Making a place for Indigenous fishing livelihoods: Navigating cross-scale institutions in Great Slave Lake fishery management

Regions: Dehcho Region, North Slave Region, South Slave Region

Tags: social sciences, traditional knowledge, subsistence, aquatic ecology, fisheries

Principal Investigator: Wray, Kristine E J (3)
Licence Number: 16630
Organization: University of Alberta
Licensed Year(s): 2019
Issued: Oct 21, 2019

Objective(s): To document an oral history of the growth of the commercial fishery from the community perspective; to focus on contemporary knowledge and practices of fishers, will explore commonly-valued and agreed upon indicators of social-ecological change as a method for establishing indicators of fish ecology; and, to considers Dene community knowledge and rights in a multi-level fishery and examines the relationship between relevant stakeholders, knowledge's and decisions made in the Great Slave Lake fishery.

Project Description: This licence has been issued for the scientific research application No.4406.

The research team seeks to document an oral history of the growth of the commercial fishery from the community perspective in terms of four stages: the Dene fishery (up to 1944), the early commercial fishery (1945-1969), federal management by the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation (1970-2018), and the present phase of management restructuring (2010-2020). Focusing on contemporary knowledge and practices of fishers, the team will explore commonly-valued and agreed upon indicators of social-ecological change as a method for establishing indicators of fish ecology. The team considers Dene community knowledge and rights in a multi-level fishery and examines the relationship between relevant stakeholders, knowledge’s and decisions made in the Great Slave Lake fishery.
This project is committed to a collaborative and community-based approach. Decolonizing and indigenous research methodologies inform the research, which is participatory and collaborative and will be guided by an advisory body of elders and fishers.

All objectives involve qualitative semi-structured interviewing as the main tool for data collection. The research team will interview people who are involved in the commercial fishery, elders who are knowledgeable about fishing and who hold the knowledge of the history of the commercial and domestic fishery, women who process fish inside the home, and youth who fish. Interviews, on average, can take 1.5 hours. They will be conducted in the participant’s home, or outside on the land, or wherever the participant feels comfortable. It is the choice of the person interviewed whether the conversation is recorded or not. The interview is conducted in the language of the interviewee’s choice, and a translator can be provided if the interviewee prefers to speak in their aboriginal language. A community research person will assist the team. Interviewees will be found through the Research Assistant, the advisory body, or through word of mouth and by asking each interviewee if they know of anybody else who might like to participate in the project (snowball sampling). In addition, a document review will be done (provincial, territorial and federal archives, and the Freshwater Institute at the University of Manitoba), and participant observation of commercial fishing operations.

The research team will communicate with community partners throughout the remainder of the research planning stage, and the research, analysis, writing, and dissemination stages. Key areas of future collaboration include further refining of the research to coincide with the interests and knowledge needs of the community partners, and consultation with partners on the appropriateness and scope of interview questions. All research participants will receive copies of their interview transcript, verification of transcript contents, and a summary of research findings, including a plain language version. Finally, after the project is completed, a plain language report and a large format poster summarizing the project will be submitted to each participating community.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from October 22, 2019 to December 15, 2019.