Using Inuvialuit and Gwich'in observations to monitor environmental change in the Beaufort Delta Region

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region, Gwich'in Settlement Area

Tags: social sciences, aboriginal community, traditional knowledge, environmental change

Principal Investigator: Lantz, Trevor C. (24)
Licence Number: 16274
Organization: University of Victoria
Licenced Year(s): 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011
Issued: Mar 16, 2018

Objective(s): To work with Inuvialuit and Gwich’in experts to document and share local observations of environmental conditions.

Project Description: The core objective of this research is to work with Inuvialuit and Gwich’in experts to document and share local observations of environmental conditions. Over time this will build a record of observations, against which future changes can be compared. To document local observations this research will employ methods including participatory photo-mapping, participatory-video, web-based mapping, photo-elicitation interviews, and field based video-interviews.

This research will employ participatory multimedia mapping (PMM) techniques to integrate digital video and photography with field interviews with local experts. PMM combines participatory photography and video, web-based mapping, and lived experience interviews to capture the participant’s experience out on the land in the Beaufort Delta Region. The PMM protocol was developed and tested in 2010. It successfully recorded local observations grounded in traditional knowledge, and linked these observations of disturbances and anomalous environmental conditions with geo-referenced photos, which were entered into a web-based map. From 2010-2017, the protocol has been implemented by Inuvialuit and Gwich’in monitors in Inuvik, Aklavik, Tuktoyaktuk, and Fort McPherson.

In 2018, the research team will continue to implement our PMM protocol in the Mackenzie Delta Region and expand the project to Banks Island. Specifically, the team will use semi-structured interviews and land-based observation to document environmental conditions with photographs, and videos georeferenced using Global Positioning System (GPS) units. Semi-structured interviews will also be conducted with Gwich’in cultural resource experts to explore the potential use of Geographic Information Systems to document the impacts of disturbance on cultural resources.

This project explores environmental changes identified by community members, and will provide the opportunity for local youth and elders to spend time together out on the land, which will contribute to relationship building, knowledge sharing, and skill-building. This work will also build local capacity to understand and monitor environmental change. As a part of this research youth will have the opportunity to learn about local environmental impacts and gain technical skills (digital photography and video, GPS, and mapping). By facilitating the recording, and documenting local experts’ knowledge and observations of environmental conditions, it will help youth to develop the ability to facilitate ongoing monitoring. Interviews exploring a GIS-based spatial analysis of the overlap between cultural resources and environmental disturbances in the Gwich’in Settlement Region will also be conducted with five or six Gwich’in cultural resource experts to share their knowledge of cultural resource management. This research will also improve the understanding of the ecological and social consequences of northern environmental change and potential impacts upon cultural resources.

One of the methods used in this research is called participatory multimedia mapping (PMM), a method that combines monitoring activities with other community-driven goals such as spending time out on the land, capacity building, and knowledge transfer between youth and community knowledge holders.

Whenever possible, the research team will present project findings at research meetings in the Beaufort Delta Region (Inuvik Research Days, Gwich’in Water Summit, Cumulative Impacts Monitoring Program Results Meetings etc.). Plain language project deliverables, including short reports and presentation, will be made available to participants and interested community members.

The research team will use a web-based map to organize and communicate the observations made by local experts. By recording local observations and organizing them in a community map this project will make the knowledge of local land users accessible (http://inuvialuit.kwusen.com/ and http://gwichin.kwusen.com/).

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from March 16, 2018 to December 31, 2018.