Land-based Initiatives in Canada's North: Moving towards cross-cultural understanding of the importance and meaning of on-the-land trips

Regions: Gwich'in Settlement Area, Sahtu Settlement Area, Dehcho Region, North Slave Region, South Slave Region

Tags: social sciences, wellness, aboriginal community

Principal Investigator: Redvers, Jennifer M (1)
Licence Number: 15663
Organization: University of Calgary
Licenced Year(s): 2015
Issued: Apr 30, 2015

Objective(s): To contribute to a cross-cultural understanding of facilitating modern day on-the-land trips for related social, environmental, health and wellness outcomes in Canada's north.

Project Description: The objective of the project is to contribute to a cross-cultural understanding of the value and role of facilitating modern day on-the-land trips for related social, environmental, health and wellness outcomes in Canada's north. The results of this study will inform the future development of Land-based initiatives, through providing a better understanding of their current scope, practice, and importance for Aboriginal people in northern Canada. Specifically this research aims to present a rich narrative account of land-based programs, as practiced by individuals on the ground in various communities. The underlying research question is: What is the meaning of Land-based health and wellness in the context of how it is being practiced on-the-ground by key individuals in Aboriginal communities in the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut?

An Indigenous research methodology will be used for this research. An Indigenous research approach aims to frame research from an Indigenous epistemological base, recognizing common values and belief systems of Indigenous people internationally. The research methods are appropriate in the context of the individuals and communities which the proposed research will take place, and are qualitative in nature.

The principal investigator will specifically employ a holistic, social-ecological conceptualization and understanding of health, which includes aspects of environmental health, social factors, spirituality, and cultural continuity. Narrative analysis will be utilized, which is convergent with Indigenous traditions, for understanding and documenting the meaning and practice of Land-based initiatives from around Northern Canada, as informed by Indigenous practitioners who have personal experience in their conceptualization and organization.

Collection Protocol
The goal is to interview 10-12 First Nations, Inuit, and/or Métis individuals from across the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and the Yukon, who are currently working in the development or organization of on-the-land trips. These experts will be identified through professional networks, and by contacting various northern Land-based organizations. Most interviews will take place in Whitehorse, Yellowknife, and Iqaluit; as well as smaller centers, depending on individual recruitment, logistical arrangements, and costs of travel.

Data Collection
Semi-directed interviews will consist of 10 open-ended questions focusing on the individual’s personal and professional experiences. Interviews will be flexible. The interview will take about an hour and will be conducted in English. Interviews will be audio recorded, and transcribed into written transcripts. No visual recordings will be taken. Audio recordings and transcripts will be given to each individual to look at and verify and edit as desired. Themes will be taken from the written literature as well as the oral interviews. Key narratives will be kept intact as much as possible throughout the academic thesis. Participants can request complete anonymity during and after the interviews and in any future publications or sharing of data.

Data uses and storage
Non-finalized transcripts and confidential identifier information will be kept in a password protected computer by the researcher or in paper copy under lock and key. If local organizations are interested in the final transcripts or audio recordings for archival or sharing purposes after the research is completed this is an option.

Interviews will be conducted by the principal researcher who is also a Northwest Territories resident. Local Northwest Territories residents will be interviewed about their own personal life and professional experiences, which will provide them with an opportunity to express their viewpoints within a wider audience. Cross-cultural knowledge sharing would benefit local on-the-land projects with knowledge translation useful within western-based funding and policy arenas.

A plain language report will be produced after the publication of the academic thesis (which will be available through the University of Calgary library). This plain language report will be for distribution throughout community and professional networks in Nunavut, Yukon, and the Northwest Territories. The researcher will also return to present the results publically in all of the communities visited during the project, and will share all the final results with the key informants personally, as well as accept any other offers to present publicly or speak to various organizations in the NWT. The principal researcher will continue to build on any relationships developed from the project and continue to make the Northwest Territories her home.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from April 30, 2015 to June 30, 2015.