Sharing Northern water resources knowledge with First Nations communities of the Yukon

Projet Transfert du Geotop

Michel Baraër
Janie Masse-Dufresne
Bastien Charonnat
Eole Valence

During the last century, academic research on northern communities and northern environments were often done at the expense of the people living there. Researchers frequently ignored to share with them the outcomes of their studies. This issue is summarized in the published report from the National Inuit Strategy on Research (Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, 2018): “For far too long, researchers have enjoyed great privilege as they have passed through our communities and homeland, using public or academic funding to answer their questions about our environment, wildlife, and people. This leads First Nations community members to express a lack of trust and disinterest towards scientists. In an effort to reconcile Yukon’s Indigenous people with researchers and to encourage the sharing of knowledge between the two parties, we propose to undertake a series of small activities dedicated to northern water resources, which climate change is greatly affecting in these regions, within a First Nation community.

This project to the First Nations communities in southwest Yukon was initially supposed to start in February 2021. However, the coronavirus pandemic that occurred in the winter of 2020 changed everything. Unable to visit the indigenous communities in 2020 and 2021, discussions regarding the start of this project could only begin in early 2022. As a result, an additional 2-year delay for the implementation of knowledge transfer activities was requested and granted by the Geotop management.

Therefore, the year 2022 was dedicated to reconnecting with the Kluane indigenous community and developing a new knowledge transfer strategy. New perspectives on knowledge transfer were considered following the guidelines outlined in the publication by Wong et al., 2020. The project focuses now on two approaches in seeking opportunities to carry out knowledge transfer activities within community-organized events and/or for the community, such as the annual open house day at the Kluane Research Station located on the territory of the Kluane First Nation. Following the discussions initiated in 2022 between project lead Michel Baraer, the scientific manager of the research station Christina Pen, and the natural resources manager of the Kluane First Nation government Kristie Kennedy, it was decided to organize the knowledge exchange in two stages: 
1) during the research summit organized by the Kluane First Nations in 2023, and 
2) during the open house day at the research station in the same year.

Associating with existing events provides a dual advantage for the project. On one hand, it satisfies the community's preferences, and on the other hand, it minimizes the event organization costs for Geotop.