Graduate Theses & Dissertations

Role of Policy in Arctic Food (In)Security
Hunger is a significant concern in Canada, and even more so in the North, with 52% of Inuit adults in Arctic regions experiencing some level of food insecurity in 2012. Policy deficiencies are argued to, at the least, be partly responsible for this issue. This qualitative exploratory project aimed to answer the question: What is the role of food-related policy(ies) in household food security? A review and analysis of policy documents and academic literature at three jurisdictional levels, using the case of food insecurity in Nunavik, Québec, was conducted. The study identified 281 policies facilitating and 139 policies acting as barriers to food security. The highest proportion (27%) of facilitators related to economic accessibility of food and the highest proportion of barriers (93%) related to political accessibility of food. Only one previously identified factor influencing household food security in the region had a corresponding policy barrier associated with it. The study suggests that what is considered ‘food policy’ differs significantly between jurisdictions. Many of the same policies that act to facilitate some aspects of food security act as barriers to others. Policy barriers tend to be difficult to identify by their very nature. As a result, policy plays a complicated role in Nunavik food security status, representing a positive influence in some regards and a negative one in others. Author Keywords: Arctic, Food, Food security, Inuit, Nunavik, Policy
Older Voluntarism and Rural Community Sustainability
With regards to building knowledge about rural aging, there is a gap in understanding of the diversity of older rural people’s experiences and the interaction between older rural people and the development trajectories of aging rural communities. One way to examine these experiences and interactions is through voluntarism; the activities of volunteers and voluntary organizations, which are pivotal for supporting aging in place in often-underserviced rural communities. To address this gap, this thesis features a community-based case study with a volunteer-based rural library in Ontario, Canada and was aimed at understanding the experiences of older library volunteers, examining the challenges of a rural library volunteer program and exploring how they contribute to rural community sustainability. Through surveys (n=87), interviews (n=48) and focus groups (n=6) with library volunteers, staff, board members and community leaders the findings demonstrate how older voluntarism is felt through the lived experiences of individual volunteers, poses interpersonal, operational and structural challenges, and can potentially contribute to the sustainability of rural communities. The thesis contributes to our understanding of the rural, older voluntarism and provides recommendations for ways to sustain library volunteer programs. Author Keywords:
Understanding Dimensions of Environmental Sustainability in a Northern Indigenous Context
Although the concept of environmental sustainability has become increasingly popular, the literature offers little practical guidance to direct priorities or actions to support environmental sustainability in northern Indigenous communities. A case study in Hopedale, Nunatsiavut, and a systematic literature review was undertaken to understand: 1) what aspects of the local environment are of value to a northern Indigenous community; and 2) what does existing literature identify as key elements of a community-based approach to monitor valued aspects of the environment in a northern Indigenous context. Hopedale residents spoke to the importance of going off on the land and identified a number of categories of places in their local environment of importance to them, including: 1) valued areas for human-use, 2) areas to protect, 3) areas of environmental concern, and 4) areas to monitor. The systematic literature review highlighted trends on community-based monitoring (CBM) publications, and identified key 13 elements of CBM approaches that are pertinent to northern Indigenous communities. Insights from this study will inform environmental planning and management in the case community of Hopedale, as well as offer guidance to enhance current and future CBM activities in the North and elsewhere. Author Keywords: community-based monitoring, environmental sustainability, Inuit, Labrador, participatory mapping, systematic literature review
Exploring and Evaluating Personal, Cultural and Social Food Needs and the Role of a Community Freezer among Inuit in Hopedale, Nunatsiavut
This thesis sought to explore and evaluate perceptions of food needs and the role of a community freezer in addressing those needs, among Inuit in Hopedale, Nunatsiavut (Northern Labrador). Research was carried out through an exploratory sequential mixed-methods design. Phase 1 employed qualitative interviews with community members in Hopedale to explore the perceptions of food needs from an Inuit perspective. Results from Phase 1 identified a series personal, physical, cultural, and social food needs that informed the development of a series of questions that were integrated into a community-wide survey that was implemented in Phase 2. Results from Phase 2 identified a series of cultural, household and individual characteristics that significantly impact perceived ability to meet needs among community members in Hopedale. Findings from this research contribute to our understanding of food needs, and may potentially influence estimates of levels of needs that are protected in Inuit land claims, and inform the development or improvement of community methods for food support. Author Keywords: Food Needs, Food Programs, Food Security, Indigenous, Inuit, Mixed-Methods
Energy Resilience in Northern Communities
This project examines the factors for success of alternative energy initiatives in remote northern Indigenous communities, and the link between northern community energy and resilience. The case study, in the Gwich’in village of Fort McPherson, Northwest Territories, focuses upon a biomass boiler district heating project that provides renewable heat fuelled by local wood chips, and the willow harvesting initiative that supports it. Data was collected by interviews and participant observation in Fort McPherson and Yellowknife, and by analysis of resilience, community energy, and biomass literature. Success factors identified include the importance of aligning energy systems with local cultural identity, traditional values and connection to landscape, values often under-represented in financially-driven energy decisions. Autonomy and self-reliance are shown to be critical factors in northern community energy decisions, related to well-being, pride in place and enhanced resilience. Community resilience is revealed as a key component of northern community energy success. Author Keywords: Energy, Indigenous, Northern, Renewable, Resilience, Sustainable
Identifying Indigenous Determinants of Health
The primary research question of this study was to explore the key factors influencing Indigenous health through an investigation of Inuit health in Nunavik. This research used an exploratory sequential mixed-methods design. The qualitative phase of this project employed interviews with Inuit health experts in Nunavik. The quantitative phase involved an analysis of the regional Inuit health dataset to identify predictors of Inuit self-rated health. Qualitative results identified a number of key social, cultural, environmental, and individual determinants of health in the region. Analysis of the quantitative data identified significant associations between variables such as age, physical activity, and peacefulness of the community and self-rated health. Considered in combination, the qualitative and quantitative results of this study indicate the potential value of determinants such as food security, education, and connection to land as important to Indigenous health. The analysis demonstrates that our understanding of health in an Indigenous context has to expand to include determinants beyond physical health. Author Keywords: determinants of health, Indigenous, Inuit, Nunavik, self-rated health
Dimensions of socio-cultural sustainability
Social and cultural sustainability is increasingly discussed in a variety of disciplines and in the growing body of sustainability literature. However there is a lack of clarity in how the concept is defined and poor understanding as to how it relates to other aspects of sustainability. To address this issue, this research explored current definitions and representations of socio-cultural sustainability in the literature and community perspectives on this topic through a case study in Hopedale, Nunatsiavut, Labrador. This research identifies gaps in current understandings of this concept, as well as differences between community and academic perspectives. Case study results emphasized the importance of strong social relationships, cultural identity, and connection to place as central elements of socio-cultural sustainability in a northern, Indigenous context. These findings are valuable for policy and decision makers, regarding approaches to community planning and supporting the social and cultural aspects of sustainability. Author Keywords: cultural sustainability, Hopedale, Inuit, Nunatsiavut, social sustainability, socio-cultural sustainability

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