Pilot Project to assess climate change vulnerability of Tuktut Nogait National Park through Aboriginal Knowledge

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region, Sahtu Settlement Area

Tags: social sciences, climate change, traditional knowledge

Principal Investigator: March, Maya (1)
Licence Number: 15979
Organization: Parks Canada Agency
Licensed Year(s): 2016
Issued: Nov 17, 2016
Project Team: Jonah Nakimayak (Member, Aboriginal Knowledge Working Group), Ruben Green (Member, Aboriginal Knowledge Working Group), Tina Esau (Member, Aboriginal Knowledge Working Group), Bill Kudlak (Member, Aboriginal Knowledge Working Group), Maya March (Staff, Parks Canada Agency), Tracey Wolki (Staff, Parks Canada Agency), Paul Zorn (Staff, Parks Canada Agency), Al Douglas (Staff, MIRARCO), Paul Gray (Independent, Freelance researcher), Delia Siivola (Staff, Parks Canada Agency)

Objective(s): To collect Aboriginal knowledge for a climate change vulnerability assessment project for Tuktut Nogait National Park.

Project Description: The immediate goal and objective of the project is to collect Aboriginal knowledge for a climate change vulnerability assessment project for Tuktut Nogait National Park.

Travellers, outfitters and hunters have been making observations in Tuktut Nogait National Park as part of their regular travel and activities in the park. Their recent observations will be discussed with members of the Aboriginal Knowledge Working Group during interviews. Members of the Aboriginal Knowledge Working Group will be conducting the community interviews and also share their own observations.

The plan is for travellers, outfitters, hunters and members of the Aboriginal Knowledge Working Group to share information with each other through discussion based interviews and to ask each other questions to gain a better understanding of the current state of the park’s ecosystems/environment and how it compares with past observations. There may be a general community meeting held to review findings, provide additional information and provide input before a final product is produced.

Based on advice from the Aboriginal Knowledge Working Group, a questionnaire has been developed to be used to guide the interviews or meetings and assist with stimulating discussion.

The knowledge being shared by travellers, outfitters, hunters, and members of the Aboriginal Knowledge Working Group will be recorded (audio and written recordings) by Parks Canada. The consent of all participants will be requested first before recording starts. Participants will have the option to refuse to be recorded. If participants prefer to be interviewed in a language other than English, arrangements will be made for interpretation or translation as necessary.

Parks Canada will make interview materials accessible to the public. This includes community members, visitors, Parks Canada staff and contractors, journalists and researchers. This means words could be published by a person or organization other than Parks Canada. This is clearly identified in the consent forms.

Information recorded will be used in Parks Canada reports and educational products. It may also be used to develop a protocol for long-term monitoring or study of the park’s ecosystems and environment through Aboriginal knowledge.

Local involvement drives the project and is key to its success. Central to this is the approach that communities (Déline and Paulatuk) are only involved upon their interest level and to the degree that they see fit. Local involvement and how it unfolds drives the methods of the project, a fundamental component which is deemed most meaningful for the learning and sharing of Aboriginal knowledge.

Following communications with each community, their involvement is laid out as they have requested and may be modified depending on their advice. In Déline communications with the Chief directed the project to the Déline Land Corporation, which has decided not to identify community participants for the project at this time and instead have chosen that their community wishes to engage through regular updates to the Déline Land Corporation on the progress of the project. There is an open invitation for the community of Déline to amend their participation at any time they best see fit, in whatever way they deem most appropriate.

In Paulatuk communications with the Paulatuk Hunters’ and Trappers’ Committee led to the identification of five local community members deemed knowledge holders and indicated to participate in an Aboriginal Knowledge Working Group created to provide advice and recommendations on the key issues, focus and methods of the project.

As the project progresses, local recommendations will drive the direction of the work. In summary, benefits include but are not limited to: 1) social benefits through the product of the project providing information that will better enable climate change preparedness in the community at a local level; 2) cultural benefits through the sharing and preservation of Aboriginal knowledge; 3) educational benefits through the experience of members as researchers developing and conducting methods and providing advice and input on results; and, 4) economic by means of honoraria for participation in the working group, participation of community members, hunters and travellers in interviews.

The proposed project will pave the way for determining a long-term method for the meaningful engagement of Aboriginal knowledge with Tuktut Nogait National Park in the future. At the same time, information from this proposed project will also contribute to a climate change vulnerability assessment which will benefit the communities of Paulatuk and Déline in their preparedness for possible future climate-related changes, based on examination of themes identified as important by the working group itself. Finally, communities constantly express interest in summarizing existing Aboriginal knowledge, especially from elders who may not be with us an extended period of time. This proposed project will benefit the communities of Paulatuk and Déline by providing an opportunity to collate some of that knowledge for the use of future generations as the communities see fit.

Parks Canada will make interview materials accessible to the public. This includes community members, visitors, Parks Canada staff and contractors, journalists and researchers. This means words could be published by a person or organization other than Parks Canada. Information recorded will be used in Parks Canada reports and educational products which are shared in communities and more broadly.

Based on the advice of the Aboriginal Working Group and Déline Land Corporation, at the end of the project it is likely that a community event or meeting will be held to present the final product. A copy of any summary documentation for the project will be provided to community organizations for public use and reference.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from November 18, 2016 to December 31, 2016.