Content related to: Indigenous knowledge
To provide essential knowledge for improving woodland caribou recovery plans, the Canadian Forest Service initiated an integrative research project in collaboration with the Pessamit Innu community (QC North Shore). This community is very concerned about caribou and has carefully monitored populations across their ancestral territory, the nitassinan, in recent years
The project has six interrelated components that integrate science and indigenous knowledge:
Mobilizing scientific and indigenous knowledge and add the community’s perspective to inform the North Shore caribou recovery plan
Prediction of disturbance, climate change and forest management impacts on caribou habitat quality
A decision support tool for caribou and its habitat in northern Ontario
Development of genomic tools to characterize the caribou diet and microbiome from feces
Assessing the potential of caribou as an umbrella species for maintaining biodiversity
Assessing food habitat quality of different forest types
In order to better understand Inuit relationships to the Mealy Mountain (MM) herd, the long-term impacts of the hunting ban, and strategies for caribou management moving forward, this research examines the relationship between Rigolet Inuit and MM caribou. The main goal of this research was to determine community priorities for the research, monitoring, and management of the MM caribou, by documenting Inuit values, with the intent of enhancing the management system.
This research used a qualitative case study approach, following the principles of Inuit-led research as outlined in the National Inuit Strategy on Research. Data were collected through: a community open house and participatory mapping session, where people shared photos, stories, thoughts, and geographic references to where MM caribou herds are still being seen; semi-structured conversational interviews with 21 people from Rigolet (total interview time: 11h09). Interviews were conducted by local researchers and a graduate student. All interviews were recorded, with consent, and transcribed. Transcripts were imported into NVivo 12 software and coded inductively to facilitate additional annotations, word searches, memo writing, data visualizations, and reflections. Using a constant comparative method, the research team also held regular debriefs and teleconferences to talk about co-analyze the data.
Preliminary results of the research demonstrate a wealth of Inuit knowledge about the MM herd. The research highlights the loss of an important country food and a risk to cultural continuity by a long-standing hunting ban; the ways in which a lack of quality research led to questions about decision-making; and the lack of inclusion of Inuit rights or knowledge when management decisions were made. Research participants indicated a strong sense of not being heard by decision-makers. Moving forward, Inuit from Rigolet indicated the need to re-connect to the MM caribou through land-based initiatives and ongoing monitoring, as well as identified the need for Inuit to be more involved in, and lead, conservation and monitoring efforts. This research provides ideas and opportunities for potential interventions in the future that may strengthen cultural ties, stewardship, and enhanced levels of health equity between Indigenous peoples in the region.