The results of applied research require organizational leaders, other stakeholders, or both, to undertake changes within their organization or related organizations and groups. The processes required to implement the study recommendations are described and analyzed in this section, as well as the implications if the recommendations are not implemented. In this implementation section, I draw on the findings and the relevant literature and consider the leadership implications for organizational change that the recommendations will require.
Aboriginal Education Council Terms of Reference
The Aboriginal Education Council must have a direct reporting relationship to the Board of VCC in order to effect change. If the Council continues only in an advisory capacity for the AES Department, which has limited power within the organizational structure, Aboriginally defined indicators will not be institutionalized.
A critical consideration for VCC will be the newly established positive relations between VCC and the union stakeholders that include the CUPE union, Faculty Association, and Student Union. Within VCC currently, representatives of each of these groups sit on the expanded leadership team and must be involved in the each of the recommendations. If these leadership recommendations are not enacted the primary catalyst for all other recommendations will not be established and the success of Aboriginal learners will remain limited.
Recognizing that institutional change takes three to five years, VCC must make a concerted effort within this strategic planning process to make a commitment to inclusive excellence with a focus upon establishing clear, transparent, and accountable hiring practices that ensure cultural diversity within the college by 2015. An important consideration is that VCC is not only accountable to the unions within VCC, but more importantly, to the community it serves. If the commitment to diversity and inclusive excellence (Williams et al., 2005) are not implemented the college will remain homogenous, will not reflect the community it serves, and therefore will be limited in its ability to be responsive, effective, relevant and viable.
Student Body Citizenship
The planning and actions related to the recommendation to enhance student body citizenship should include the senior leadership team and the student union. If the recommendations for student citizenship are not implemented within the growing diversity of the VCC catchment area students will not receive as rich an education and racism will continue to grow.
Implications for Future Research
As an action research project, this research is expected to continue within the current strategic planning process and the Aboriginal Education Council. Within these complex systems, knowledge-based strategies are essential to effectively serve the growing number of Aboriginal learners at VCC, led by the Aboriginal Education Council, recognizing that
Indigenous people should control their own knowledge and do their own research. If others should choose to enter into collaborative relationships with Indigenous peoples, the research should empower and benefit their communities and heritages rather than the researchers, Canadian institutions, and society. (Battiste, 2002, p. 27)
Firstly, this includes on-going action research on the success of Aboriginal learners that includes more learners across all schools at VCC. This research should build off of the existing Consortium research and this paper. The most important area of research that would be required is the engagement and commitment of senior leadership at VCC in supporting Aboriginal learners.
Additional research on the success of Aboriginal learners is on-going within BC; however, specific research is recommended for ALMD to examine the correlation between the representation of Aboriginal employees within a post-secondary institute and the success of Aboriginal learners.
Additional research recommended for ALMD to undertake is an examination of systems changes that are necessary to support Aboriginal higher learners. Such research has been predominantly focused upon exemplary practices that do not address first- and second-level systems changes necessary to transform a post-secondary institute beyond short-term funded pilot projects. This could include a more detailed examination and comparison of the Koorie Education Institute (Deakin University, 2007) and other leading systems change models, with the intent of enhancing the authority of Aboriginal peoples within post-secondary education systems. An important component of this research would include a detailed analysis of federal and provincial funding that is targeted for Aboriginal learners and which should be transferred to the authority of Aboriginal peoples, as undertaken by the Koorie Education Institute in partnership with Deakin University.
A significant area of recommended research that is politically charged is the effect of racism, wherein the existence of racism toward Aboriginal students is often ignored or denied (St. Denis & Hampton, 2002, p. 49). This research should inform the evolution of anti-racism strategies and strengthen anti-racism and ethnocultural equity policies that support student achievement, reduce gaps in student achievement, and increase public confidence in publicly funded education (Government of Ontario, Ministry of Education, 2008).
This chapter examined the organizational implications that VCC must consider, including enhancing the authority of Aboriginal peoples within the Board of Directors, through an Education Council, within senior leadership, and by increasing the number of Aboriginal peoples participating within the institution. This chapter also considered the implications for the study body and the need to enhance citizenship. All of these implications must be considered as part of a comprehensive body that, without any one part, cannot be as effective.
CHAPTER SIX: LESSONS LEARNED
In this chapter, I review the conduct and management of this applied action research project and identify my lessons learned about the process of conducting action research and of leading positive organizational change. I identify what processes I would recommend be changed for other researchers who collaborate with Aboriginal peoples. Specifically, this includes the process recognized within academic research that falls under the approval processes of the Tri-Council (Interagency Advisory Panel on Research Ethics, 2009). Other areas of lessons learned include the intimate relationship a researcher can have with the research and the methods like journaling that can be used to reflect and identify these potential biases that, once recognized, can benefit the researcher and the research.