Student Research Feature: Justin Brooks

Photo of MA Leadership student Justin Brooks

The School of Leadership Studies would like to extend our heartfelt congratulations to Justin Brooks on the completion of a Master’s Thesis titled, IY NONET: Bridging the gap “For the Good of” Indigenous Youth Aging Out of Care.

This thesis is available through RRU’s library here

We asked Justin a few questions about this research, and this is what he said: 

What are some key takeaways from your thesis that would be helpful for other leaders?

In Canada, we have many social justice issues that we champion. Unfortunately, there are other issues that are silent, that are not as visible. Currently in British Columbia, there is an epidemic taking place in the child welfare system that is removing children from their families at a rate that is alarming to say the least. Culture is a crucial component of the development and success of Indigenous peoples. Removing this exposure to culture and family creates turmoil within the Indigenous child or person, and manifests in ways that are detrimental to their spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional health.

How is the organization moving change forward based on your work?

My partner organization was aware of many recommendations my inquiry identified before my research was conducted. My research served to both reinforce and introduce concepts to support Indigenous youth aging out of care. The partner organization was happy to continue to support the previously identified recommendations and did commit to explore ways to incorporate the new ones. I was fortunate to work with and for an organization that was innovating within the field and presented me an opportunity to create programming that led to my research.

What surprised you about your experience of the thesis process?

This thesis process was by far the most difficult and lengthy ventures I’ve ever completed in my life. These two years seem longer than my undergrad. There were so many times I didn’t think I would make it through. At one point, it was suggested by a facilitator that I should drop out, that I was too far behind to make up the work I had missed due to negative life circumstances.

Thankfully, I received a B+ in that course. But now I feel elated. As though I’m ready for whatever comes next. Like I have a newfound power of success.

How are you applying lessons learned from your whole MA-Leadership journey?

I’m still working to support Indigenous youth through my current position as Indigenous Student Support Coordinator, First Peoples House, at the University of Victoria. I also plan to create a not-for-profit organization that supports youth coming out of care by facilitating life skills programming around health, general life skills, education obtainment and employment retention. Where a facilitation team visits First Nation communities and Delegated Aboriginal Agencies, delivers the programming, and follows youth for up to a year to ensure their success in their given venture be it employment or education. Through my research and my social work professions, I’m dedicated to support youth in the child welfare system for the foreseeable future.