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Impacts of harvested species declines on Indigenous Peoples’ food sovereignty, well-being and ways of life: a case study of Anishinaabe perspectives and moose

Pauline Priadka, School of Environmental Sciences, University of Guelph
Brittany Moses, Sustainable Development Department, Biigtigong Nishnaabeg
Cory Kozmik, Lands, Resources and Environment Department, Magnetawan First Nation
Steven Kell, Lands and Resource Department, Shawanaga First Nation
Jesse N Popp, School of Environmental Sciences, University of Guelph

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-12995-270130

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Abstract

Global declines in wildlife are increasing the vulnerability of Indigenous communities to food insecurity. Meanwhile, many colonial policies continue to ignore social-ecological relationships that have traditionally maintained a balance between wildlife and Indigenous Peoples’ subsistence needs. We provide a case study on perspectives and insights from three Anishinaabe Nations in Ontario, Canada on the importance of a traditional food, moose (mooz [Nishnaabemowin]; Alces alces), and how changes in the moose population are affecting food security, well-being, and ways of life. In partnership with each Nation, we conducted interviews with community members and related observations on change in the moose population to estimates of moose abundance and non-Indigenous harvest collected by the Ontario provincial government over a 16-year time frame (2001–2016). Moose was described as important for subsistence needs as well as for maintaining Anishinabek culture, traditions, and identity within each community. A decline in the moose population was observed by most participants, which corresponded with provincial data on moose abundance. Additionally, the number of non-Indigenous hunters per moose harvested on traditional territories increased linearly over time, and community members expressed concern over how the province was managing moose. The effects of moose decline in the communities included reduced food security and health, increased financial costs due to both relying more on store-bought foods and having to travel further to harvest moose, as well as a decline in the practice of traditions and ceremonies surrounding moose harvest and passing this knowledge on to younger generations. Despite the potential impacts on Indigenous subsistence harvest, there is a lack of collaborative decision-making with Indigenous communities on moose population and harvest management in Ontario. Using community perspectives and insights, we discuss how autonomous moose monitoring can support and facilitate co-management and collaborative decision-making to reinstate Indigenous food sovereignty.

Key words

co-management; food security; Indigenous knowledge; reconciliation; traditional food; traditional knowledge; wildlife harvesting; wildlife management

Copyright © 2022 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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