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Thesis Examination - MSc Student Nicholas Palaschuk

Fri. Aug. 3 10:00 AM - Fri. Aug. 3 12:00 PM
Contact: a.norris@uwinnipeg.ca
Location: 1RC028 (Graduate Studies Boardroom, 1st Floor of Richardson College)

Community-based criteria and values for non-timber forest products management in the traditional territory of the Missanabie Cree First Nation

Despite the push for meaningful Indigenous participation in forest management, conventional top-down planning processes fail to sufficiently integrate local knowledge and values necessary to achieve truly sustainable forestry. As Indigenous communities regain control over their traditional territories, there continues to be a growing emphasis on developing locally adapted frameworks by which Indigenous communities and partners may achieve integrated development-conservation systems that reflect their values and aspirations. This community-based case study explores the plurality of local values and perspectives within an Indigenous context, building on the experiences of the Missanabie Cree First Nation (MCFN) of Ontario, Canada.

Using an inclusive and participatory approach, this research qualifies and elaborates on local criteria and critical local values surrounding non-timber forest product (NTFP) development and conservation within the MCFN traditional territory. Non-timber forest products (NTFPs) are an important element of the spiritual and cultural identity of Canada’s Indigenous communities, while playing a significant role in traditional economies. Current commercial forest management systems do not adequately protect these natural resources as managers have yet to sufficiently incorporate both Western science and local Traditional Knowledge and experience into the planning process. Applied ethnobotany and policy analysis theory were used to develop a mixed-methods case study that developed a framework that allows for improved assessments of forest management in relation to the local landscape, community, and culture.

Perspectives of Missanabie community members were analyzed through 26 semi-structured interviews conducted in August 2016 that addressed specific components of the Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) knowledge-practice-belief complex. Qualitative analysis documented and organized critical local values. Previous Criteria and Indicators (C&I) studies to help inform and guide qualitative coding processes and help saturate emergent criteria and elements. Qualitative results were used to develop a preference ranking questionnaire, administered to MCFN adults (≥18) as a mixed-mode survey. Quantitative findings were used to support qualitative interview by providing an index of relative importance within the community. Prioritized values helped to corroborate trends found throughout the interview results, provide the basis for NTFP development and conservation recommendations, and help provide direction for future planning.

By drawing on multiple perspectives, the MCFN, as well as other parties, are able to better understand and make well informed decisions to address socio-ecological issues, begin re-establishing their own institutions directed towards managing forest access and use, and increasing local autonomy and self-determination in forest planning and decision-making processes. This analysis establishes key community-based objectives that have been prioritized by the community with the intent of promoting diverse socio-economic benefits, while advancing local forest management systems. Collaborative research findings will allow for Traditional Knowledge to be considered alongside Western scientific knowledge in working towards an NTFP development plan that can support social, economic, and environmental benefits to the Missanabie Cree community.

This framework represents a starting for Missanabie in the forest planning process. Moving forward, leadership can continue to build and revise this framework to accommodate changing needs, further engage their membership, and in doing so perhaps further refine their roles in forest governance and decision-making processes.