The Skownan First Nation Model for sustainable development and Aboriginal stewardship

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Stock, Karen S. E.
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This dissertation defines the 'Skownan Model.' It is a model of sustainable Aboriginal land/resource development and management. There is increasing demand to find alternative solutions to natural resources allocation and management in Canada. Aboriginal communities play an increasingly more dominant role in these issues due to their special role in Canadian society. They have distinct historic developments, administrative bodies and legal frameworks that are different from other rural communities in Canada. Managing natural areas to maintain bio-diversity and ecological integrity while gaining economic returns from renewable resources is increasingly challenging in a global economy. The main objective of this research was to develop the 'Skownan Model' in order to engage in devising strategies pertaining to anticipated land and resource developments within Skownan's traditional land-use territory. The model presents a synthesis of the theories of sustainable development and Aboriginal worldview. Sustainable development is founded in the philosophy of using resources to meet present and future needs. Fundamental to Aboriginal worldviews is the spiritual core of human existence on earth in close relationship to the land with all its resources. In the view of Skownan First Nation, if the land is cared for it will always provide. The Skownan Model at its core involves using protected area status as a legal vehicle to ensure sustainable use of traditional lands. This dissertation contains a number of research components that buid the model. The research and the researcher are part of the research process. This is part of advocacy research. In the Canadian context advocacy research often supports Aboriginal communities Following a traditional land-use study, an environmental impact assessment, participation in the Clean Environment Hearings in the fall of 1997, an archaeological survey and active involvement in the 'Action Plan for Manitoba's Network of Protected Areas', Skownan First Nation was successful in redirecting the proposed resource extraction plan to one of resource protection. Skownan First Nation managed to achieve modification of the external development plans to more appropriately accommodate its needs and values. Establishing a solid foundation of scientific information was fundamental to this process. This dissertation summarizes a number of research projects that were conducted over the years and illustrates the developments in chronological order. The community-based research process led to the development of 'The Skownan First Nation Model for Sustainable Development and Aboriginal Stewardship' (in short the Skownan Model). Skownan First Nation has made important contributions to sustainable development with multiple natural resources developments in the Skownan Resource Area. The establishment of the Skownan Fur Block, development of the Chitek and Inland Lake Fisheries, the establishment of the Chitek Lake Wood Bison Herd and the Chitek Lake Interim Protected Area are analyzed.