Using Traditional Knowledge of JMRFN Elders to better understand changes in the boreal caribou habitat.
Principal Investigator: Laurent, Cyrielle C (3)
Licence Number: 16141
Organization: Yukon College / Yukon Research Centre
Licenced Year(s): 2017
Issued: Jul 12, 2017
Project Team: Margaret Ireland (Project Lead, Jean Marie River First Nation), Alison Perrin (Social Scientist, Yukon Research Centre), Holly Bull (Assistant Researcher, Yukon Research Centre)

Objective(s): To demonstrate the cumulative impact of permafrost degradation and forest fire on boreal caribou habitat and how caribou habitat degradation affects Jean Marie River First Nation.

Project Description: This project aims to demonstrate the cumulative impact of permafrost degradation and forest fire on boreal caribou habitat and how caribou habitat degradation affects Jean Marie River First Nation (JMRFN). To do this the research team will collect and use traditional knowledge (TK), and analyse it in a geographic information system (GIS) with scientific data. The research team expect to locate areas where boreal caribou habitat quality has changed over time and evaluate the current state of health of the boreal caribou habitat. The team will also use traditional knowledge to better understand the context and impacts of those changes.

The method will include four main steps:
1) One-on-one interviews and focus group(s) with Elders and land users to discuss: caribou habitat changes; caribou hunting areas (changes, seasons); caribou population (size, number, health); caribou behavior; and hunting challenges. The interview team will be composed of at least 2 people, one person for note taking and one person for mapping. Youth will receive training for assisting in the interview and focus group process. The research team will build an interview guide customized to meet the objectives and create base maps for the study area to record spatial information.
2. Using maps, TK will be integrated into a GIS and will be added to the existing TK GIS database. Storing TK in databases contributes to its preservation and transmission to future generations and facilitates knowledge exchange with other organizations. The information collected during the project will provide environmental trend information that can be easily incorporated into range management plans, land planning, and decision-making. The research team will make sure that interview methods and protocols comply with existing policies and guidelines for TK studies. The information collected during the interviews and focus group will be transcribed and analyzed for inclusion in the final report.
3. The research team will use existing and newly collected TK data, as well as existing boreal caribou global positioning system collar data, forest fire data, and permafrost data in the GIS analysis. The GIS specialist will perform the required spatial analysis, produce the maps and further develop the database. The GIS analysis will include a comparison of the important past and present hunting areas with the location of thaw-sensitive permafrost areas and burned areas.
4. The final report will include a comprehensive analysis of information from the transcripts and from the GIS database.

This community driven project will involve many JMRFN members. Community meetings will inform the entire community of project progress and results. This project will build long-term community capacity by training two youth to assist with conducting interviews and focus groups. In addition, six to eight Elders and/or land users will be involved in the interview and focus group process. The results of the project will will help the community identify the changes affecting the caribou habitat and bring the community one step closer to developing adaptation strategies to climate change.

Project results will be presented at a community meeting (with plain language presentation, illustrated poster and hand out) in JMRFN and will be published on the JMRFN website, Results will also be presented at Northern meeting (Dehcho First Nation or Dene Nation).

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from July 13, 2017 to August 31, 2017.