Graduate Theses & Dissertations

Managing Through Change
Arctic ecosystems are increasingly altered by climate change, and some wildlife species, like moose, are adapting to these new conditions. Indigenous knowledge and values, such as those held by Inuit, can provide insight into adaptive wildlife management and may improve ecosystem resiliency. This thesis seeks to address the following question: What is the potential role of Indigenous knowledge in managing wildlife under climate change? This thesis follows a qualitative exploratory design involving 1) a systematic literature review of the peer-reviewed literature and 2) a case study on moose in Nunatsiavut in which 35 interviews and participatory mapping were conducted with Inuit beneficiaries. The results demonstrate a range of potential roles for Indigenous knowledge and values in managing species impacted by climate change. The case study of moose in Nunatsiavut has applicability across the Canadian Arctic where the sustainability of harvested species is at risk. Author Keywords: Arctic, climate change, Indigenous knowledge, moose, Nunatsiavut, wildlife management
Ohwén
Ohwén:tsia Entsionkwarihón:nien is a project that explores the intersection of Kanien’kéha immersion, Kanien’kehá:ka culture and the potential impacts of experiencing Rotinonhsón:ni knowledge on the land. Students at the Akwesasne Freedom School are fully immersed in the Kanien’kéha language and the “curriculum” is centered around four Rotinonhsón:ni systems of knowledge. What is missing, as identified by the teachers, is consistent opportunities for students to physically be on the land. This project asks how can we ensure that future generations of Onkwehónwe children can embody their language and their culture in connection to the land. The resulting “curriculum” then shifts from determining what students will learn, to listening to what the land has to teach. A land-based program by the AFS can translate to educational control, cultural sustainability, food sovereignty, environmental stewardship, community empowerment and linguistic revitalization; each of these is a critical component of building and rebuilding communities and nations. Author Keywords: Indigenous methodology, Land-Based Education, Rotinonhsón:ni, Storytelling
Exploring Kiki-Inoomgugaewin
This case study contributes to scholarship surrounding the national conversation on Indigenous language sustainability in North America. Much of this scholarship provides insight on structuring language programs and policies for youth, leaving a tremendous research gap regarding sociolinguistic and cultural research with youth. Youth appear disinterested or otherwise set apart in current research from the development of policies and curriculum concerned with heritage languages. Upon closer inspection; however, youth are engaged and using innovative and different tools than previous generations. This exploration is a foundational case study which builds upon research highlighting the nature of Indigenous language loss in the south as a time sensitive phenomenon as the application of cognitive imperialism and colonial tactics within mainstream schools continue to conceal a large scale cultural and linguistic genocide in Canada. Although Indigenous language loss may seem of concern to only small groups of linguists and dialectic communities, it should in fact concern anyone who cares about reconciliation or closing the tremendous gap in accessing equitable education. The preservation of Indigenous languages and knowledge systems should also be of interest to those parties who seek to comprehensively understand the Natural World and whom have a vested interest in the survival of the planet and protection of the enviroment. Because of these realities, the viewpoints and experiences of all concerned parties are essential. It follows then, that the youth perspective is significant. To address this gap, participatory narrative inquiry was used as a theoretical framework to conduct a foundational case study in which detailed consideration was given to exploring the lived narratives of three Anishnaabeg participants to establish the value of Indigenous youth voice in alternative forms of sociolinguistic and culturally sustainable language learning in the 21st century, and, to strengthen the argument that more research is needed in the field of first-person youth studies. The results of this case study will be useful, specifically, to localized communities of Anishnaabe youth with and for whom much of the research was conducted, and, more generally to youth resistance work focused on media and technology in globalized and contemporary language and cultural ecologies. Research outcomes indicated potential directions for future research in different contexts and localities by presenting commonalities within the fields of social and political engagement and their connection to language and new media in youth populations. It is hoped that this initial material pinpointing a research gap in Indigenous youth language studies will be used to investigate future research in this field. Author Keywords: Anishnaabe, Decolonization, Language, Sociolinguistics, Technology, Youth Studies
“I will not use the word reconciliation” – Exploring Settler (Un)Certainty, Indigenous Refusal, and Decolonization through a Life History Project with Jean Koning
This thesis centres on a series of intergenerational life history interviews with and about Jean Koning, a 95-year-old white Settler woman who has engaged in different forms of Indigenous-Settler solidarity work for over fifty years—work that is highly regarded by many Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in southwestern and central Ontario. I bring Jean’s stories and perspectives, many of which stand in stark contrast to dominant discourses of “reconciliation,” into conversation with scholars who examine Indigenous refusal and Settler (un)certainty. Through this, I attempt to better understand how colonial knowledge structures and ways of thinking operate in practise, how these might be resisted, and how this resistance relates to land repatriation. I argue that a commitment to unsettling uncertainty and to meaningful listening may be required by Settlers in a stand against various colonial ways of thinking, such as cognitive imperialism. Author Keywords: Cognitive imperialism, Decolonization, Indigenous-Settler relations, Life history, Reconciliation, Settler uncertainty
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

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2011 - 2031
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