Water and Social Well-being in the Northwest Territories
Principal Investigator: Carter, Blair (2)
Licence Number: 15303
Organization: University of Waterloo
Licensed Year(s): 2013
Issued: Aug 01, 2013
Project Team: Community Researcher (Help raising awareness of project in community, setting up community interviews, helping conduct interviews, determining the best way to disseminate study findings to the community , Community of Trout Lake), Interpreter (Translate from Slavey to English for interviews when needed, Community of Trout Lake)

Objective(s): To gain an understanding of the current water resource conditions (e.g., quality and quantity) and contextual circumstances (e.g., community culture, history, traditions) impacting local water use in the Deh Cho Region of the NWT; to translate these understandings into a suite of measures that reflect the myriad ways that people ‘value’ water; and to examine how the identified measures may be relevant to policy and decision making processes in the context of the NWT Water Stewardship Strategy and corresponding Action Plan.

Project Description: Four objectives guide this research: 1) to gain an understanding of the current water resource conditions (e.g., quality and quantity) and contextual circumstances (e.g., community culture, history, traditions) impacting local water use in the Deh Cho Region of the NWT; 2) to use a social well-being lens to unpack values that people associate with water resources in the Region; 3) to translate these understandings into a suite of measures that reflect the myriad ways that people ‘value’ water; and 4) to examine how the identified measures may be relevant to policy and decision making processes in the context of the NWT Water Stewardship Strategy and corresponding Action Plan.

The Principal Investigator (PI) will conduct a review of relevant documents and literature pertaining to the water resource conditions and water resource change affecting local water use in the community of Trout Lake. The goal of the review is synthesize existing information about the water resources impacting the community in order to help build context, to inform and supplement the information gained through other data collection methods, and to help provide a means to more clearly situate the outcomes of the project.

The PI will conduct approximately 25 semi-structured interviews with community members in Trout Lake, NWT to understand the ways in which they value water resources. The interviews will seek to elicit responses about the ways in which participants value (tangible and intangible) and connect to water resources. The purpose of these interviews it to gain an understanding of the role that water plays in the material, relational and subjective dimensions of community members' well-being. An interview guide will be used to prompt discussion around a series of pre-determined open-ended questions, while also allowing adequate space for unanticipated discussions. The interviews will be conducted in person and interview data will be collected through written interview notes and taped audio recordings. Each interview is expected to last an average of 90 minutes. Participant recruitment will be done through the Trout Lake Band council/leadership and with the advice of knowledgeable people within the community and who have worked with the community in the past. A poster will also be placed in the council office and in the community's general store in order to ensure that community members are aware of the project.

The PI will also conduct approximately 15 semi-structured interviews with representatives from a diversity of water policy and decision-making groups in the NWT. These groups include the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT), Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC), the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board (MVLWB), the Aboriginal Aquatic Resource and Oceans Management Program (AAROM), water-related Non-Profit Organizations and NWT water partners involved in the NWT Water Stewardship Strategy (2010). Collectively, these groups reflect a diversity of different water-related decision-making responsibilities throughout the NWT, and thus will help to provide a holistic perspective on how water values are being or could be integrated into water and related-land use decision-making processes in the NWT. The interview questions and discussion will primarily be based around a proposed set of water valuation measures that will be sent to participants in advance of the arranged interview date. The interviews will be conducted either in person or by telephone, and interview data will be collected through written interview notes and taped audio recordings. Each interview is expected to last an average of 90 minutes. As necessary, the PI will use a telephone script to call and recruit potential policy/government participants for the interviews. An initial call will be made to brief potential participants about the project and the nature of the interviews. This initial call will ask potential participants if they are interested in participating in the interviews, and if so, will be sent a follow up email with the information and consent arrangements.
Feedback about the study is anticipated by February 2014. Results and information from the study will be summarized and communicated back to the community during community meetings and through summary reports and posters. A plain language synthesis of the findings will be prepared and made available to interested participants towards the end of the study (April, 2014). The research findings will also likely be communicated through a Master’s thesis, journal articles, book chapters and conference presentations.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from July 31, 2013 to September 30, 2013.