Linking Place Identity, Environmental Change and Adaptation in the Context of Changing Water Conditions in Fort Resolution, NT
Principal Investigator: Fresque, Jennifer A (2)
Licence Number: 14818
Organization: Wilfrid Laurier University
Licenced Year(s): 2011 2010
Issued: Nov 10, 2010

Objective(s): To investigate the link between place identity and adaptation to environmental change with specific emphasis on water, and to develop a holistic picture of how adaptation takes place in Fort Resolution.

Project Description: The purpose of this research is to investigate the link between place identity and adaptation to environmental change with specific emphasis on water, and to develop a holistic picture of how adaptation takes place in Fort Resolution. There are three main objectives:

1. To identify and highlight the extent to which there have been changes in water quality and quantity in the Slave River Delta and Great Slave Lake
2. To examine the extent to which individual and collective place identity in Fort Resolution is connected to water and the extent to which this connection may be influenced by potentially changing water conditions
3. To explore whether or not place identity contributes to how the community deals with changing water conditions (adaptive capacity)

Two sets of semi-structured interviews will be used, each roughly one hour long and conducted by the researcher and/or community collaborators. Where appropriate, interviews will be conducted with an interpreter. Interviews may be audio/video recorded written down based on consent from the participant, and responses will be written down.

Firstly, interviews will be conducted about changing water conditions with water resource managers (or those in related fields), government personnel (multiple scales) and Elders. To identify water resource managers and government personnel, a snowball sampling technique will be used, beginning with existing contacts in Fort Resolution and Yellowknife. Existing contacts will be approached and asked to identify individuals they feel could best address the issue of water resource change. Suggestions will be followed up, and these individuals will also be asked to identify other potential participants. To identify Elders, lists will be requested from Deninu K'ue First Nation (DKFN) and Fort Resolution Metis Council (FRMC). Using a peer recommendation process lists will be reviewed independently by three local collaborators who will be asked to make recommendations participants. Individuals identified on two or more of the lists through the peer recommendation process, will be approached for interviews.

Secondly, interviews about place identity, water-related values, and water change will be conducted with a broad spectrum of community members. In Fort Resolution, “kinship is strongly linked to place of origin, which determines many people’s knowledge of the land and connection to place” (Wesche, 2009, p.215). Therefore, initial identification of participants is proposed using familial place of origin and ties to/use of different places in the traditional territory. The purpose of this strategy is to ensure that a broad cross section of community members is included in the research. After this starting point, snowball sampling will be used to identify additional participants. Family members with ties to different places in the traditional territory will be identified and approached as gatekeepers, and asked to recommend individuals for interview. Those individuals will be contacted to arrange interviews, and also asked to recommend others in an on-going snowball sampling process. To ensure that land users/harvesters are identified for different areas regions, lists will be requested from the Economic Development office. These will be cross-referenced with suggestions from family gatekeepers and snow ball sampling to ensure that the different areas are represented.

A photography project will be used to explore the relationship that community youth have to water and place, and how they see water changing. This involves using photography to document the voices, values and priorities of community members. Over roughly 6 weeks, youth will be given themes for which they will take as many photos as they would like. During the project I will meet with the youth individually and as a group to discuss the photos, their experience, and any issues related to water they observe. Following completion, I propose to hold an exhibit in the community where the youth can display their photographs, and compile all of the photos with captions related to the themes into a book which will then be given to each participant as well as made available to the school library and offices. Interested youth will be identified through the above snowball sampling technique used for interviews (via family members) as well as through the staff at Deninu School. If permitted, a short presentation will be given to classes at the school to identify potentially interested youth not suggested. All equipment will be provided by the researcher.

The researcher has undertaken two informal scoping trips (November 2008 & July 2009) to incorporate community needs and feedback into project development. A copy of the summary proposal was sent to Deninu Kue First Nation for review. A presentation will be made to Chief and Council upon return to incorporate further feedback and suggestions. A community open house is also proposed.

All local community organizations and schools will receive a final report on the outcomes of the study. Any regional/territorial/federal organizations that participated in the research or have a water-related mandate will receive a copy of the final report.

Additional places where results may be communicated include a university thesis, journal articles, and conference presentations, all of which will be made available to the community as prepared. Community partners will be consulted prior to publication of journal articles and conference presentations. The university thesis and related results will be made available to community partners for verification prior to completion.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from November 10, 2010 to December 31, 2010.