Project 8

Project Completed, 2009

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.

Nathan Bennetts Full Thesis Conservation, Community Benefit, Capacity Building and the Social Economy: A Case Study of Lutsel K'e and the Proposed National Park


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.

Research Team

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,  P