Human dimension of river resource development and transboundary water security in the Peace-Slave River Basin

Regions: South Slave Region

Tags: social sciences, aboriginal community, traditional knowledge, history

Principal Investigator: Borowitz, Michelle A (4)
Licence Number: 14864
Organization: Department of Anthropology, University of Alberta
Licenced Year(s): 2013 2012 2011 2010
Issued: Feb 11, 2011

Objective(s): To document how issues and practices of transboundary water security and river resource developments affect local aboriginal communities in the South Slave region and the Peace Region.

Project Description: The objectives of this study are to:
- conduct collaborative and critical research that respects aboriginal knowledge
- disseminate aboriginal knowledge that authentically represents aboriginals themselves and their worldview and ways of knowing regarding their relationship to waterways and views and opinions of river resource development
- contribute to aboriginal peoples’ right to participate in and enjoy society’s benefits, including those that might result from research and aboriginal involvement in research activities
- document how issues and practices of trans boundary water security and river resource developments affect local aboriginal communities in the South Slave region and the Peace Region.

The study methods include:
Informal interviews: ordinary, everyday conversations with community members; inquire is casual, free flowing; topics directly or indirectly related to project’s purpose and aims.
Semi-structured interviews: face-to-face interviews with volunteer research participant; more in-depth than informal interviews; topics more directly related to project’s purpose and aims.
Participant observation: learning by observation; to live in the community for extended periods, to develop mutual trust and openness, to observe community activities and behaviours as it relates to the Peace and Slave Rivers; to discuss observed activities and behaviours, and community’s worldview.
Oral Histories: documenting individual and family histories about the Peace and Slave Rivers.
Archival research: searching local and regional archives for relevant data about the community as it relates to the Peace and Slave Rivers, and to river resource development.
Literature reviews: reading academic journals and books on river resource development, dam resistance movements, and human-water relationship, placing aboriginal communities in a cross-cultural context and on a regional and global comparison.
Other methods include: Public meetings; environmental and natural resource development legislation; hydroelectric corporation and hydroelectric organization mandates; ‘Grey literature’: reports and research conducted by non-government institutions and aboriginal communities.

The researcher aims to interview groups of community members: elders and traditional knowledge keepers; individuals in leadership or staff in aboriginal organization involved in the negotiations of the proposed hydroelectric dam project. The researcher seeks to obtain the strategic perspective of staff, leaders, and elders and to understand the various topics of river resource development, human-water relationship within particular community. The researcher will work with community leaders to recommend appropriate and reliable community members as research participants.

The researcher intends to prepare specific oral and visual presentation, such as community forums, school presentations, and community reports for members of the community, special groups such as elders and students, research participants and community leaders during the period of the project. The researcher also intends to provide presentation summaries written in clear and accessible English and, if possible, in Chipewyan.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from May 30, 2011 to August 21, 2011.