This paper reports on findings from the Learning for Understanding through Culturally-Inclusive Imaginative Development project (LUCID). LUCID has been a 5-year (2004–2009) research and implementation endeavour and a partnership between Simon Fraser University (SFU) and three districts in British Columbia, Canada. Via emotionally engaging pedagogies and a culturally-inclusive curriculum, the project aimed at improving students’ educational experience, particularly First Nations learners. Using a combination of Actor Network Theory (Latour, 2005, in: Reassembling the social: an introduction to Actor-Network Theory, Oxford University Press, Oxford) and Hermeneutic Phenomenology (Van Manen, 1990, in: Researching lived experience, The State University of New York, New York), site visits and interview data were examined with reference to the (f)actors influencing project objectives. Although each school district was unique, shared themes included: the importance of creating a community with shared intent; the role of executives as potential ‘‘change agents’’; the problematic nature of emotionally-engaging teaching; and the complex influences of cultural and historical trauma. The latter theme is explored in particular, presenting the argument that language deficiency and a consequent lack of autonomy might be at the root of many problems experienced in First Nations communities.