Local Food Procurement in Fort Providence, Northwest Territories: Examining Community Resilience and Adaptive Capacity to Environmental Change
Principal Investigator: Ross, Paulina P (1)
Licence Number: 16358
Organization: Thompson Rivers University
Licenced Year(s): 2018
Issued: Jul 11, 2018
Project Team: Paulina Ross (Principal Researcher, Thompson Rivers University), Dr. Courtney Mason (Supervisor, Thompson Rivers University)

Objective(s): To support food security, promote community resilience and encourage adaptive capacity for northern communities.

Project Description: The purpose of this research is to support food security, promote community resilience and encourage adaptive capacity for northern communities. Research outcomes could have potential implications for the community of Fort Providence, as findings will help direct both top-down and bottom-up approaches to local food procurement. Suggested policy recommendations based on community perspectives will help to deconstruct Euro-Canadian centric decision-making around ecological governance, land use, food security and environmental change.

The following critical research questions will be addressed:
1. What are the impacts of climate change on local food systems in Fort Providence?
2. How is climate change affecting the abilities of local Indigenous peoples to acquire foods that are culturally important?
3. What are the barriers to local food procurement?
4. What are the opportunities for developing or expanding local food procurement?
5. What are the environmental, socio-cultural and economic costs of local food procurement?
6. Does local food procurement help increase community adaptive capacity and resilience in the face of environmental changes?

All aspects of this research project will rely on Indigenous Methodology (IM) to foster a collaborative approach that reflects the values and priorities of the community of Fort Providence. This methodological approach will help frame a holistic understanding of the complexities of environmental changes to food security. This part of the research process is critical, as the Principal Investigator (PI) will develop life-long connections with community members. While IM provides guidelines for researchers, it is equally important to tailor a research project to local understandings and values, including expectations of reciprocity held by local Elders and leaders.

IM will direct the choice of specific research methods that will be utilized. This research will employ a mixed-method approach using both secondary sources and primary data. The primary data collection method will include personal interviews conducted with key community members. Interviews will be semi-structured in nature and will consist of ten to fifteen open-ended questions. Interviews will target two different groups, with different sets of expertise, and questions will be tailored accordingly. Interviews will be ½-hour to 1-hour in length and will be conducted one-on-one with the PI. Semi-structured interviews are advantageous to this study as they provide in-depth and highly personalized accounts that will create a rich data set. Non-probability snowball sampling will be used to recruit participants. The first group of interviewees will target local leaders and food procurement stakeholders. As this group is critical in facilitating local food procurement programs and strategies, the objective of interviewing this group is to explore the complex and intersectional barriers of climate related changes to local food systems. The second group of interviewees targets Elders and knowledgeable land-users. This group will provide understandings of ecological and land-based changes which have altered the harvest and procurement of wild foods. The objective of interviewing this group is to document traditional ecological knowledge concerning the impacts of climate change to traditional food sources. Traditional knowledge of the local environment, combined with related skill sets for harvesting, travelling on the land and processing wild foods, are traditional practices necessary for food security, food sovereignty and cultural continuity.

All interviews will be recorded and transcribed verbatim. A translators will be provided upon request. Data collected over the summer field research season will be coded and analyzed to discover reoccurring themes. In addition to being guided by IM, this project will adhere to Tri-Council policies on ethical research with Indigenous communities.

This project will include the immersion of the principal researcher in the community and helping the community conduct local projects and food-related activities. The PI will look to local protocols, recommendations and suggestions for ways in which to give back to the community.

The PI will be returning to the north at a number of different points throughout the year and will be driving to the community of Fort Providence to keep the community updated throughout the course of the research project.

As an integral part of this research project, the community will be held at the center, suggesting that the community will be involved in debriefing and sharing of results and findings. As Indigenous Methodology is the guiding framework for this research project, it comes from a belief that all knowledge is shared and relational. The information collected for this research project will be in the form of stories and personal experiences, and it is vital that all results are shared with the community in order to inform community decisions. As this research focuses on Fort Providence, research outcomes could have potential policy implications for the community, so debriefing the community is a critical aspect.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from July 10, 2018 to September 30, 2018.