Literature review and interviews: Indigenous ways of knowing boreal caribou populations

Resource Type
Kristi Benson
Janet Winbourne
Resource Date:

Boreal caribou are an important animal for First Nations and Métis communities in almost all regions of the NWT. Hunters and Elders have comprehensive traditional knowledge about past and current caribou populations, movements, health, habitat, and other topics. In many indigenous societies, this type of information is traditionally used in an adaptive management processes. Therefore traditional, community, and indigenous knowledge can be of value for determining wildlife population abundance and trends, among many other topics, and a range of monitoring programs accommodate indigenous people or methods to some degree.

This report reviews approaches to understanding and developing indigenous knowledge and ways of knowing about wildlife populations that could have potential as monitoring methods for boreal caribou populations. It details theoretical and methodological considerations for ENR, who plan on initiating a monitoring program for boreal caribou with NWT communities, and includes a discussion of limitations and challenges. Several northern case studies are presented as examples of monitoring projects that are already underway, and a suite of eight potential monitoring measures or ‘indicators’ are introduced, including a consideration of their possible applicability for boreal caribou. While there is an emphasis on traditional knowledge systems of the north, literature and models for working with indigenous ways of knowing from other parts of the world are also included in this review and report where relevant.