Gwich’in Renewable Resources Board

About Us

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Community Projects

Gwich’in Renewable Resources Board, Northwest Territories
KRIS MAIER, GWICH’IN RENEWABLE RESOURCES BOARD

P.O. Box 2240
Inuvik, NT X0E0T0

Janet Boxwell, Gwich’in Renewable Resources Board
Alestine Andre, Gwich’in Social and Cultural Institute
Tsatsiye Catholique, Gwich’in Tribal Council
Trevor Lantz, University of Victoria
Chanda Brietzke, University of Victoria

Ongoing environmental and socioeconomic changes in northern Canada are raising concerns about the future of fishing livelihoods in the Gwich’in Settlement Area (1, 3). Community-driven research is required to examine observed changes, assess their impacts, and design monitoring initiatives. The goals of this project are to: 1) record local knowledge of environmental changes and their impacts on food fish in the Gwich’in Settlement Area, 2) introduce fishers to scientific fisheries data collection methodology and record data from their catches and 3) connect Gwich’in youth with experienced fishers and mobilize them into action surrounding ongoing changes in fishing livelihoods. To accomplish this youth will travel with the research team to fish camps in the region and spend the day observing fishing activities and documenting the knowledge and perspectives of fishers using semi-structured interviews and participatory videography and photography. Following the fish camps youth representatives will attend a “youth assembly” where they will share their experiences and suggest research priorities for inclusion with the GRRB research priority process. In the winter of 2017, project researchers from the University of Victoria will work with the youth team to develop a report and presentation summarizing the data collected in the summer of 2016. This initiative will improve our understanding of how fishing practices and community livelihoods are being shaped by regional environmental and socioeconomic changes. This information will also guide the development of research and monitoring initiated in the year two of this project.

Gwich’in Renewable Resources Board
AMY AMOS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

P.O. Box 2240, 2nd Fl.,
Alex Moses Greenland Building,
105 Veteran’s Way,
Inuvik, Northwest Territories X0E 0T0

Ongoing environmental and socioeconomic changes in northern Canada are raising concerns about the health of local fish populations, water quality, and the future of fishing livelihoods in the Gwich’in Settlement Area (GSA). In 2016, the Gwich’in First Nation participated in a pilot year with the Tracking Change project, focused on changes to Gwich’in fishing livelihoods. In 2017-18, research for the Tracking Change project in the GSA will be organized around three sub-projects. 1. Monitoring of dissolved oxygen and water temperature affecting vit (lake trout) populations in Airport Lake. This work will be led by Sarah Lord (Fisheries Biologist, GRRB).  2. Research using semi-structured interviews to explore the impact of access to fish on health and well-being. This work will be led by Tracey Proverbs (MSc student, UVic). 3. A knowledge exchange camp that will bring together: 1) Gwich’in fishers and youth, 2) staff from the Gwich’in Tribal Council and Gwich’in Renewable Resources Board, and 3) researchers from the University of Victoria (UVic), and Simon Fraser University (SFU). This camp will highlight monitoring initiatives and the methods focused on fish, water quality, and community health and well-being. This camp will be overseen by Tas-Tsi Catholique (Lands Analyst, GTC) and a camp coordinator hired to organize logistics. This initiative will improve our understandings of changes affecting Gwich’in fishing livelihoods, as well as lay a foundation for vit and water quality monitoring in the Gwich’in Settlement Area. Similar to the previous year, this information will guide the development of research and monitoring in year three of this project.

Gwich’in Renewable Resources Board, Northwest Territories
AMY AMOS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, AND SARAH LORD, FISHERIES AD FORESTRY BIOLOGIST

P.O. Box 2240, 2nd Fl.,
Alex Moses Greenland Building,
105 Veteran’s Way,
Inuvik, NWT X0E 0T0

Ongoing environmental and socioeconomic changes in northern Canada are raising concerns about the health of local fish populations, and water quality and quantity. The second year of the Tracking Change project in the GSA included two research projects: 1. Monitoring of dissolved oxygen and water temperatures in Airport Lake, 2. Interviews with Gwich’in community members about environmental change, access to fish, and well-being. In 2018-2019 we plan to build on these projects by: 1) Expanding a harvester-driven program to monitor catch per unit effort for luk digaii (Coregonus nasus, broad whitefish), and 2) Conducting detailed interviews with land users to record local knowledge of changes in water levels and shifts in the distribution of Pacific salmon. The community-based whitefish monitoring effort will extend ongoing efforts based on the Peel River. The community monitor (harvester) will be trained in data collection, and will keep records of catch per unit effort (CPUE) throughout the harvest season. These data are important to estimating population abundance for luk digaii, an area of particular interest to the GRRB. Additionally, the community monitor will conduct a suite of sampling on a subset of the fish that are harvested, including: fish length and weight, a standardized photo, observations on disease or parasites, sagittal otoliths (a bone in the head used to determine fish age), a fin clip (for stable isotope analysis and to genetically identify population structure), and scale sample (for growth rate analysis). Collectively, these data will yield information on population demographics, size-at-age and growth rate, and habitat use In the second component, we will conduct semi-structured map-based interviews with the fishers participating in the whitefish monitoring activity described above. These interviews will explore local knowledge of water levels and Pacific salmon, focusing on mapping observations of changes in water levels, river and lake morphology, drained lakes and the phenology and distribution of Pacific salmon. Interviews will explore participant perspectives on inter-annual and intra-annual variation in these processes and long-term trends. These initiatives will improve our understandings of changes affecting Gwich’in fishing livelihoods, whitefish population dynamics and health, and aquatic environments and contribute to the development of regional research and monitoring initiatives.

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