Lands, Lakes and Livelihoods: women’s subsistence fishing in Paulatuk, NT

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region

Tags: social sciences, fish, anthropology, traditional knowledge, ethnography, women

Principal Investigator: Todd, Zoe SC (4)
Licence Number: 14978
Organization: University of Aberdeen
Licenced Year(s): 2012 2011
Issued: Nov 25, 2011
Project Team: Anne Thrasher (Research Collaborator, Paulatuk Elders Committee)

Objective(s): To study how people fish in Paulatuk today, how people talk about fishing and how fishing was practiced and characterised in the past.

Project Description: The researcher will study how people fish in Paulatuk today, how people talk about fishing and how fishing was practiced and characterized in the past. The researcher hypothesizes that detailed ethnographic research on contemporary women’s subsistence practices, alongside an examination of historical fishing practices in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, can provide insight into contemporary relationships between people and the environment and inform anthropological discourse on women’s harvesting activity in arctic Canada.

This project involves anthropological fieldwork, which will allow for more focused research on community and family relationships over the period of 12 months. The following methods will be employed: 1) participant observation, 2) apprenticeship (ie: fishing with individuals and families in the community), 3) oral history interviews and 4) archival research on documents and oral history narratives that pertain to subsistence fishing in the region.

The researcher will work with local research assistants to gather stories and information about Paulatukmiut fishing activities in the past and the present. The researcher is interested in sharing information gathered from this project locally, also to work closely with community members to ensure that the project meets community interests and needs. There is an opportunity to involve youth in the project through a 'Fishing Story' dimension of the research, in which the researcher will work with local residents to gather and share 'fishing stories' (and/or art) through local media and at local venues. The research team will be working in the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre together to ensure that archival work is contextualized and shared effectively between the research team and the community. The researcher also plans to do some work at the Inuvialuit Cultural Resource Centre in 2012 to contextualize the project with resources at the Centre (in consultation with the Centre). Gathering information about the relationships between local fishing and environmental, social and cultural dimensions of the community will allow for the establishment of qualitative baseline data about human-environment relationships for the community to use in future socio-economic impact assessments. The researcher will be able to hire two local research assistants, an Inuvialuktun teacher from the community and maybe a local translator when transcribing audio recordings for this project.

The researcher will live in the community throughout most of 2012, and plan to share research findings through regular meetings, a 'Fishing Story' project with the local radio station and school, and through posters and written reports to be shared as the project progresses. The final thesis will be shared with the community and where possible and other local research assistants will be involved in the writing of articles based on project findings.


The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from December 1, 2011 to December 17, 2011.