The First Nations Regional Early Childhood, Education and Employment Survey (FNREEES) builds on the success of the Regional Health Survey (RHS). Much like the RHS, the FNREEES was developed to address the ‘data gap’ by developing a survey that is driven by Western and Aboriginal understandings of well being in the areas of Early Childhood Development, Education and Employment. The survey is to be carried in First Nations communities across 11 provinces and territory – NS, PEI & NF, NB, QC, ON, MB, SK, AB, BC, and YT. Like the RHS, the FNREEES only surveys registered on-reserve First Nations.
Many national-level surveys have excluded First Nations people from their sampling. Consequently, there is a gap in Canada’s data as it applies to First Nations people. The Regional Health Survey (RHS) was started in the mid-1990s to help address this issue by collecting data relevant to First Nations peoples based on the Four Directions model of health. Since the RHS’s focus is on health the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) recognized the need to expand the scope data collection. This prompted the development of the First Nations Regional Early Childhood, Education and Employment Survey (FNREEES).
The FNIGC worked with the UNSM to develop a “sampling plan” for Nova Scotia that identifies how many surveys we needed to collect in order to have statistically reliable data. Since the population of on-reserve First Nations in Nova Scotia is over 10,000, we do not have the resources or time to survey everybody. A “sampling plan” helps us identify which communities will participate and what proportion of people will participate in the survey.
The UNSM surveyed a total of 13 communities for the FNREEES. 9 of the communities were from Nova Scotia (Acadia, Afton, Chapel Island, Eskasoni, Indianbrook, Membertou, Millbrook, Wagmatcook and Waycobah), 2 from PEI (Abegweit, Lennox Island), 1 from Newfoundland (Miawpukek), and 1 from New Brunswick (Tobique). The sample size for all 13 communities was 2160, compared to a population of over 10,000.
Once the sample size was determined, the Project Manager derived the participant lists, with the help of the Band Membership clerks. Lists were broken down into five age groups. The age categories consist of “young children” 0-5, “children” 6-11, “youth” 12-17, “adults” 18-54 and “older adults” 55+. From there each age group was broken down by gender, for a total of 10 different categories (5 age groups x 2 genders).
Once the lists were developed we used the Entryware Mobile software to figure out who our participants would be. It randomly picks people from the list to be surveyed and it is these people that we use for our main sample. If for whatever the people identified in the main sample are not able or willing to participate we have a replacement sample, which in essence is a backup list of potential participants who we can call upon to fill in for those who decline.
FNREEES fieldworkers are the first point of contact when it comes to participant recruitment. The UNSM has made an effort to hire fieldworkers from each of the 13 participating communities so they can survey their own communities. This creates an element of familiarity and community empowerment to the data collection process.
Fieldworkers contact the participants individually via telephone or in person. Once contacted a date and time is agreed upon. Again, if a participant does not want to or is unable to complete the survey fieldworkers note their refusal and refer to the replacement sample (noted above).
Once a participant agrees to participate the fieldworker sits down with them and reviews the FNREEES Consent Form. The form explains their right to free and prior consent, the potential emotional risks of participating in the survey, and how their identities will be protected when the data is used.
What is meant by “free and prior consent?” This means that their consent to participate was given freely, without any coercion, and that they were told of their rights and potential risks prior to starting the survey.
The potential of emotional harm is low, but it is always a concern when asking participants about personal, possibly intrusive, details about their lives. For example, the FNREEES contains questions about bullying, reasons for dropping out and incarceration (in the regional component). These topics may be emotionally troubling to answer. If participants become upset they are able to stop the survey and either pick up where they left off at a later date, or discard the survey entirely.
The UNSM goes to great lengths to protect the identities of survey respondents. Fieldworkers are bound by an oath of confidentiality that ensures that they will not compromise participant anonymity; otherwise they will be faced with consequences.
Furthermore, once surveys are completed they are archived on a secure online server that is highly protected. These records do not contain the participant’s name; instead they are assigned a unique identifying number called a RUID (respondent’s unique identifier).
Lastly, data is only reported in percentages, rather than reporting specific counts for responses. This means if a total of 50 people were asked what their gender is and 30 people said “Female” and 20 people said “Male” the results would be reported as follows: “60% of respondents were female and 40% were male.” This adds another layer of identity protection, because specific numbers of responses are not reported for a given variable.
The FNREEES Logo was designed with the input from the FNREEES Regional Advisory Committee. This information was given to graphic designer Mise’l Prosper, of “Junny.ca”, who then developed a number of potential logos. The logo that we chose incorporates symbolic elements relevant to the spirit of the FNREEES as it applies to our region.
The sun border is reminiscent of the OCAP logo; it represents our relationship with the FNIGC and our commitment to the OCAP principles of Ownership, Control, Access and Protection. The medicine wheel in the center is an acknowledgement of the teachings of the four directions. Furthermore, the fact that the medicine wheel is a powerful symbol in many Aboriginal groups across North America it represents a connection to a common holistic way of thinking. Our logo features two prominent Mi’kmaq hieroglyphs located in the top left and bottom right part of the logo. The top left (red) is the “L’nu” symbol. This simply means “the people.” This is meant to show our commitment to the people in our communities, because the project is intended to improve the well-being of “the people.” The bottom right (white) is the Mi’kmaq hieroglyph for “strength.” At the surface it represents the strength and quality of the project and those involved in making it possible. But the strength goes deeper in meaning, standing for the strength and resilience of our peoples as a whole.