Graduate Theses & Dissertations

Bringing Knowledges Together
The natural world and environmental issues present critical points of convergence between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people and their knowledge systems. This qualitative study engaged with 18 Indigenous and non-Indigenous environmental practitioners in interview conversations to explore their experiences in cross-cultural environmental collaborations. The research undertakes a complexity theory approach to answer the following research questions: 1.a) What skills, values, knowledges and approaches do environmental practitioners need to enable Western and Indigenous knowledge systems to come together in addressing environmental challenges? 1. b) What does effectiveness and/or success look like in cross-cultural environmental collaboration? 2. How can post-secondary and professional development educational programs impart the skills, values, knowledges and approaches that their students need to effectively engage in work that brings together Indigenous and non-Indigenous people and their knowledge systems in addressing environmental challenges? This study applied multiple lenses to analyze and interpret the data. The author’s own reflections as both a practitioner and researcher working and teaching in crosscultural environmental contexts were a central component of the study. Through this analysis a set of skills, values, knowledges, approaches, attributes, and roles emerged. The findings reaffirm the importance of respect, relationship, responsibility, and reciprocity as central values in Indigenous praxis and identify additional values. The application of a critical theory lens illuminated that subtle racism and microaggressions influence environmental collaboration between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. The study proposes a curriculum and program design for post-secondary and professional development contexts, that draws upon multiple pedagogies to prepare learners to work cross-culturally in respectful ways. These findings are relevant to environmental practitioners currently working in the field and contribute to a further articulation of an emerging Indigenous Environmental Studies and Sciences (IESS) pedagogy. Author Keywords: Cross-cultural collaboration, Curriculum Development, Environmental Education, Indigenous Studies, Professional Development
Elders And Indigenous Healing in The Correctional Service Of Canada
In our communities, we are continually challenged to reflect on effective responses to the people and events that put us at risk. This study is an examination of two distinctly different world-view responses: the colonial, dominant culture and the Indigenous world-view. The retributive understanding of the dominant culture applies assumptions about the nature of the world that are vested in colonial, paternal, and punitive processes aimed to extract compliance as a means of deterrence. Conversely, the consensual precepts of Indigenous world-view are rooted in community-based practices that require a process of collaboration and cooperation to create integrated relationships that glean responsibility. This study brings light to bear on the ongoing relational dissonance that exists between the following: the disproportionate representation of men and women of Aboriginal descent held under federal warrant in Canada; the legislated mandate contained within the Canadian Corrections and Conditional Release Act that places successful community reintegration as a primary objective for the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC); and the role, place, and function of Elders who work in CSC reception centres, healing programs, and Pathways Initiatives. This study explores the variables, assumptions, and differing world-views that contribute to the disproportionate representation of incarcerated adults of Aboriginal descent and the challenges that impede successful community reintegration. In order to effectively examine and make sense of the relational dissonance that exists between correctional theory and institutional practice, the research is driven by a central question: What is the role, place, and function of Elders in the delivery of Indigenous healing programs within Canadian federal prisons? The outcome of this work reveals practices of decolonizing justice and healing that can move assumptions and challenge paternal understanding. It is an approach that has the capacity to peel away relational dissonance, thus allowing space for public policy that sustains consensual understandings of community. Key Words: Indigenous, settler colonial, dominant culture, retributive justice, restorative justice, indigenous justice, Elder, healing, healing program, disproportionate representation, successful community reintegration, relational dissonance. Author Keywords: Elder, healing program, indigenous justice, relational dissonance, retributive justice, successful community reintegration
Linking Inuit and Scientific Knowledge and Observations to Better Understand Arctic Char (Salvelinus alpinus (L.)) Community Monitoring
Arctic Char (Salvelinus alpinus (L.)) have been, and remain, an important subsistence resource for the Inuvialuit, the Inuit of the western Canadian Arctic. The effects of climate variability and change (CVC) in this region have been noticeably increasing over the past three decades. There are concerns as to how CVC will affect Arctic Char and the Inuvialuit who rely on this resource as they will have to adapt to changes in the fishery. Community-based monitoring, is an important tool for managing Arctic Char. Therefore, my dissertation focused on the central question of: Which community-based monitoring factors and parameters would provide the information needed by local resources users and decision-makers to make informed choices for managing Arctic Char populations in light of CVC? This question is investigated through an exploratory research approach and a mixed method research design, using both scientific and social science methods, and quantitative (scientific ecological knowledge and observation) and qualitative (Inuvialuit knowledge and observation) information. It is formatted as three journal manuscripts, an introduction, and an integrative discussion. The first manuscript examines potential habitat parameters for monitoring landlocked Arctic Char condition in three lakes on Banks Island in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region. The second manuscript examines potential local environmental parameters for monitoring landlocked Arctic Char growth in the same three lakes. The third manuscript investigates aspects of Arctic Char community-based monitoring programs (CBMP) in the Canadian North that have led to the sustained collection of useful data for management of the resource. This dissertation makes contributions to the field of research by demonstrating the utility of a mixed methods approach. The results demonstrate similarities and differences in char growth and condition within and among Capron, Kuptan and Middle lakes on Banks Island. This supports both lake-specific and regional climate-driven changes, meaning both lake habitat and local environmental monitoring parameters should be used in char CBMP. The investigation of char CBMP across northern Canada demonstrates that an adaptive monitoring approach is important for subsistence fisheries, as changing lifestyles and environmental changes impacting a fishery can have direct effects on the successful operation of char CBMP. Author Keywords: Arctic Char, community-based monitoring, environment, Inuit Knowledge, mixed methods, Traditional Knowledge
Nunavik Inuit Knowledge of Beluga
Socio-ecological systems are inherently complex and marine mammals are fundamentally challenging to study. In the Arctic, marine mammals occupy a central ecological role, as nutrient cyclers and as a source of food and culture for Indigenous peoples. Inuit have developed a rich knowledge system, which has not been fully actualized in application in most Arctic research. Considering the need for the best available information in marine mammal ecology, the research question guiding this dissertation was: How can multiple methods and approaches be used to more effectively gather, understand, and represent Inuit Knowledge for an improved understanding of marine mammal ecology? The dissertation investigates this question using a case study of beluga in Nunavik (Arctic Quebec) drawing on the expertise of hunters and Elders to better understand complex questions in marine mammal ecology. The thesis uses a transdisciplinary approach to address the dissertation objective and is comprised of a general introduction, followed by four chapters formatted as journal manuscripts, and closes with an integrated discussion and conclusion. The first manuscript examines the contributions of Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) of beluga to marine mammal literature. The second manuscript uses a sub-set of data gathered through participant mapping to apply a mapping method to explore how the spatial aspects of TEK could be better documented, analyzed, and represented. The third and fourth papers are based on the knowledge shared by hunters and Elders. The third explores the questions ‘why do beluga migrate?’ and ‘what factors influence beluga movement?’. The fourth investigates aspects of beluga foraging ecology. This dissertation makes methodological contributions through the application of kernel density estimators to participant maps as a method for transforming multiple mapped narratives into a quantitative database. The understandings shared by hunters and Elders make significant ecological contributions, particularly to foraging (e.g. diet composition and seasonal energy intake), and movement ecology (e.g. potential drivers of migration). Broadly these findings contribute to our collective understanding of beluga ecology and have implications for wildlife management. Author Keywords: Arctic, Beluga biology, foraging ecology, Inuit Knowledge, migration, transdisciplinary
Environmental Health Management Practices in Indigenous Communities
Environmental factors play a critical role in the health and well-being of people worldwide and the distribution of the burden of disease associated with environmental causes is disproportionately high in marginalized populations, including First Nations. In this way, environmental health problems are as much social and political problems as environmental and must be addressed as such. In Canada, the division of responsibilities for environmental health, in combination with the jurisdictional complexities of health and environment regulation and service provision on-reserve creates a First Nations environmental health management system with significant gaps. This research set out to explore the question: What are the current strengths and challenges in First Nations environmental health policy and management? A qualitative exploratory design organized in two stages and employing key informant interviews, document review and a community case study was used to examine this topic. In the first stage a review of existing programs and policies applicable to Ontario First Nations and a series of interviews with key experts on the topic in the province were conducted. A conceptual framework of the core elements affecting environmental health management in First Nations communities was developed and then applied to a case study with Mississauga First Nation in Northern Ontario. The framework included five core elements: Environmental Health Jurisdiction and Responsibility; Participation in Environmental Health Decision-Making; Access to Environmental Health Resources, Communication of Environmental Health Information; and, Role and Influence of Leadership. The findings indicate that "internal" issues, like community-based decision-making and support for environmental health initiatives seem to be least affected by the "external" issues such as access to federal funding. The "internal" issues were also shown to be critically important factors having impacts on environmental health management practices and policies in Mississauga First Nation. While there are countless barriers associated with the "external" factors that have significant impacts on environmental health management practices and policies, this research suggest that the "internal" factors can potentially be the most important factors in creating positive change in this area and as a result warrant further study in order to improve the state of environmental health issues in First Nations. Author Keywords: Community, Environmental Health, First Nations, Framework, Policy
Know*ledge Constellations and Re*constellating
The purpose of this study was to explore the educational implications of a clearer understanding of the practice of using multiple, including Indigenous, knowledges when finding solutions to place-based environmental issues. The impetus for my research came from a growing sense of urgency to address environmental issues within both Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. Some have argued that communities will be most successful in understanding and resolving such issues if ways can be found to work with different knowledges. However, the practice of bringing together multiple knowledges is not yet consistently effective. At the same time, there is a recognised need for individuals who are able to use different knowledges to address urgent environmental concerns. Unfortunately, there is minimal programming advice based on the perspective of individual practitioners available to guide post-secondary institutions wishing to meet this need. This lead to my first two research questions: What are the key principles and concepts in a narrative describing how individual practitioners think about using knowledges when finding solutions to place-based environmental issues? and What are the implications of this understanding for teaching and learning, especially in post-secondary Indigenous-and-Environmental education? In my project, I used a relational research approach that led to a third question: How is a complexity-inspired interpretive approach suitable for exploring these questions? I had coherent conversations with sixteen practitioners who were deliberately using multiple, including Indigenous, knowledges to find solutions to place-based environmental issues. Practitioners and I co-created a Know*ledge Constellation Story to describe how they think about using knowledges in their work. In a group coherent conversation with five educators who were familiar with Indigenous-and-Environmental education, we explored the educational implications of this story. Together, we finalised a Teaching-Learning Story of Re*constellating and identified ways to prepare students to practice re*constellating, including teaching strategies and program considerations. The Know*ledge Constellation Story and the Teaching-Learning Story of Re*constellating will inform post-secondary Indigenous-and-Environmental education. Graduates from such programs will be better prepared to engage with communities to address environmental concerns, meet legislative and policy requirements, and support research efforts that would benefit from a clearer understanding of the practice of re*constellating. Author Keywords: Complexity-Inspired Interpretive Approach, Conditions of Emergence, Indigenous-and-Environmental Education, Know*ledge Constellations, Principles of Re*constellating, Teaching and Learning

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