Definitions and the defining process, traditional ecological knowledge in the Keewatin region, Nunavut

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Procter, Andrea H.
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This study examines the manner in which "traditional ecological knowledge" is portrayed and perceived by natural resource managers and researchers in the Keewatin region of Nunavut. The history of colonialism in Canada's North has resulted in a power disparity between natural resource management institutions and Inuit communities. This power disparity has meant that the interest and the use of traditional ecological knowledge by Western-based management institutions often accentuate and perpetuate the subordinate position in which Inuit society has often found itself. This thesis is based on the concept that the ways in which traditional ecological knowledge is perceived and researched by natural resource management influence the manner in which Inuit communities are perceived by managers, and so can work to either perpetuate or to question the unequal historical relationships. This study analyzes the written discussions (the definitions) and the research context (the defining process) related to traditional ecological knowledge in the Keewatin region of Nunavut, using discourse analysis and reflections on my own research experiences, and explores the implications that these activities have on the Inuit people involved and on their relationship with natural resource management. The study achieves this by first examining the efforts in the discussion and in the research to present traditional ecological knowledge in a manner suitable for Western acceptance, and explores the negative implications that these efforts often produce. The study then examines the more recent trends towards an inclusion of Inuit perspectives, priorities, and political issues in both the discussion and in the research processes, and analyzes the efforts towards a redistribution of power between Western and Inuit society in the North. In completing this analysis, the study produces and demonstrates the need for increased consciousness within natural resource management concerning the implications of an interest in traditional ecological knowledge.