Geographic Information Science (GIS) as a Health Communication Tool for Consultation with Stakeholders in Environmental Assessment of the Nico Project in the Tlicho Region, Northwest Territories
Principal Investigator: McGetrick, Jennifer Ann (2)
Licence Number: 15242
Organization: School of Public Health, University of Alberta
Licensed Year(s): 2014 2013
Issued: May 09, 2013
Project Team: Dr. David Hik (Co-supervisor, School of Public Health, University of Alberta)

Objective(s): To evaluate the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) as a health communication tool for consultation with stakeholders in environmental assessment of the Nico Project in the Tlicho Region of the Northwest Territories.

Project Description: The overall objective of the research is to evaluate the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) as a health communication tool for consultation with stakeholders in environmental assessment of the Nico Project in the Tlicho Region of the Northwest Territories. By documenting stakeholder's evaluation of GIS in the environmental assessment, the research will help to inform best practices and procedures for communicating about health impacts in future environmental assessments, and promote meaningful consultation during regulatory approvals for possible natural resource developments.

This research will aim to answer the following questions:
1) how participants define the concept of health in relation to the Nico Project environmental assessment;
2) how participants think that health will be positively or negatively impacted by the Nico Project,
3) whether the participants think that the appropriate concept of health was considered in the environmental assessment;
4) whether the participants considered GIS maps to be an effective way of communicating health issues during the environmental assessment; and
5) whether participants think GIS is an effective way of monitoring any health impacts from the Nico Project.

The researcher will conduct semi-structured interviews with stakeholders in the Nico environmental assessment including the Tlicho Government, Tlicho community members, the Government of the Northwest Territories, the Government of Canada (Environment Canada, Transport Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans), Fortune Minerals, Golder Associates, the North Slave Metis Alliance, the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, the Wek'eezhii Land and Water Board, the Wek'eezhii Renewable Resources Board, and the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board.

The number of interviews that are anticipated ranges from 15 to 30 participants.

Participants will be identified from the public record of the Nico environmental assessment as well as through "snowball sampling", and recruited by means of a Letter of Initial Contact, an Information and Informed Consent Form, and the Interview Guide.

Participants will have ample time to review the materials, or can discuss the information with the researcher with the option of Tlicho translation. Informed consent will be obtained from research participants with a signed consent form, and interviewees will be informed that they can choose not to answer questions or to stop the interview at any time without providing a reason.

The interview guides will be based on findings from two earlier research undertakings, a pilot study of GIS and circumpolar health expert interviews, and content analysis of the public record for the Nico Project and Prairie Creek mine environmental assessments.

Interviews will primarily be conducted onsite in Behchoko and Yellowknife in English and Tlicho. With the informed consent of participants, the interviews will be audio recorded. Tlicho interviews will be translated in collaboration with local community members working as research assistants.

The interviews will be transcribed, and verified transcripts will be returned to the participants with an opportunity to review and revise their interview responses. Participants may withdraw consent for participation or revise their responses within four weeks of receiving their transcripts. Upon the withdrawal of consent, all data documenting participants' participation in the study will be destroyed.

With participants' approval of the transcripts, the transcripts will then be qualitatively analysed using NVivo software, and quantitatively analysed using WordStat software.

Following the qualitative and quantitative analysis process, a summary of results will be provided to the research participants for approval and review comments. All input at this time will be incorporated into the research results.

Pending community interest, communication materials and research outputs such as plain language reports, presentations, posters, and co-authored publications will be prepared.

Knowledge translation for the research project will consist of collaboration with stakeholders to finalize the results of the research, and the presentation of these results to all parties in the environmental assessment. Research results will be provided by email to participants prior to submitting any materials for academic examination or publication, and participants will have an opportunity to review and revise these materials. Thus, knowledge translation for the research project will have social, cultural, educational, and economic benefits as the results are returned to the stakeholders for their evaluation, dissemination, and preferred use.

The results of the study will be communicated in three ways:

1) Individuals who participate in the research will receive their transcripts and a summary of results by email or mail as soon as verification and analysis is complete.

2) Stakeholders organizations that have been involved in the research from the time of providing a Letter of Support for this application will receive a summary of the results by email, and may request additional materials including plain language reports, presentations, posters, and co-authored publications.

3) Regional stakeholder organizations not involved in the research will be notified of the research by letter as soon as the analysis is complete and may request a summary of results, plain language reports, presentations, posters, and co-authored publications.

The researcher will travel to Yellowknife and Behchoko in September 2013 to meet with interested stakeholders, disseminate results, and plan further application of the research results.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from May 20, 2013 to September 10, 2013.