem and confidence through challenging outdoor adventure, social-cultural exploration and meeting other young Canadians.
The Indigenous and Environmental Studies and Sciences (IESS) student connected with the Fund through the Trent Community Research Centre to create a new evaluation protocol for its programs. Thanks to the analysis, reflection and cross-cultural communication led by Ms. Bankosky, the Fund will help Inuit youth flourish even more.
“Reflection is a huge part of my degree in IESS,” recalls Ms. Bankosky. “It seemed like a good fit to explore what it means to reflect as an organization providing this kind of work.”
Taking a closer look
“It’s a behind-the-scenes analysis,” explains Ms. Bankosky when describing the community-based research project she took on. The Ayalik Fund requested an academically-based research study including a survey of participants, to examine the impact of its programs.
Through interviews and review of scholarly articles, reports, strategies and program evaluation theory, the undergraduate student laid the groundwork for a more extensive evaluation to be conducted going forward.
“It’s been interesting to talk to organizations about how they approach evaluation,” reflects Ms. Bankosky. “Everyone recognizes its importance.”
Storytelling through data
Through the experience, Ms. Bankosky learned about qualitative research methodology and particularly enjoyed the “valuable storytelling” that came through conducting interviews.
“One of the skills the IESS department emphasizes is cross-cultural communications,” says Ms. Bankosky. “We’re talking about programs for Indigenous youth in this Western world. Having this background in cross-cultural communications and knowledge systems has been vital to understanding what interview participants are actually saying.”
Following analysis, she will produce a final research paper. She has already presented her work at the TCRC Celebration of Research where she won the Innovation Presentation Award for a Poster Presentation. She will provide data and a recommendation report to the Ayalik Fund for use in evaluation projects and funding applications.
“Using these required skills such as critical thinking and analysis to support issues and meet the needs of my community is really important to me,” she says. “I’m glad that I’ve had this experience.”
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