Responses to a Reduced Availability of Barren-ground Caribou in Fort Good Hope

Regions: Sahtu Settlement Area

Tags: social sciences, caribou, traditional knowledge, culture, human adaptation

Principal Investigator: Parlee, Brenda L (16)
Licence Number: 14806
Organization: University of Alberta
Licenced Year(s): 2011 2010
Issued: Sep 22, 2010
Project Team: Roger McMillan (Graduate Student, Field Worker, University of Alberta)

Objective(s): To determine the community responses (especially among youth) to a reduced availability of barren-ground caribou.

Project Description: The objective of this research is to explore what are the community responses (especially among youth) to a reduced availability of barren-ground caribou. Sub questions are what are some responses in terms of hunting practices, and what are some responses in terms of Dene food sharing practices.

Under this researcher’s 2009 licence (licence 14591 - Social Networks as a Livelihood Strategy among K’asho Got’ine Youth), fieldwork methods included:
-Participant Observation - researcher participated in two hunting activities: a community hunt and a barren-ground caribou hunt
-Semi-structured interviews (33 interviews) - discussing the importance of traditional harvesting rights, and food-sharing traditions
-Surveys (33 interviews) - tracking the distribution of meats harvested from these two hunting activities; these were done in interview form, alongside the semi-structured interviews

Under this new research licence, the researcher intends to use the following methods:
-Participant observation (on the autumn community hunt 2010)
-Semi-structured interviews (with RRC members, discussing the role of the RRC in the community)
-Youth focus group (further discussing the role of youth in hunting and food-sharing)
-Community Workshop (discussing preliminary study results with the broader community)

Opportunities for local involvement in this project stem from the study design of the previous work undertaken in Fort Good Hope . The Sahtu Renewable Resource Board has been involved since the outset of the project, and collaboration with the Fort Good Hope Renewable Resource Council was ongoing during fieldwork in the autumn of 2009. For the upcoming additional research, benefits to the community are anticipated to emerge from a community workshop at which study participants will have a chance to discuss the importance of sharing Dene foods. As this workshop will be designed to bring together community members of different ages, participants may find social and cultural benefits to the conversations. A youth component will be highlighted, expressing the major themes identified through a separate youth focus group. This focus group will offer youth a chance to give their perspectives of harvesting and food-sharing, and may join a separate presentation as part of the community workshop.

The Renewable Resource Council may benefit from the framework of social-ecological resilience that guides this discussion of the meat-sharing processes in Fort Good Hope. Further, the preliminary results regarding community perceptions about the purpose and importance of community hunts might improve the ability of the RRC to constructively engage those perceptions.

The research process has thus far been informed greatly by a local research assistant, and it is anticipated that this person will benefit from learning more about the process of data analysis and data validation. The research assistant may also have an opportunity to attend an international conference on social-ecological resilience (March 2011).

The primary rationale for this trip is to validate interview data with study participants (interviews conducted under research licence 14591). This process will give participants a chance to discuss some of the preliminary study findings before those findings are brought to the broader community through a workshop. It is hoped that an additional trip can be made to Fort Good Hope at the conclusion of this study to present final results to the community, and to the Sahtu Renewable Resources Board.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from September 21 to October 31, 2010.