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Forests and Oceans for the Future
Research Group

The Forests and Oceans for the Future Research Group at UBC consists of faculty, students, and community members who are interested in identifying meaningful solutions and policy alternatives to contemporary resource management problems. Our research group members are involved in projects that, while focused on north coast British Columbia, also include research in Alaska, the Fraser River, New England, Western Europe, and New Zealand.

The following agencies have provided support and assistance to this project:

Forest Renewal of B.C.
Climate Change and Adaptations program of Natural Resources Canada
Departments of Anthropology and Sociology, UBC
Forest Innovation Investment (BC Government)
Forest Science Program (BC Government)
Gitxaała Nation
Social Sciences and Humanities research Council of Canada

Research Group Co-ordinator
Charles R. Menzies, Ph.D
Associate Professor of Anthropology
Dept. of Anthropology
University of British Columbia

Current Group Members
Ernie Bolton, Gitxaała Nation
Merle Bolton, Gitxaała Nation
Caroline Butler, M.A., Ph.D., University of Northern BC
Arianne Loranger-Saindon, M.A., Ph.D. Student in Anthropology, UBC
Morgan Moffitt, M.A. Student in Anthropology, UBC
Lauren Rodman, M.A. Student in RMES, UBC
Namoi Smethurst, M.A. Student in Anthropology, UBC

Past Group Members
Robin Anderson, B.A., M.A.
Kimberly Brown, M.A., Ph.D. Research Group Associate
Rachel Donkersloot, M.A., Ph.D. Student in Anthropology, UBC
Sam Lewis, Gitxaała First Nation
Raven McMahon (Gitxaała)
James McDonald, Ph.D, NWCC (Terrace, BC)
Andrew Martindale, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Anthropology, UBC
Patrick Moore, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Anthropology, UBC
Jessica Rogers, B.Sc., M.Sc.
Morgan E. Smith, B.A., M.A.

Curriculum Consultants
Cheryl Aman, B.Ed., M.A., Ph.D.
Kenneth Campbell, B.GS., Consultant
Veronica Ignas, B.Sc., B.Ed., M.Ed., Burnaby School District
Paul Orlowski, B.Sc., B.Ed., Ph.D.
Scott McKeen, B.A., M.A., B.Ed, Vancouver School District
Judy Thompson, B.Sc., B.Ed, Northwest Community College

Project Videographer
Jennifer Rashleigh, The Ethnographic Film Unit at UBC

Technical Support
Kenneth Campbell

The Forests and Oceans for the Future research group originated in a Forest Renewal of BC funded project of the same name that aimed to demonstrate, through extensive research into local ecological knowledge held by Gitxaała people, how local systems of governance and resource management can be more effectively integrated with the models and approaches of K’mksiwah (Euro-Canadian) science. Ongoing projects have developed out of the original project to include concerns with climate change and adaptation, poverty and traditional social support systems, and landscape archaeology. The research is conducted within the lands of the Tsimshian people and the specific territories of walps of the Gitxaała Nation. Projects conducted by members of the research group have three foci:
1) ecological research
2) policy research
3) public education and extension products.

Since time immemorial, Gitxaała people have lived in their territories along the north coast of what is now called British Columbia. Gitxaała laws (Ayawwk) and history (Adaawk) describe in precise detail the relationships of trust, honour and respect that are appropriate for the well-being and continuance of the people, and also define the rights of ownership over land, sea and resources within the territory.

However, since the arrival of the first K’mksiwah (Europeans) in Gitxaała territory in the late 1780s, new forms of resource extraction and expropriation have appeared which ignored, demeaned and displaced the importance of the Ayaawk and Adaawk in managing the territories of Gitxaała. The new industries (such as forestry, fishing, mining) have relied almost completely upon K’mksiwah science for management and regulation.

During the last two decades, the value of traditional ecological knowledge (TEK), such as that reflected in the Gitxaała Adaawk and Ayaawk, has been increasing recognized. TEK tends to derive from a long history of sustainable resource use. It is cumulatively developed over many generations of local commercial and subsistence activities. TEK is dynamic, adapting and changing over time, and tends to reflect an integrated perspective on resources. TEK can provide highly detailed and specific information necessary for the successful management of local ecosystems.

The results of our research group highlight the importance of local-level ecological knowledge in resource management. Furthermore, our results suggest that rather than macro-level planning authorities, resource management should be devolved to local level walps (and their equivalent in other First Nations territories) in conjunction with non-aboriginal people living within the territories. Involvement by individuals, agencies or corporations based outside the region should have a restricted role and limited access to resources and decision-making authority in the local arena.

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