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: 14869
Organization: Wilfrid Laurier University
Licenced Year(s): 2011 2010
Issued: Feb 11, 2011

Objective(s): To investigate the link between place identity and adaptation to environmental change with specific emphasis on water, 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, 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 (SRD) and Great Slave Lake (GSL);
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; and
3. To explore whether or not place identity contributes to how the community deals with changing water conditions (adaptive capacity).

Document analysis, including a review of newspapers, websites, reports, literature and other documents as available will be used to explore potential changing water conditions and examine key community values and priorities for water.

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 related), 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 of who to speak to. 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 with a broad spectrum of community members will be conducted. 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 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.

One to two focus groups will also be used to discuss water change, place identity and community concerns and priorities for the protection and use of water. Focus groups will be roughly 1 hour long, with 5-10 participants each. Recruitment will be through word of mouth.
Additional information and educational benefits include: compilation of information about water quality and quantity conditions in the SRD and GSL, and identification and highlighting of key values, concerns and priorities related to water, which can contribute to the community’s voice around water issues. There will also be compilation of information which may benefit groups (at multiple levels) responsible for developing water management strategies, and which may help such groups identify and respond to community concerns regarding impacts to water from industrial development and climate change.

The project also aims to engage youth in a community-based project about their land and waters through the use of photography. This will involve the development of tangible products (e.g. photo compilations, a community exhibition) that will remain in the community. I hope to engage with the Deninu school with regards to this project, as well as other ways that this project may provide educational benefits both within and outside the classroom.

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. The photo project has been modified slightly after consultation with staff at Deninu School, to become more school based, something that was desired by the teachers and principal at the school. After discussion with the teachers and principal, it was determined it would be more beneficial to students and the school to conduct the project in the classroom and to meet curriculum objectives. This way all students will be able to participate, but only those who have signed consent forms will have information included in the research project. Planning has/is being done in collaboration with staff at the school. During the project, the researcher will meet with the youth as a group to discuss the photos, their experience, and any issues related to water they observe. Photos and activities will also contribute directly to classroom objectives and curriculum outcomes.

Following completion, the researcher would like 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. Camera equipment will be donated to the school following completion of the project.

A presentation will be made to Chief and Council upon return to incorporate further feedback and suggestions. A community open house is also proposed. On-going presentations to the community and dissemination meetings will be held in the community throughout the project. When results become available, a brochure/pamphlet or brief will be prepared and made available to any interested community members and copies given to community organizations and the local schools. Research briefs will be prepared and made available via local organizations following each field work session. On-going presentations will be made to Chief and Council as set forth by the research agreement between the researcher and DKFN.

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 January 1, 2011 to December 30, 2011.