The Relationship of the Social Economy to Community Development and Park Creation: A Case Study in Lutsel K'e, Northwest Territories
Final Report: Maximizing Lutsel K'e Community Benefit from the Proposed National Park (Through Capacity Building and the Social Economy
The primarily Dene First Nation community of of Lutsel K'e, Northwest Territories, located 200km east of Yellowknife on the East Arm of Great Slave Lake, is questioning the implications of the creation of a national park in their traditional territory and in the local community and how to maximize local benefit. This document explores the results of a collaboratively developed research project that focused on: 1) perceived and desired community development outcomes related to the creation of a national park; 2) capacity building for the maximization of local benefit; and 3) the role of the social economy in facilitating social and economic development related to park creation.
Prior to exploring these three areas of focus, the first section explores the context of this study and provides a brief history of the national park proposal for the East Arm of Great Slave Lake. The research process, methodology and methods are also outlined in this section. The second section of this document explores community perceptions of the reasons that the community initially opposed the formation of a national park and the factors that may have caused the community's position to change and provides an overview of the perceived and desired community benefits of the park's creation. A discussion of emergent themes related to capacity building for tourism development, for capitalizing on potential employment and contract opportunities, and for non-economic development is provided in the third section. The fourth section examines the role of the social economy in facilitating community development related to the creation of the park.
Recommendations for applying the results of this research are highlighted throughout the document. The goal of this document has been to provide information for the Lutsël K'e Dene First Nation and the Parks Canada agency and to support the maximization of local community development as the formation of the national park proceeds.
This project adopted an action research methodology that was philosophically guided by appreciative inquiry (Cooperrider & Whitney, 1999). Action research allows for the exploration of questions determined by and with a research partner, is participative and is action oriented (Reason & Bradbury, 2000). Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is a solution oriented action research methodology (Cooperrider & Whitney, 1999). AI encourages organizations or communities to steer away from looking at "weaknesses" and to focus on the "extraordinary" in order to elevate the organization or community in question to its full potential (Boyd, 2007). AI has the goals of exploring positive potential, empowerment, developing capacity, mobilization and generating change (Bushe, 2009; Koster & Lemelin, 2009). AI is ultimately focused on improving society and quality of life. Instead of using the group process often associated with AI, we used individual interviews to account for the context of the study.
Many community members felt that it was quite important that the national park was created in amanner that benefited the local community as much as possible; it is our hope that the results anddiscourse presented in this report will be useful to both the Lutsël K'e Dene First Nation and tothe Parks Canada agency in achieving this end. This report has presented the results of acollaboratively developed research project that examined several topics related to communitydevelopment and national park creation. The study focused on the perceived and desiredcommunity benefits of the park, how to build local capacity to take full advantage of the benefitsthat the park could offer, and the role of social economy organizations in facilitating desiredcommunity development outcomes.This report is timely as the results could inform ongoing park and community developmentprocesses and support the community in achieving maximum benefit during and after thecreation of a national park. More specifically, these findings could be integrated into thecommunity's vision for the national park, inform Parks Canada's socio-economic study of thearea, inform long-term park management documents and processes, assist the community indetermining capacity building objectives to support the development of tourism, encourage thefuture development and growth of the social economy in Lutsel K'e, and inform future social andeconomic developments in the community.Of course, the success of the community and park development processes will require significantplanning and ongoing efforts on the part of all of the various stakeholders involved. Many of thepractical steps that could be taken to maximize local benefit have been stated in earlier chaptersand in the appendices of this document. In closure, we want to end where this document beganthrough emphasizing the importance of articulating a united community vision for the park andof long-term commitment to park and community development processes.
In 2001, 32 years after the Government of Canada initially proposed a national park on the East Arm of Great Slave Lake in the traditiol1al territory of the Lutsel K' e Dene First Nation, Chief Felix Lockhart indicated to Parks Canada that the community was interested in discussing the idea. In 2006, an MOD was signed between the Government of Canada and the Lultsel K'e Dene First Nation that has lead to the withdrawal of an area of 33,525 km2 while studies, negotiations and consultations take place. The people of Lutsel K'e, Northwest Territories still have significant questions about how the creation of a national park will affect the local community and how to maximize local benefit should the park be created. This exploratory study investigated several lines of questioning related to community development and benefit, capacity building and the role of the social economy utilizing action research guided by appreciative inquiry. To gain the most insight into these issues this study used a triangulation of perspectives, employing a combination of ethnographic and formal interviews to collect data from various groups within and outside the community. The results from this research are presented in three parts. The first chapter of results focuses on perceived and desired community benefits of the creation of a national park. The second chapter discusses emerging themes related to capacity building for tourism development in the community and presents a contextual and emergent model and definition. The final chapter of results presents a discussion of the role of the social economy in supporting community development related to the creation of the park.
Keywords: Conservation; Community Development; Benefits; National Park; Lutsel K'e; Social Economy; Capacity Building; Tourism Development
Several additional documents are currently under review and will be made available once the review is completed.
Raynald Harvey Lemelin, Associate Professor Department: School of Outdoor Recreation, Parks & Tourism Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Ontario
Nathan Bennett, M.E.S. Student School of Outdoor Recreation, Parks and Tourism Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, ON
Steve Ellis, Thaydene Nene Project Coordinator, Lutsel K'e Dene First Nation, Lutsel K'e, NT
Margaret Johnston, Professor, School of Outdoor Recreation, Parks and Tourism, Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, ON
For further information about this project contact Harvey Lemelin (email: Harvey.firstname.lastname@example.org) or Nathan Bennett (email email@example.com)
Social economy organizations primary concern is the social well-being of individuals in the communities with which they work; however, economic and environmental considerations are also important influences on the social sphere of development. In the north, conservation efforts tend to have significant impacts on all three spheres of development: social, economic and environmental. This study will examine the role and effective functioning of the social economy in facilitating social and economic development related to park creation, using Lutsel K'e and the recently announced East Arm National Park as a case study.
Given that park creation has the potential to bring with it both positive and negative impacts, it is vital for the community and its organizations to take a proactive and participatory approach to developing an appropriate management regime for the park and to establishing community development and capacity building objectives. The Lutsel K'e Dene First Nation (LDFN) is a local organization whose mandate is to provide for the social, economic and environmental well-being of its members. To help the organization investigate and research the feasibility of establishing the East Arm National Park in the LDFN traditional territory, the LDFN created an arm of the organization called the Thaydene Nene Working Group.
The park's establishment is seen by the community partner (LDFN), an organization dedicated to fostering the social economy in Lutselï K'e, as an opportunity to help the community to determine future social and economic outcomes through various strategies including protection and economic development. Using a collaborative process guided by appreciative inquiry, this study will use interviews and focus group sessions with community members to examine social, economic and environmental goals related to park development. The emphasis will be on establishing social and economic objectives that will support the community's development and understanding the role of the LDFN in achieving the community's social and economic objectives. As the establishment of the national park continues, the purpose of the study is to provide information to the community partner and Parks Canada for direct use in planning.
The Social Economy Research Network of Northern Canada and Yukon College hosted a presentation by Harvey Lemelin & Nathan Bennett, School of Outdoor Recreation, Parks and Tourism, Lakehead University
The Relationship of the Social Economy to Community Development and Park Creation: A Case Study in Lutsel K'e, Northwest Territories. Thursday January 29th, 2009 at noon in the Yukon College Pit (foyer). The primary concern for organizations dealing with the social economy is the social well-being of individuals in the communities within which they work; however, economic and environmental considerations are also important influences on the social sphere of development. In the Canadian north, there are an expanding number of large-scale conservation efforts (i.e., parks and protected areas), which tend to have significant positive and negative impacts on local and regional development strategies. This presentation describes a collaborative research process undertaken in conjunction with the Lutsel K'e Dene First Nation, and provides preliminary findings regarding conservation and protection initiatives, and the effective functioning and potential expansion of the social economy in facilitating community social and economic developments. Powerpoint presentation
More details on the project at: http://lutselkeandthaidenenene.wordpress.com/
In February of 2008, there was an initial visit as well as consultations with the community partners and chief and council on the research project directions and design. Shortly after, Nathan Bennett developed and defended a proposal for the research thesis. During this time the ethics approval and northern research license were granted
In the spring there was a second visit to the north with the purpose of conducting research in Lutsel K'e, Fort Smith and Yellowknife. A total of 44 formal and informal interviews were conducted inside and outside of the communities. These interviews were then transcribed and analyzed using NVivo 8
In January of 2009 both the principal researcher, Mr. Bennett, and the principal investigator, Dr. Lemelin, conducted a follow-up visit to the community to clarify and consult on upcoming reports, publications and presentations. Dr Harvey Lemelin then presented the preliminary findings at Yukon College.
At present the thesis and final community report is being developed. In March 2009 the results of this research project were presented at the American Association of Geographers Conference in Las Vegas, and again at the Association for Non-Profit and Social Economy Research Conference in May of 2009. In addition, abstracts were submitted to the Canadian Association of Geographers Conference for May 2009 and the International Lakes Tourism conference in June 2009. Mr. Bennett's thesis defense was on June 19, 2009 at Lakehead University.
A final visit to Lutsel K'e in order to present the findings and community report has yet to be scheduled.
Both the park and tourism are seen by community members as serving a broad number of social and economic functions. In particular, both of these efforts are seen as means to work towards local economic sustainability while preserving and revitalizing the local culture. In achieving the community desired outcomes related to the creation of the park, current social economy organizations (Denesoline Corporation, Coop, Community Futures) serve important functions particularly in the development of tourism. Clarification of the roles of these organizations could serve to improve their functioning and contributions to the community's development. In addition, there is significant room for the growth of social economy organizations in the community pertaining to local economic and tourism development. Many people see the development of tourism as a cooperative model as being more suited to the culture and context of Lutsel K'e. Finally, many community and external organizations play an important role in supporting the development of both current and future social economy organizations.
The research partnership between our research team from Lakehead University and the Thaidene Nene Parks Working Group of the Lutsel K'e Dene First Nation has been a positive one. Our community contact recently commented in an email "look forward to the report...should be some valuable info in there that will inform the road forward ." Our hope is that an ongoing research relationship and collaborations will happen with the Thaidene Nene Working Group and the Lutsel K'e Dene First Nation.
Already this relationship has facilitated the creation of a field course in Lutsel K'e for undergraduate students (offered through the School of Outdoor Recreation, Parks and Tourism at Lakehead University under the direction of Dr. Harvey Lemelin). Students in this course are working with the community on several capacity building related projects. This group of students will be visiting Lutsel K'e this spring (June 2009).