Land-based Learning in Teetl’it Zheh: A University-Community Bush Camp Partnership

Regions: Gwich'in Settlement Area

Tags: social sciences, education

Principal Investigator: Gaudry, Adam (1)
Licence Number: 16170
Organization: University of Alberta
Licenced Year(s): 2017
Issued: Aug 31, 2017
Project Team: Isabel Altamirano-Jimenez (Research Team Member, University of Alberta), Liza Piper (Research Team Member, University of Alberta), Shalene Jobin (Research Team Member, University of Alberta), Elaine Alexie (Research Team Member-Community Liasion, University of Alberta), Wanda Pascal (Community Team Member-Chief, Tetl'it Gwich'in Council), Sarah Jerome (Community Team Member-Elder), Lianne Charlie (Research Team Member, Yukon College)

Objective(s): To establish a community bush camp school as a site to renew Gwich’in land-based activities.

Project Description: The objectives of this project is to establish a community bush camp school as a site to renew Gwich’in land-based activities. This bush camp school will provide a critical land-based education for Gwich’in youth, guided by elders, where learning activities will be overseen by traditional Gwich’in governance.

The project will incorporate a decolonial research methodology that will center Teetl'it Gwich'in Knowledge. The research will involve community 'visioning' meetings, or focus groups; and voluntary participant interviews, where they are openly public to the community to participate and can withdraw their participation at any time. The focus groups sessions will be centered within the community and will be open to the public. The voluntary participant interviews will be at the consent of the participant, where they will be given the option to be identified or not during the dissemination process of compiled information collected. The focus group session will focus on community envisioning of what a completed bush camp will look like, thus assisting to help build the project. The focus of the individual interviews will be to identify themes in which to build a curriculum for the land based learning, provided the insight and direction of the interviews of the individual participants.

The community visioning meeting (focus group) will take place in a public space accessible to community members, individual interviews will be at the direction of the participant at their preferred location. Both the visioning meeting and individual interviews will both be recorded through note taking and audio methods. Individual interviews will be able to decline to be recorded if they prefer to.

The main outcome of this research project is to build a bush camp for Teetl'it Gwich'in to share land based skills and knowledge by ensuring intergenerational knowledge transfer. The project will produce extra-curricular documents for the camp based on the knowledge shared with the research team in order to run the camp. The legacy of this project will be this camp as a site of cultural renewal which is important to the community.

Many of the participants will be directly involved in the formation of the camp and curricular documents and so on-going communication with community participants will be part of the process. The research team will recruit participants for the visioning meeting through the circulation of fliers in English and Gwich'in, through the community radio station CBQM, and through word of mouth based on community contacts and research team members. The research team will attempt to recruit a diversity of people for this meeting to assure that all ages, genders, and life experiences are represented. From this visioning meeting, the research team will work with community members to form a community council to support the project in identifying the relevant elders for interviews and to ensure that skill sets, genders, and families are represented as evenly as possible. There are also a number of key elders who have expressed interest in being involved since the announcement of the research funding. Camp participants will be recruited through flier/radio/word of mouth in the same fashion as the visioning meeting. The research team will also work with the community council, the community school, and community youth organizations to identify interested youth to participate in the camp.

The final results will be shared at a special presentation to the community, where community feedback and confirmation will be sought. Final results will be deposited with the Gwich'in Tribal Council's Department of Cultural Heritage, Teetl'it Gwich'in First Nation, and when possible on the project's website. Since many of the project's deliverables are geared to the community, the team wish to ensure community access to all applicable materials.

Post project, the research team plan on keeping informed with community activities relating to the bush camp site and hope to continue building and contributing to future curriculum work with the community.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from September 1, 2017 to December 31, 2017.