Inuvialuit Perspectives of Polar Bear Population Health and Harvest Sustainability

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region

Tags: traditional knowledge, wildlife, culture, harvest, polar bear

Principal Investigator: Slavik, Daniel VW (3)
Licence Number: 14475
Organization: University of Alberta, Dept. of Rural Economy
Licensed Year(s): 2010 2009 2008
Issued: Feb 20, 2009

Objective(s): The objectives of this research are to 1) document Inuvialuit knowledge, perspectives, and observations of factors that influence polar bears population health on Banks Island and in the Beaufort Region; and 2) explore how traditional knowledge, community observations, scientific studies, and other information interact to inform hunters about sustainable harvest levels of polar bears.

Project Description: This licence is being issued for the scientific research application no. 1024.

The objectives of this research are to 1) document Inuvialuit knowledge, perspectives, and observations of factors that influence polar bears population health on Banks Island and in the Beaufort Region; and 2) explore how traditional knowledge, community observations, scientific studies, and other information interact to inform hunters about sustainable harvest levels of polar bears.

The researcher will travel by air to Sachs Harbour via Inuvik in late February 2009. Community-based research will occur over 2-3 months in the communities of Sachs Harbour and Inuvik. The proposed social sciences research will combine traditional knowledge research methods with community-approved methods, and will involve community-based participatory research, group discussions, and semi-directed interviews with 12-15 locally recognized experts and knowledge holders identified by the IGC, Sachs Harbour HTC, and Community Steering Committee. Interviews in the community and “on-the-land” will be documented on video to capture the Inuvialuit perspective of polar bear population health and harvest sustainability, with the active participation of a local youth assisting in filming and interviewing.

After voluntarily agreeing to participate and signing the consent form, the researcher will conduct one-on-one or group interviews with the participants. The research assistant will operate the video camera and take notes while the researcher lead’s the open-ended, semi-directed interview. A follow-up workshop will take place 5-6 months after initial fieldwork, the researcher will return to the community to host a workshop with the steering committee and research participants. The purpose is to verify the findings and accuracy of the draft report, add missing information (or remove information the publication of which might harm individual/community interests), and share the “rough-cut” of the video for community feedback.

After fieldwork is concluded, the community has verified the data, and provided input into the video, the researcher will work to write their thesis, with a strong focus on the video component as a deliverable of the project and thesis. After completion and defense of the thesis in October 2009, the researcher will communicate findings to the academic community with the support of the community.

Inuvialuit communities have identified the importance of providing training and research assistant opportunities to youth. This research will employ one youth research assistant from Sachs Harbour to assist in conducting and videotaping interviews. The researcher will also provide the youth with some training in social science research and film-making. Sachs Harbour will own the video and all footage produced from this research, and will be recognized as a co-producer of the video. As a deliverable of this research, the community will have a copy of the video thesis to use for cultural and educational purposes.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted in Sachs Harbour and Inuvik from February 28 to October 19, 2009.