Money and Methodology (cont.)

Those who supported the project were also cautious. When asked to describe their early concerns about the study, nearly everyone involved with the UAPS says that getting the methodology right was their main preoccupation. As Noella Steinhauer of the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation puts it, “You start a project like this and think, ‘Here we go again. Will the voices be authentic? Will the findings be contextualized appropriately?’ Sometimes non-Aboriginal people hear what Aboriginal people are saying but they don’t really get it. In the end, I do think the UAPS has captured real voices. Communicating what we heard is the next challenge.”

Others involved with the study had more to add. “In terms of methodology, this was among the most ambitious studies I have worked on,” says Keith Neuman. “The first big issue was finding a sample that genuinely reflected the Aboriginal population in each city, since no sampling frame exists for the urban Aboriginal population.”

The UAPS team worked to capture voices from across the socio-economic spectrum, people with different levels of education, and people belonging to different identity groups (Métis and Inuit as well as a diversity of First Nations). “There are two dangers,” says John Richards of Simon Fraser University’s Public Policy Program. “On one hand, you can have a sample of people who are thriving and you miss the people who are struggling. The opposite danger is that you miss the people who are doing well—and that’s easy to do because they are unlikely to be connected to social service agencies targeting Aboriginal people. In that case you get a picture that hides the successes that many Aboriginal people are experiencing. I think our sample reflects a very honest effort to get the full picture.”

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