Human Dimensions of a Thawing Landscape
Principal Investigator: Strickert, Graham (3)
Licence Number: 15874
Organization: Yukon College and University of Saskatchewan
Licenced Year(s): 2018 2017 2016
Issued: Apr 28, 2016
Project Team: Dr. Fabrice Calmels (Co-investigator, Yukon College), Dr. Curtis Collins (Co-investigator, Yukon College), Dr. Scott Bell (Co-investigator, University of Saskatchewan)

Objective(s): To advance understanding about how existing knowledge (e.g. social and biophysical science products and ancestral and local knowledge) can be used to meet the needs of communities to develop climate adaptation strategies.

Project Description: The purpose of the research is to advance understanding about how existing knowledge (e.g. social and biophysical science products and ancestral and local knowledge) can be used to meet the needs of communities to develop climate adaptation strategies. Researchers seek to answer the questions: “How can biophysical and social science products combine to meet the needs of northern Aboriginal communities?” and “How are the traditional land uses of the Jean Marie River First Nation and the Vuntut Gwich’in First Nation affected by climate change and a thawing landscape?”

Researchers will work together with community members to identify the most important social and biophysical information that has been collected to date in Old Crow, YT and Jean Marie River, NWT. Science outputs, such as maps, photographs, stories, report results and modeling efforts will be presented to communities in the form of multimedia art pieces. These will be co-created by students from the Yukon School of Visual Arts (SOVA), Elders from Old Crow and Jean Marie River, and scientists from the Northern Climate ExChange and the University of Saskatchewan. The electronic story boards use still photos; short video and audio clips embedded in a blog so community participants can learn and comment on the changes occurring in their territory.

Communities will then choose relevant science products and a social science method to be used together for climate change adaptation planning. Communities will work with the project team to identify community concerns related to landscape change and identify potential adaptation options. The project will co-develop a process for incorporating Traditional Knowledge and western science into northern Aboriginal community planning.

Stage 1: Cataloguing of existing social and bio-physical science products.
During stage 1 an inventory of existing social and biophysical science products from Vuntut Gwich’in First Nation and Jean Marie River First Nation will be created. Social products include: previous interviews, focus groups, and survey data about traditional land uses. Traditional land use data include: place names, camps, cabins, routes, kill sites, location of big and small game, gathering areas, fishing spots and trap lines. The biophysical products include extensive field studies on permafrost at specific locations, remote sensing information (e.g. map layers) and model outputs. Map layers include permafrost, hazards, and geology. Model outputs include regional atmospheric, temperature and precipitation models. Coordinators will work with the social science research team and physical scientists to identify the science products that will be converted into art pieces by fine arts students from SOVA with direction from Elders and local artists.

Stage 2: Planning the Art Pieces that combine Science and Traditional Knowledge (Workshop 1)
A workshop in Dawson City will be held at the Yukon School of Visual Arts. The workshop will take the artists through the process to plan how they will combine Science and Traditional Knowledge into art pieces and how they will capture information during the community visits.

Stage 3: Creating Art Pieces (Researchers/Artists visit Communities)
Art pieces will be created while SOVA students and researchers will visit the communities of Old Crow and Jean Marie River. Students will present their work plans to the communities during a community meeting at the beginning of the visit, so that the community can provide feedback and suggestions for their plans to capture the changes occurring in the community. Community members will also be called upon to recommend suitable places for the students to film and photograph as well as people to interview for their art pieces.

Stage 4: Follow Up Workshop in Communities (Workshop 2)
A workshop will be held in each community to put into action the social science method(s) and products that the community chose. The workshop will help to identify concerns around landscape change and adaptation strategies. Researchers will work with community coordinators in Old Crow and Jean Marie in preparation for the workshop to co-develop methodological approaches.

Stage 5: Knowledge Mobilization and Triangulation
Stage 5 will consist of presentations of the results back to the community at a community meeting. There will be two streams of results: 1) adaptations strategies to permafrost thaw, and 2) evaluating the research design (including the social science methods) to gather said results. Feedback on the evaluative methods and the process will be sought.

Stage 6: Research Co-Production
A final summary of each of the two streams of results will be developed and the findings of the project will be discussed during a project team meeting in Whitehorse. Based on the results of the phases above, an evidence-informed process for incorporating western science and Traditional Knowledge into Aboriginal planning using arts-based processes to support decision making will be put forward.

Stage 7: Wider Dissemination
The research team will prepare manuscripts, conference presentations and papers, modules for graduate and undergraduate coursework, and other materials as laid out in the knowledge mobilization plan.

The project will be conducted in collaboration with the community of Jean Marie River, NWT. The Resources Management Coordinator (RMC) for the Jean Marie River First Nation, is a co-investigator on the project and will work with the Project Team to ensure the project is benefiting the Jean Marie River First Nation and that the community is participating in a meaningful way. The RMC will participate in the selection of science products in consultation with community members and will help to identify community artists and Elders to work with art students from Yukon College during the science to art workshop. The RMC will also help to coordinate the community workshops, including recruiting local participants, catering and logistical support.

A workshop will be held in the final year of the project to communicate the results with the community. Communications will also be ongoing throughout the project and community members from Jean Marie River will co-develop the research with the project team. A blog will be used as a communication tool for the community and project team members throughout the project.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from April 27, 2016 to December 10, 2016.