First Nations communities are linked by certain historical events and current political objectives. Yet they encompass many different realities that reflect tribal ancestry, geographic location, and a host of varying socio-economic conditions. The destinations envisioned by partnering bands and tribal councils in the First Nations Partnership Programs were not identical, and no two programs looked exactly alike. This is both the fundamental strength and the challenge of the partnership approach.
Over a two-year period, data were gathered and analyzed to capture the experiences of representative groups of people involved in each of the training programs between 1989 and 1999. A social participatory approach was used, asking each partner community to contribute questions that would yield feedback of interest to their agenda. The impacts of the training program across groups of program participants were uncovered by an ecologically comprehensive research methodology that included qualitative and quantitative data collection strategies, including:
Findings are based on interpretation of 290 transcribed interviews and supporting documents. Cross-sectional data analyses were used for comparisons across partnerships and across a sample of mainstream college programs in which some First Nations students were enrolled. These comparisons helped us to identify factors that contributed to different kinds of challenges and successes in program delivery and outcomes. Evaluation findings highlighted here are based on the voices of program participants, as well as the experiences of the university-based team who worked alongside them.
A brief overview of findings is provided here. More detailed reports have been published elsewhere (See resources published after 1998).
The program evaluation conducted from 1998-2000 built upon formative evaluations which assessed the first two partnerships. These evaluations shed light on the impacts of the training program on social cohesion, particularly on the re-instatement of Elders to positions of influence and respect in community life. (To receive copies of these formative evaluations, see Program Contacts.)
The summative program evaluation conducted between 1998-2000 confirmed that the generative potential of the partnership process lay, in part, in:
Program evaluation does not mark the end of the story, but an informative viewpoint along the way for ourselves and our First Nations partners -- and a promising new place to start for those involved in policy, program development and direct practice addressing children's well-being in cultural communities.
Ball, J. & Pence, A. (2001) "Program Evaluation Report: Strengthening Community Capacity for Early Childhood Care and Development" Victoria: First Nations Partnership Programs, University of Victoria.