Collaborative Research: Food Sovereignty and Self-Governance – Inuit Role in Managing Arctic Marine Resources

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region

Tags: social sciences, traditional food, subsistence, food security

Principal Investigator: Behe, Carolina (3)
Licence Number: 16215
Organization: Inuit Circumpolar Council Alaska
Licensed Year(s): 2019 2018 2017
Issued: Jan 24, 2018

Objective(s): To understand whether and how Inuit self-governance systems support food sovereignty.

Project Description: The objectives of this research project are: to synthesize and evaluate existing legal frameworks for Inuit self-governance reflected in legal authorities in the United States (U.S.) and Canada; to evaluate how existing Inuit self-governance approaches operate in practice by examining four co-management case studies; to understand of the social, political, and institutional parameters affecting implementation of key legal frameworks; and, to evaluate food sovereignty objectives against legal frameworks and implementation of those systems in practice.

The objectives will answer the following four questions:
Which legal structures, designed to promote Inuit self-governance, best support Inuit food sovereignty objectives and resource sustainability? How do existing Inuit self-governance approaches operate in practice? How do Inuit self-governance systems support food sovereignty? What are the differences between the United States/Alaskan and Canadian co-management structures?

Research design approach includes: focus groups, semi-directive interviews, participant observations, archival research, qualitative analysis, one workshop.

The proposed work is based off of four case studies (walrus and salmon in Alaska and char and beluga in Canada). This research project has been designed in collaboration with the Eskimo Walrus Commission (EWC), Association of Village Council Presidents (AVCP), Inuvialuit Game Council (IGC) and the Fisheries Joint Management Committee (FJMC). The board members and/or commissioners of the co-management institutions will be the key participants of the focus groups and take part in semi-directive interviews. The executive members will be involved in identifying additional key informants for semi-directive interviews.

Members of each respective co-management institution have been elected by their geographic area (village and/or community) to represent and speak on behalf of their interests. These will be the people participating in the focus groups. Additional interviews may take place with people chosen by each respective co-management group and/or tribal councils or community leaders. If a tribal council or community leaders are asked to nominate people for semi-directive interviews, they will be asked, by letter, to recommend individuals who possess knowledge about the research topic. The Principal Investigator (PI) and/or the research facilitator/ language translator, research team members from FJMC and/or IGC will then approach individuals to determine interest in participating.

The research team will utilize literature and law review, elicitation techniques and participant observation, obtaining information and the perceptions of Inuit key informants through conversations, semi-structured interviews and focus groups. The interview and analysis process will employ Inuit customs of holding discussions in conjunction with meals and associated activities, and through casual conversations in places selected by the interviewee. The process will ensure sufficient flexibility to conduct individual and/or group interviews.

Interviews will be recorded and transcribed, and notes will be taken. Individual interviews will be transcribed and returned to the informant for final approval, providing an opportunity to delete and/or add information, in accordance with findings from past research describing best practices for Inuit researcher interaction.

This project will document knowledge, experiences, and perspectives about current co-management structures; interpretation and implementation of laws associated with co-management structures. Information gathered will aid in communicating the Inuit worldview and actions within the Arctic environment as it pertains to marine mammal management.

Communication will occur through FJMC and IGC. Additionally information will be provided directly to Ulukhaktok, Paulatuk, and Tuktoyaktuk. All participants in the work will be communicated with directly (their approval of final products is required).

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from March 4, 2018 to July 31, 2018.