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Anishinaabe Adaptation to Environmental Change in Northwestern Ontario: a Case Study in Knowledge Coproduction for Nontimber Forest Products

Iain J Davidson-Hunt, Natural Resources Institute, University of Manitoba
C. Julián Idrobo, Natural Resources Institute, University of Manitoba
Ryan D. Pengelly, HTFC Planning & Design
Olivia Sylvester, Natural Resources Institute, University of Manitoba


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Interaction, negotiation, and sharing knowledge are at the heart of indigenous response to global environmental change. We consider Anishinaabe efforts to devise new institutional arrangements in response to the process of colonialism and changing global markets. Our findings are based on collaborative research undertaken with Anishinaabe colleagues from Pikangikum First Nation, northwestern Ontario. We worked with elders to understand their knowledge, preferences, and opinions regarding appropriate institutional arrangements for the co-production of knowledge required to develop nontimber forest products. We began our research by asking about the values, institutions, and conditions that guide plant harvesting, and then the conditions necessary to coproduce new knowledge regarding plant products with external partners. Results were discussed during focus groups and community meetings, and were modified based on that feedback. This research resulted in a framework based on the values, institutions, and conditions that are necessary for the coproduction of new knowledge. In this framework, Pikangikum people—through Anishinaabe teachings and collaborative partnerships—guide knowledge coproduction through meaningful participation as research advisors in the development of knowledge, institutions, and technologies. Coproducing knowledge in response to environmental change requires new institutional arrangements that provide community control, meaningful collaboration and partnerships, and significant benefit sharing with Pikangikum people.

Key words

Anishinaabe; boreal forest; Canada; coproduction of knowledge; global environmental change
Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087