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: 16496
Organization: University of Victoria
Licenced Year(s): 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011
Issued: Feb 07, 2019
Project Team: Trevor Lantz (Project Coordinator, University of Victoria), Tracy Proverbs (Student Researcher, University of Victoria), Alexander Chila (Student Researcher, University of Victoria), Karen Dunmall (Project Researcher, DFO), Darcy McNicholl (Project Researcher, DFO), Vanessa Cunningham (Community Liason, FJMC), Amy Amos (Project Liaison, GRRB), Sharon Snowshoe (Project Liaison, GTC), Thomas Campbell (Student Researcher, University of Victoria)

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 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 2010-2018, the protocol has been implemented by Inuvialuit and Gwich’in monitors in Inuvik, Aklavik, Tuktoyaktuk, and Fort McPherson.

In 2019, interviews will focus on changes in water levels and traditional knowledge about Pacific salmon species. Specifically, the research team will use semi-structured interviews and, where possible, land-based observation to document environmental conditions with photographs, and videos georeferenced using GPS units.

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 of local experts’ knowledge and observations of environmental conditions, it will will help youth develop the ability to facilitate ongoing monitoring. 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.

The research team will communicate the results of the research on an ongoing basis by providing plain language summaries to the Hunters and Trappers Committees and Renewable Resource Councils (HTCs / RRCs) in each community the team works in. Plain language deliverables will also be made available to interested community members and schools. The research team will continue to provide periodic oral presentations at the regular meetings of regional co-management organizations (Inuvialuit Game Council, Gwich'in Renewable Resource Board, Fisheries Joint Management Committee). When there is interest, the team will also give oral presentations to HTCs / RRCs. Members of my research group will also continue to deliver public presentations at the Western Arctic Research Centre in Inuvik.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from February 8, 2019 to December 31, 2019.