Graduate Theses & Dissertations


Nutrient Management in Forest Management Planning
This research evaluates the degree to which nutrients are included in forest management planning. First, the thesis evaluates forest management plans globally to determine the extent to which countries consider key nutrients (N, P, Ca, Mg and K) in their forest management plans. This is followed by a case study in Muskoka, Ontario, of a pilot wood ash recycling program with the goal of restoring calcium and other nutrients in the forests. This pilot project aims to evaluate the benefits of using wood ash as a forest fertilizer, as evidence that the practice merits approval by the provincial government. A text-based literature analysis of current regulations and the Environmental Compliance Approval (appendix 3) submitted to the provincial government for this project was undertaken as this project is currently a not approved practice by the government. Interviews were completed with key stakeholders and experts in the field to understand the benefits and policy hurdles of this program. Based on the documents analysed in this study, it was concluded that both globally and in Canada, nutrient management is not the focus of forest management plans. With respect to the pilot wood ash program, this thesis concluded that there is not enough data published to make the government departments comfortable with approving wood ash as a soil fertilizer. Nevertheless, there is much community support and many perceived benefits to this project, but more supporting data is needed. Author Keywords: Forest, Nutrients, Sustainability, Wood-ash
Community and conservation
Faced with the intersecting environmental crises of the 21st century, conservation organizations are searching for practices that produce better, more sustainable outcomes. However, they have often relied on forms of conservation which shore up rather than disrupt settler relationships to land in the form of fortress conservation and assumptions about the human-nature dualism. In this thesis, I examine a local land trust that intends to include community[-based] conservation into its conservation practices. In particular, I explore how the organization’s volunteers understand and construct the relationship between community and conservation, and the ways this might impact operations. Using a community-based research approach, interviews (n=17) were conducted. The findings indicate that the volunteers are demographically homogenous, leading to a homogenous, Western-science informed understanding of community[-based] conservation. This perspective views involvement of community as a direct trade-off with optimal ecological goals. As the volunteers wield uncommon power in organizational governance, difference in opinions toward missions or operations could lead to constraints on the organization. This study contributes to larger academic discourses on environmental volunteers, land trusts, and frames of conservation, and provides tangible recommendations to an organization attempting to include community[-based] conservation in its practices. Author Keywords: community-based conservation, environmental governance, environmental volunteers, frames of conservation, land trusts, power
Food insecurity among racialized international students
The notion that food insecurity only occurs in the absence of food is prevalent in society. This perception is too narrow and insufficient to capture the diverse manifestations and experiences of food insecurity. In this thesis, I adopt a more expansive approach to examine food (in)security through the lenses of adequacy, quality, and availability of culturally relevant food. I look specifically at the experiences of racialized international students from diverse backgrounds, to empirically ground this approach to understanding food (in)security. Drawing on both quantitative and qualitative data, this study explores the perceptions and real-life experiences of racialized international students who study at Trent University and University of Toronto. These two institutions were selected based on cultural diversity and variation, proximity to culturally appropriate food and the cost involved in accessing culturally appropriate food. Beyond that, I examine structural and policy elements that may be exacerbating the challenge of food security among this category of students. Clearly, issues related to food insecurity and hunger within all spatial configurations are urgent, however, there is a scarcity of literature that zeroes in on the experiences of racialized international students specifically. In the wake of the dramatic internationalization of post-secondary Canadian schools, issues of foreign students’ welfare cannot be overlooked, hence, I narrowed my research lenses to study the character of racialized international students’ inadequate access to culturally appropriate food. Upon analyzing the survey data gathered from 107 racialized international students coupled with semi-structured in-depth interviews with 8 racialized students, I found evidence that culturally appropriate foodstuffs were not abundant in supply for racialized international students. Consequently, the low supply of this category of foodstuffs translates into higher levels of prices which deter racialized international students from making adequate purchases to meet their taste and preference. As part of the findings, the students mentioned that the high cost of tuition, as well as other school-related expenditures are structural policy barriers that leave them with meagre amounts of income to spend on culturally appropriate food items. Under such circumstances, racialized international students are left with the option of purchasing fewer quantities of culturally relevant foodstuffs that meet their daily nutritional requirements. The study further revealed that the challenge of food insecurity poses a threat to the academic achievement and psycho-social well-being of affected students. In addressing these challenges, I propose that the government as well as the school authorities should consider reducing the tuition fees to lessen the financial burden on students. Apart from that, stocking grocery stores and creating culturally appropriate food supply centers in and around school campuses may be helpful. Also, the international offices of universities should intensify welfare programs that entail periodic needs assessment of international students. This will offer the school authorities timely support services to students as and when it is needed. In conclusion, I wish to state that this study seeks to add to the recently growing strand of literature that examines the intersectionality between internationalization of post-secondary schools and food insecurity. The findings provide important and preliminary evidence underpinning the experiences of racialized international students with the phenomenon of food insecurity, thereby providing a point of departure for additional research on the broader nature of intersections between food insecurity and racialization. Author Keywords: Canada, Culture, Food insecurity, International Students, Race, Universities
An assessment of the determinants of, or barriers to, successful municipal food waste management systems
Food waste (FW) disposal has negative implications for the social, economic, and environmental sustainability of communities. While some municipalities in Canada have made improvements to their FW management, others have not been successful. Considering the complexity of the issues integrated into municipal FW management (MFWM), a mixed methodological approach was used to understand the determinants of, or barriers to, successful MFWM systems. Methods included analysis of primary data from a household survey with a fixed response and open-ended questions, along with analysis of the secondary literature. A comparative analysis of the results was undertaken to determine similarities and differences between successful and less successful cases (Guelph and London, Ontario, respectively) and the broader empirical literature. The results suggest the success of MFWM is determined by the commitment of political decision-makers to implement FW policies backed by adequate regulations, high levels of perceived behavioural control over barriers to participating in MFWM programs, and the ability to finance user-friendly MFWM infrastructure. Recommendations are made to guide policies and programming on food waste management. Author Keywords: Components of Waste management System , Composting, Determinants of Success, Food Waste Reduction, Households Food Waste Behaviour, Municipal Food Waste Management System
Experiencing buhts’an qu’inal from sHachel jwohc’ a’tel through sna'el ya'beyel stuc te bin ay ma'yuc
This thesis shows and emphasizes the importance of Indigenous Knowledge (IK) in informing collaborative efforts that promote sustainable economic development in Indigenous communities. It tells the story of a participative research study undertaken with six Tseltal communities located in the Region Selva of Chiapas, Mexico, in the context of the Covid19 pandemic of 2020 and early 2021. In this study, the research participants reflect on their endeavours pursuing projects focused on the economic self-sufficiency of their communities. Their initiatives, which are deeply grounded in Tseltal practices while accompanied by the local non-profit organization IXIM AC, focus on developing economically self-sustaining enterprises in self-organized groups led by local Indigenous women. The findings offer a deep immersion into two aspects that emerge from Tseltal knowledge: The Nucleus of Tseltal community wellbeing and the Four Elements of Buhts’an qu’inal (Tseltal community wellbeing). The study’s results show that these two IK grounded aspects guide the participants’ endeavours in developing sHachel jwohc’ a’tel (Tseltal initiatives of entrepreneurship) while also enabling opportunities for gender transformative collaborative work and sustained engagement in local initiatives of sna'el ya'beyel stuc te bin ay ma'yuc (Tseltal economic development oriented to community wellbeing). Author Keywords: Community Wellbeing, Indigenous Entrepreneurship, Indigenous Knowledges, Indigenous Women, Participative Action Research, Sustainable Development
Shoreline Stewardship
This thesis aimed to determine what factors influence individual- and community-level shoreline stewardship attitudes and behaviours. Shoreline stewardship is part of the broader literature of environmental stewardship and place-based conservation. The needs and barriers limiting stewardship action were examined, as were the opportunities for increased impact. The Love Your Lake (LYL) program served as a case study into the impact of ENGO programming on shoreline stewardship among shoreline property owners in Ontario. This was investigated using a program workshop, interviews and focus groups with past program participants, and existing participant survey data. Community-Based Social Marketing principles were used to further examine the opportunities for increased impact on stewardship behaviour. The study found that the LYL program was effective in starting or continuing a conversation in communities around shoreline health. Some of the remaining needs and/or barriers included limited time at the cottage; limited knowledge of how to fix existing shoreline issues; low stock of local native plants and environmentally minded landscapers; ineffective messaging; a lack of interest, enthusiasm or concern; and weak environmental policies and governance of shorelines. Some participants also listed cost as a barrier, while others felt it had been well addressed already. Most participants thought that education could be a barrier but that it had been well addressed locally through LYL or other programming. Some key motivators and opportunities to increase shoreline stewardship included community building, increased lake association capacity, improved communication and marketing strategies, and persistence. Author Keywords: Community-Based Social Marketing, Environmental Stewardship, Lake Health, Place-Based Conservation, Pro-Environmental Behaviour, Shoreline Stewardship
Perspectives on Poultry
The contemporary denigration of poultry combined with the intensification of industrialized animal agriculture has deepened divides between humans and poultry, creating a disconnect that holds implications for both parties and the sustainability of North American food systems. This study explores how people with poultry keeping experience perceive these animals, how their views are influenced and how these narratives may intersect with themes of sustainability. Surveys and interviews aimed at small flock keepers and commercial farmers within an area of Central Ontario revealed that poultry sentience was widely recognized among participants. Overall, this study’s findings disrupt commonly held notions that poultry are one-dimensional beings and highlight the mutual benefits that can come when the distance is lessened between humans and poultry. This research contends that reimagining human-poultry relationships could improve our ability to consider and challenge dominant systems that perpetuates unsustainable food production and negatively affects both animal and human life. Author Keywords: history poultry keeping, human-animal studies, human-poultry relationships, keeper attitudes, poultry sentience, sustainable food systems
(Re)encountering black bears
This thesis explores the perceptions of human-bear interactions in Ontario, suggesting that they have been shaped by narratives that have roots in colonial perceptions of nonhuman animals. Further, I seek to consider how these interactions could unfold differently if we rethought our relationships and responsibilities to these beings, in particular through an embrace of Indigenous-led conservation informed by ideas of animal welfare. The methods used for this research were first empirical, through qualitative data collection via interviews. Second, it was interpretive, through the observation of bear experiences and through the analysis of circulated and conceptual themes of bear information found in media articles. What emerged was an understanding that the mitigation efforts which are used when human-bear interactions occur are deeply influenced by political, social, and cultural factors that cannot be removed from these matters, asserting that a reconceptualization of current conservation frameworks needs to be considered. Author Keywords: Compassionate conservation, Human-bear interactions, Human-wildlife relations, Indigenous conservation, Narrative inquiry, Wildlife conservation
Through the eyes of the Ontario farmer
Dairy goat farming has become increasingly popular in recent years in Ontario. This qualitative study done by semi-structured interviews, examines the why and the wherefore of the opinions held by dairy goat farmers in Ontario in regards to sustainable agriculture. It was found that these farmers feel that sustainable agriculture is important. These farmers believed their farms to be sustainable and have implemented sustainable farming practices that reflect these interests. Their primary interest is to maintain their farmland for the use of future generations as well as maintaining the economic and environmental sustainability of their farms. There is currently a lack of scientific information available for dairy goat farmers in Ontario. Challenges presented by the participants should be researched so as to better serve this budding industry which may become one of the most sustainable livestock industries in Ontario. Author Keywords: agriculture, dairy goat, farmer opinion, farming, sustainability, sustainable agriculture
Civic Agriculture
This thesis re-imagines the social sustainability of civic agriculture. This entails critically examining the idea of sustainability and exposing why a tendency to undertheorize its social dimension is problematic for how we think about sustainability, and consequently for how we do sustainability. What is demonstrated is that we can overcome this tendency by adopting Stephen McKenzie's understanding of social sustainability as a positive condition and/or process within a community. Once brought into contact with the concept of civic agriculture as presented by Thomas A. Lyson, and expanded upon by others, this broadened understanding of social sustainability reveals that we can think of civic agriculture as both a means to, and an expression of, social sustainability. Specifically, this thesis argues that it is civic agriculture's community problem-solving dimension which animates civic agriculture in such a way that it creates the sort of condition and/or enables the sort of process which reflect aspects associated with a substantive and/or procedural understanding of social sustainability. This re-imagining of the social sustainability of civic agriculture provides ways to defend civic agriculture from its critics and is exemplified by drawing from a personal encounter with civic agriculture. In the end, it is proposed that in light of this research there are now good reasons to re-examine civic agriculture and to critically re-imagine what qualifies who as a civic agriculturalist so that the contextual nature of the social sustainability of civic agriculture can be better respected. Author Keywords: civic agriculture, community problem solving, local food systems, social sustainability, Stephen McKenzie, Thomas A. Lyson
Unsettling Inner Landscapes
Recent climate scientists, Indigenous resurgence scholars, and psychologists have variously indicated that we need a transformation of consciousness in order to address the cultural and spiritual forces at the root of our current environmental, interpersonal, and individual crises of disconnection. My research is in direct response to diverse calls for this paradigm shift, including the words of Elders such as the late Grandfather William Commanda who encouraged settlers such as myself to ‘remember our original instructions’. Through an anti-colonial and trauma-informed lens, my goal has been to strategically inform my roles and responsibilities in healing the disconnection and abuses in what I term the trilogy of my relationships to self, others, and Land. This study is both a critical auto-ethnography and as well as a theoretical engagement with Indigenous resurgence, settler colonialism, and sustainability discourses. I share dialogues with Anishinaabe-kweg in my community with whom I have established relationships and the results of our discussions focus on holistic models of transforming settler consciousness. What emerges is an emotional, uncertain, and yet radically hopeful narrative that points to the urgency of centering Indigenous sovereignty and Indigenous relationship models while endeavouring to reconstruct a sense of identity and belonging along more accountable lines. Recovering a sense of my Celtic epistemology and story work is offered as a strategic exemplar of how settlers might begin to remember and co-create more balanced, respectful, and reciprocal relationships with and within place. Nurturing an embodied spiritual practice of deep listening, critical self-reflection, and collective action is discussed as potentially central to sustaining a decolonizing praxis for white settler Canadians more broadly. Author Keywords: Critical auto-ethnography, Critical Spirituality, Decolonization, Indigenous-settler relations, Original Instructions, Settler colonial studies
Examining the Role of Intermediary Organizations in Participatory Planning
This research evaluates the role of GreenUP, a non-profit in Peterborough, Ontario, as the intermediary organization for NeighbourPLAN. The project examines GreenUP’s role in facilitating and managing NeighbourPLAN, a participatory planning project with multiple local partners and actors. Six critical success factors are used to understand and conceptualize intermediary success (adapted from Holden et al., 2016). Critical success factors include knowledge; governance; relationships; resources; activities; and motivation. Findings from the research highlight the importance of trust, resources, and time within this framework. Author Keywords: Community Based Research, Intermediary, Neighbourhood, Non-profit, Participatory Planning, Partnership Structure


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