Cultural Infusions and Shifting Sands

What Helps and Hinders Career Decision-Making of Indigenous Young People


  • Dr. Deepak Mathew Trinity Western University
  • Ria K. Nishikawara University of British Columbia
  • Dr. Alanaise O. Ferguson Simon Fraser University
  • Dr. William A. Borgen University of British Columbia



Indigenous, Young adults, Career Decision Making


Indigenous young adults experience disproportionately high rates of unemployment, which are exacerbated by systemic factors such as poverty and oppression (Britten & Borgen, 2010). Despite these challenges, many Indigenous young adults do well in their educational and employment pursuits (Bougie et al., 2013). This study explored what helped and hindered the career decision-making of 18 Indigenous young adults in Canada who see themselves as doing well in this regard. Using the Enhanced Critical Incident Technique (ECIT), a qualitative research method which focuses on helping and hindering factors (Butterfield et al., 2009), 13 categories were identified: (a) Family/Relationships & commitments, (b) Setting goals/Taking initiative/Focusing on interests, (c) Support from community/mentors, (d) A healthy way (physical, mental, social), (e) Finding meaning/motivation & contributing, (f) Networking & who you know, (g) Systemic/External factors (institution, job-market, sexism, racism, interpersonal aspects), (h) Financial situation, (i) Knowledge/Information/Certainty, (j) Experience (work/life), (k) Educational opportunities/Training & specialized education, (l) Indigenous background/Cultural factors, and (m) Courage & self-worth (vs. fear/doubt in self/others).  These categories highlighted the systemic, interpersonal, and experiential processes in career decision-making for Indigenous young people in Canada. Implications for career counselling practice and future research are also discussed.


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How to Cite

Mathew, D., Nishikawara, R., Ferguson, A., & Borgen, W. (2023). Cultural Infusions and Shifting Sands: What Helps and Hinders Career Decision-Making of Indigenous Young People. Canadian Journal of Career Development, 22(1), 6–18.