Project 2e

Community Hunts and Sharing Harvested Meat in Fort Good Hope, NWT

Thesis completed Spring 2012

Thesis Abstract:
This thesis examines how community hunting strategies and food-sharing networks facilitate social-ecological resilience to a decreased availability of barren-ground caribou in the K’asho Got’ine region of the Sahtú Settlement Area. It is based on collaborative research carried out with the Fort Good Hope Renewable Resources Council, including participant observation and interviews. I demonstrate that organizers of autumn community hunts (2007-2010) responded flexibly to ecological conditions (i.e. the availability of different species of game), and to community perspectives about the hunts, while working to address the broader needs of traditional knowledge education for youth and the food security of vulnerable demographics. A tradition of food-sharing has always been an important mechanism by which the latter need is met. Based on a comparison of two hunts in 2009 (a community hunt versus a series of household hunts), I find that vulnerable groups received meat to a greater extent after the community hunt in part through their exercising their eligibility for it through requests. More information can be accessed at https://era.library.ualberta.ca/public/datastream/get/uuid:46783644-519b-49fe-8255-246901d9ff30/DS1
 

Research Team

  • Roger McMillan, MSc Candidate, University of Alberta
  • Dr. Brenda Parlee, Department of Resource Economics and Rural Sociology, University of Alberta 

Abstract

The thesis examines how community hunting strategies and food-sharing networks facilitate social-ecological resilience to decreased availability of barren-ground caribou in the K’asho Got’ine region of the Sahtu Settlement Area.  Based on collaborative research carried out with the Fort Good Hope Renewable Resources Council in 2009 and 2010 (including participant observation and interviews), the project demonstrate that community hunts (2007-2010) were flexible and responsive to ecological and social conditions.  In two instances, cultural objectives of the hunt were seen as equally or more important to the hunt as the procurement of meat.  Decisions about where, how, and what to hunt were made by hunt organizers in the planning phases of each hunt.  The ecological factors organizers took into account included the availability of different species of game (alternatives to caribou), while the key social factors driving hunt organization included Aboriginal rights and interests in lands and resources, the transmission of traditional knowledge to local youth, and addressing food-requirements of vulnerable demographics.  A tradition of food-sharing has always been an important mechanism by which the latter need is addressed; successful harvesters sharing meat with those with limited access serves to even out inequities in the availability of meat within the community.  Based on a comparison of two hunts in 2009 (a community hunt versus a series of individual hunts), the research suggests that different forms of hunting organization affect the dynamics of food-sharing in that vulnerable populations were prioritized for receiving meat to a greater extent after the community hunt.  Given the concerns about food security in northern communities, more research is needed regarding issues of access to caribou and other traditional foods.

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