Arctic Contaminants: Exploring effective and appropriate communication between Inuvialuit communities and researchers

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region

Tags: contaminants, social sciences, research communication

Principal Investigator: Reinfort, Breanne C (4)
Licence Number: 14575
Organization: University of Manitoba
Licenced Year(s): 2012 2011 2010 2009
Issued: Jul 21, 2009
Project Team: Co-investigators (20-40) (Participant, Interested community residents)

Objective(s): The short-term objectives of this study are to bring forward indigenous perspectives on contaminants, contaminant research, and how research is communicated in communities; in conjunction with community members, explore culturally relevant and appropriate means of communicating scientific results between Inuvialuit communities and researchers; using these means discussed, communicate contaminants research being conducted in the Beaufort Sea region as part of ArcticNet Phase II and IPY CFL studies to the community of Sachs Harbour; present these outcomes in the form of a participatory video. The long-term objectives of this study are to: develop a communication model to be used by future researchers to facilitate communicating their research with and addressing the concerns of Inuvialuit communities; empower community members to engage in contaminants research occurring in and around their communities.

Project Description: The short-term objectives of this study are to:
- Bring forward indigenous perspectives on contaminants, contaminant research, and how research is communicated in communities;
- In conjunction with community members, explore culturally relevant and appropriate means of communicating scientific results between Inuvialuit communities and researchers;
- Using these means discussed, communicate contaminants research being conducted in the Beaufort Sea region as part of ArcticNet Phase II and IPY CFL studies to the community of Sachs Harbour;
- Present these outcomes in the form of a participatory video.

The long-term objectives of this study are to:
- Develop a communication model to be used by future researchers to facilitate communicating their research with and addressing the concerns of Inuvialuit communities;
- Empower community members to engage in contaminants research occurring in and around their communities.

This study intends to use a participatory approach in all aspects of processes and procedures, which means that everyone involved is a researcher and a participant that can be involved in any and all aspects of the project. Participatory video is anticipated to be the main form of research, as it places the video in the hands of the participants, thus celebrating multiple ways of knowing and encouraging participants to represent their own reality. Although approximate study procedures are described here, they are expected to change with community input, and thus are required to be flexible.

Interviews and focus groups conducted will be open-ended and semi-structured, lasting a maximum of four hours in length. All discussions will be video-recorded. Participants will be involved in determining the formation of the focus groups and who is interested in filming and being interviewed, in addition to developing the questions that will be asked. This study is intended for all interested community members to have different perspectives and experiences represented, and participants are welcome to discuss in Inuvialuktun or English.

The local Hunters and Trappers Committee (HTC) and consultations with the Inuvialuit Research Assistant (IRA) for the Inuvialuit Settlement Region will help raise awareness of the project and identify interested participants. In July and August, 2009, Ms. Reinfort will be in Sachs Harbour to advertise the project within the community via local radio, with posters, and in person with community members, inviting people to become involved. In other words, this time will be used to start the discussion and preparation aspects of the project, before the project begins in any formal sense.

Initially, a larger information meeting will be arranged for the community to discuss how they would like to proceed with the project, and organize who would like to participate in interviews and/or focus groups and filming. As such, the exact number of participants is currently unknown, and may change during the course of the project, but it is anticipated that 20-40 residents will be involved.

Subsequent visits to the community will involve interview and focus group discussions, inputting and editing video footage, transcribing discussions from video, and storyboarding. The project is intended to be open and reflexive at all stages, with no pre-determined outcomes.

As a community-centered project, there are many opportunities for locals to become involved as little or as much as they wish. Locals are invited to participate in and/or lead individual or focus group interviews and discussions, develop questions for discussion, film the discussions, transcribe discussions, analyze discussions, edit video footage, develop questionnaires, create and manage websites, and evaluate the project. Additional opportunities may also arise during the course of the project.

These opportunities offer hands-on learning experiences to all people involved, and skills can be transferred to other initiatives that the community wishes to explore and develop. As the video will belong to the community, it can provide a platform from which other community-led communication or research initiatives can expand, be it within Sachs Harbour, the greater Inuvialuit Settlement Region, or the wider Arctic and scientific communities.

This project has the potential to strengthen relationships between community members and researchers, increase knowledge and awareness of contaminants issues, empower individuals to become engaged in conducting research that can benefit Northern and scientific communities, and increase the understanding of the process of communication when discussing contaminants research. Through discussions on contaminants issues and how to better communicate them, participants can become more informed about these issues and be able to communicate contaminants messages within their community as they see appropriate. A community that has the knowledge and means to interact with this information at the community level can use this awareness to help make sense of how contaminants fit in with and impact their health, and the health of their environment.

Culturally appropriate and effective ways of communicating study results will be the outcome of this project and as such, are currently undetermined. Aside from a thesis and publications in the peer-reviewed literature by Ms Reinfort, possibilities of communicating study results may include video, presentations to schools and researchers, radio reports, web-based documents, reports, pamphlets, or posters; all of which will be community-led and collaborative.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from July 21 to August 21, and October 05 to December 18, 2009, in Sachs Harbour.