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

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region

Tags: contaminants, social sciences, research communication, Inuvialuit

Principal Investigator: Reinfort, Breanne C (4)
Licence Number: 14860
Organization: University of Manitoba
Licenced Year(s): 2012 2011 2010 2009
Issued: Feb 08, 2011

Objective(s): To develop a communication model to be used by future researchers to facilitate communicating their research with and addressing the concerns of Inuvialuit communities.

Project Description: The goals of this project 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 and to 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 from all ages 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. An 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 is intended 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.

As the focus of this project is about communicating scientific study results to communities, results from the contaminants case studies will be discussed in a variety of forms as community members and Ms Reinfort investigate the best ways for results to be communicated. 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 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 April 4, 2011 to December 12, 2011.