Social Justice, Sustainability, and Research in a Changing Arctic
Dr. Anne Henshaw, PhD.
At our second annual Collaborative Showcase, keynote speaker, Anne Henshaw, PhD. of the global philanthropic organization, Oak Foundation, "explored how participatory approaches to research can support people and communities in the Arctic advance their own priorities, needs, and interest."
Here are some key points from Dr. Henshaw’s talk:
- Within the context of research in the Arctic, you can not advance the participation and empowerment in research without understanding the dynamic interplay and discourse around Indigenous knowledge and western science.
- The Arctic is not simply a laboratory to study change, a place to be saved, or a resource frontier to be developed, but a homeland to more than 400,000 Indigenous Peoples
- Many Arctic science projects have aimed to build partnerships with indigenous communities, but few have used a true co-production of knowledge process that brings together indigenous knowledge holders and scientists equitably from the inception of the project.
- Within Oak Foundation's approach, we focus on supporting projects that value the role indigenous knowledge and science play in decision-making, supporting the participation of local communities in policy processes, building in region capacity, and fostering partnerships and collaboration between academic organizations, civil society groups, and indigenous communities.
- By directly supporting organizations and communities, Oak believes Indigenous Peoples can better represent themselves in the policy-making arena and play an active role in shaping their own futures.
- In 2009 Oak supported a variety of mapping efforts in the Bering Sea. While the project does not represent a complete co-production approach, it was designed from the beginning to include indigenous knowledge holders and scientists from a variety of organizations.
The various projects culminated in large atlases that have laid a solid foundation to advance a precautionary approach to development. They are still used today for marine planning purposes.
- In Dr. Henshaw’s closing points she cited a recent op ed by Sandra Inutiq from the Nunavut Territory in northern Canada who serves as the lead negotiator for the regional organization, Qiqiktani Inuit Association- an association was formed during the Nunavut land claims.
The title of Ms. Inutiq’s piece: "Dear Qallunaat" (white people) includes 21 observations largely aimed at contractors working for the Nunavut government. While Dr. Henshaw encouraged everyone to read the piece in its entirety, she highlighted a few points pertinent for any researcher to consider when working in indigenous communities in the north.