Johnston Research Inc. – page 1
Waawiyeyaa (Circular) Evaluation Model
Culturally based research is not first founded in a western model nor does
it try to fit findings into a culturally appropriate version of that model. This
research begins at the ground level: rooted in community knowledge. Using this
approach the evaluation is, in itself, “participatory”: it is a community-based evaluation. Evaluation is very much a western concept, but the concept of
continual improvement is not foreign to Aboriginal people. Many First Nations
speak about the four aspects of self and the importance of maintaining balance
within one’s self. Johnston Research Inc. has developed an Aboriginal based
evaluation tool named the Waawiyeyaa (Circular) Evaluation Model. While the
foundation for this model centres on the individual First Nations people believe
that what affects the individual: extends to the family, community, and the nation.
In this respect, evaluation is inherent in Aboriginal teachings because as
individuals improve so do organizations – cyclical improvement.
The Waawiyeyaa Evaluation Model is founded in the teachings of the
individual or self. There are four aspects that make up the self: spirit, emotion, mind, and body. These four aspects exist in a circular fashion and are not separate
compartments by any means. Each aspect overlaps with the other; they are in
constant motion. There are no clear borders between each aspect, in the sense that
none can exist in isolation or bare meaning alone. The self relies on all four aspects for continued existence. Hence, the inclusion of the four selves: Spirit,
Mind, Body, and Emotion.
All sickness begins in spirit. How we see directly affects how we feel.
How we feel affects how we are physically. In order to be healthy or balanced,
one must be intellectually wise, as well as emotionally wise. The body follows
these two wisdoms, providing we do not contaminate it. Motion is what living is
about: constantly learning, adapting, and changing to our environment. Constant
movement, opposite a static existence, is what defines us as living. Hence, the inclusion of Growing in the middle of the four selves.
The Red Road is a path of life. When a person is able to spend a lot of their
time on this path, that are a deeply involved person who is addressing the issues
and needs of not only their mental and physical selves, but also the emotional and
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Waawiyeyaa (Circular) Evaluation Model
Cycle of Growth
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spiritual selves. The guiding principles in Aboriginal teachings on healing place
emphasis on all four aspects.
The Aboriginal traditional approach often begins with sweat lodges, cedar
baths, and medicine cleansings in order to cleanse the spiritual self. Letting go
ceremonies, talking circles, individual counselling speak to the emotional self. By
healing the spiritual self, the other selves begin to follow suit. This is not a
smooth road, while the spiritual and emotional selves may begin this healing
journey, the mental and physical selves must overcome temptation and resist old
habits, such as drinking, or engaging in verbal abuse. If a person is able to let go
of their past hurts and pains, then they can begin to control their addictions/habits.
They are able to step that much closer to leading a “balanced” life. However, in
order to attain these goals, a person needs to be an intense participant in the
healing program. Casual event interactions will not get at the complex issues that were just described above. The process becomes cyclical as a person moves closer
and closer to living a more “balanced” life. Hence, the Cycle of Growing, displayed previously, uses a cyclical motion. This motion is also useful in describing a person’s journey along the Red Road or Peace Road and the
continuation of the cycle of violence in a family, or a community, etc.
Dealing with diabetes is a very dynamic process and requires an approach
which can describe a person’s story and express this wealth of knowledge. The Waawiyeyaa Evaluation Model may provide a venue for a person to learn to tell
his/her personal stories using visualizations.
Examples from the 3-D animation follow:
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The previous diagram is called the Individual Self-Evaluation because according to programs founded on traditional teachings the healing process is one which is self-healing. Likewise, then an evaluation of such a program should be based on the voices of the participants. One way in which to map this journey is to describe it in terms of how they perceive the interaction of their spirit, mind, emotion, and body along their healing path.
Further, this speaks about the Individual and not the participant directly, because it is important to acknowledge and recognize the healing journey’s of program personnel, not only the staff but the management as well.
The aspects of the self are interconnected, they are constantly interacting and a person of good health has a good balance between these four parts of self. A sense of harmony is felt when balance is reached, however, no one stays in complete harmony, if one were, the spheres would be motionless, and it is said that if one lay motionless, they are not growing, and if one is not growing, they are not living.
It is a reductionist approach to isolate two of these spheres and suggest how they interact with one another. It can only be considered as a whole. When doing analyses, one would use an interaction approach and when relationships are not statistically significant, one must consider if they are substantially significant, before rejecting the hypothesis.
Path of Growth
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Growth speaks about the teaching that we are a spirit foremost, and are living on
this earth for a reason: to learn. It is not up to us how that spirit learns, hence the
many roads traveled. We may need to travel back and forth, through quote
“failure” and quote “disease”. I say this because it is taught that everything
happens for a reason and your spirit must experience certain events, so apparent
failure or disease are not negative. The idea is for us to turn around and realize
what it is that is trying to be told to us by the event and how we can get through it
and learn that lesson we are being asked to learn.
In the tree of life we always know our way back to the centre, to balance. Our
teachings help us find our way back.
Using this model, there are no program outcomes that pertain to participants.
Instead, a program outcome may be that the personnel effectively and efficiently
deliver services which assist participants in self-healing. However, the “outcome” that a participant no longer uses insulin, is specific to that person, that person
defines it. Therefore, the participant has chosen their path to healing and the
program can attribute their assistance in supporting the participant as the programs
When we are conceived we are a “pure being”. We are quote “perfectly” balanced.
The degree of balance at birth also depends on what lessons we bring with us, as
spirits, to learn in this life. As we grow, we will undergo trauma or “stress”, for
example, the loss of a parent. This is an emotional feeling and can lead to other
Driven by Fear
Participate in a
Loss of a Parent
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The previous graphic illustrates that the loss of a parent affects the emotional
sphere. This leads to the development of internal health problems which affect the
body, causing eczema to manifest. The self is unbalanced in both the emotional
and physical spheres. The emotional loss of a parent leads to the mind being
driven by fear. For example, fear that all men leave and fear that all men fool
around; in this example these fears were passed by the mother when the father left.
Now, three spheres are affected. Next, the spirit develops a sense of hopelessness,
a feeling of not having any good reason to live.
The self cannot seem to find happiness in any relationships, not with the father,
mother or partners. The self continues to use hydrocortisone prescribed by a
family physician. This begins to help the physical pain of the eczema feel better,
but the other spheres are still suffering. The person goes to an Aboriginal Health
centre and sees a healer who smokes the pipe with him/her and prays for him/her,
also the healer gives him/her some white pine to boil to smooth on the eczema.
The self’s spirit gradually begins to feel better, a sense of purpose is realized and
so the spirit and body are a bit better. Through the work and many years, balance
begins to restore, by addressing all of the issues; including the root issue of the
loss of a parent, the sense of “abandonment”.