TK, Mining, Caribou and Communities

Traditional Knowledge on the Impacts of Diamond Mining on Caribou and Communities in the Western Arctic

Project Leader:  Kelsey Jansen, Master’s Candidate in Community Risk and Resilience at the University of Alberta

Research Supervisor:
Brenda Parlee, Professor at the University of Alberta


There are numerous kinds of socio-economic and cultural and ecological effects of resource development in northern Canada which are not easily monitored at regional or territorial scales and are better understood through local level processes such as community-based monitoring. Previous research in Lutsel K’e resulted in a 12 year data set on change in self-government, healing and cultural preservation; many of the changes are associated with the impacts of diamond mining (1998-2010). Kelsey is working with the Wildlife, Lands and Environment Committee and Lutsel K’e Health and Social Services staff to interpret these statistics through workshops and focus groups in 2013.

Using both ethnographic and dendrochronology (tree-ring analysis) methods, she worked together with Denésƍliné elders, caribou harvesters, youth and graduate students / faculty from the University of Alberta to track the effects of diamond mining activity on barren-ground caribou movements over a 3-year period. She conducted interviews around changes to caribou movement patterns over the last century and will be augmenting the interview outcomes with a tree-ring analysis of black spruce root samples that were taken from caribou trails at key crossing sites in the Lutsel K’e Dene Traditional Territory. Outcomes include a conceptual framework for using western methodologies within an indigenous methodological framework and a set of best practices for conducting northern scientific research within an indigenous context. Applied results will include a historical portrait of caribou use of the Artillery Lake area over the last 100 years.

For more information contact:
Kelsey Jansen
Department of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology
Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences
University of Alberta, Edmonton AB T6G2H1