A Longitudinal Approach to Community Vulnerability and Adaptation to Climate Change

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region

Tags: social sciences, climate change, adaptation planning

Principal Investigator: Pearce, Tristan D (19)
Licence Number: 16235
Organization: University of the Sunshine Coast
Licenced Year(s): 2018 2017 2016
Issued: Feb 10, 2018
Project Team: David Fawcett (Research Associate, University of Guelph, Environmental Change Research Group), Eric Lede (Graduate Student Researcher, University of the Sunshine Coast)

Objective(s): To document current exposure-sensitivities affecting Inuit subsistence hunting and adaptive strategies employed to manage them; 2) to compare current exposure-sensitivities and responses; and 3) to describe the processes and conditions that have aided or constrained adaptation over time.

Project Description: This research aims to examine the processes and dynamism of climate change vulnerability in the Arctic through a longitudinal study in Ulukhaktok, NWT using fieldwork data from both 2005 and 2016. Specific objectives of this research are: 1) to document current exposure-sensitivities affecting Inuit subsistence hunting and adaptive strategies employed to manage them; 2) to compare current exposure-sensitivities and responses with those documented in 2005 (Pearce et al. 2010); and 3) to describe the processes and conditions that have aided or constrained adaptation over time.

Semi-Structured Interviews (approximately 45 minutes) will be conducted with a sample of community members including people based on different ages, genders, and different engagement in livelihood activities. This will also include a portion of those interviewed in 2005. These will be recorded if the interviewee gives permission, or written otherwise. Questions will be open-ended, giving community members the opportunity to share what they think is most relevant to the question, and the questions will focus on experiences with changes in the community and the environment, how these changes affect interviewees, how they have managed or responded to these changes, how these responses have changed over the last 11 years, and what has made these changes easier or more difficult to deal with. In addition to this, the research team has access to sea-ice data that covers the last 11 years from 14 locations around Ulukhaktok. This data will likely be included in interviews, potentially in the form of a map, or maps. Community members, particular elders and active hunters, will have the opportunity to share how access and travel to key hunting locations has changed due to changing sea ice, including what kind of risks have emerged and how they have responded to this. Altogether, the responses from these interviews will be compared to those from 2005 to see how changing environmental and community factors have altered risk and responses by the community and community members.

Participant Observation: the graduate student researcher will live in the community for approximately 8-10 weeks, participating in community life and activities. This could include being a part of community events or taking part in trips on the land to learn more about the lives of people in Ulukhaktok. This will allow the researcher to develop richer connections with community members, and develop a level of understanding that will allow the researcher to ask more culturally appropriate questions and have a better context of data collected during interviews as to better interpret and represent it.

Community-Based Monitoring (CBM): CBM involves the assistance of community members to collect data on a specific topic on a regular basis. In this case a community monitoring team will assist in Ulukhaktok consisting of full-time hunters equipped with GPS units to record their land use from January/February 2018-January/February 2019. This data will then be downloaded onto a computer by a community research partner, who will also ask a series of questions on each hunter's activities bi-weekly. Furthermore, key informants will be recruited to keep diaries of their life in the community, with a specific focus on their land-based activities. During regular visits, the research team will debrief with the monitoring team, hunters, and other key informants on their land-based activities, providing context of the GPS data, interview data, and key informant recordings.

Community partners will be involved throughout the entire research process through early and ongoing communication. This will include input in the design and implementation of the research, including data collection and interpretation, as well as report writing and reporting findings back to the community. A community research partner will assist with data collection and analysis, interpretation, and cultural guidance. This research will provide the potential to build capacity within the community to undertake their own research in the future if they wish to do so. Finally, the findings will be valuable for communication in the NWT, Canada and internationally, so that decision-making regarding climate change adaptation in the NWT and Canada can reflect the needs of people in Ulukhaktok.

Research findings will be communicated in Ulukhaktok and elsewhere in the NWT. The research team will work together with the local research partner and community partners to develop appropriate and effective methods for communicating results. This may include: a plain-language summary report in Inuinnaqtun and English with photos and key findings, household visits to discuss results, updates over local/regional radio broadcasts, and presentations within the community and school.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from February 9, 2018 to July 31, 2018.