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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Growing deep roots : learning from the Essipit's culturally adapted model of Aboriginal forestry Beaudoin, Jean-Michel


Aboriginal peoples are seeking sustainable ways to steward and develop forests. Sustainable forestry is central to Aboriginal life and culture. Research indicates that the industrial forestry model has failed to address their socio-economic needs. To date, Aboriginal involvement in forestry is characterized by a limited economic role in forest development, limited influence over forest management, and an inability to integrate Aboriginal culture and values. The case study of Essipit (Quebec, Canada) provides new insight on how Aboriginal communities can contribute to sustainable forestry. Growing deep roots means using a culturally adapted model of forestry that is consistent with Aboriginal culture and values, which is therefore more likely to support long-term social change and economic growth. To ensure reliability and validity, this research employed four data gathering techniques: observation, documentation, interviews and focus-groups. Results identify the entrepreneurship framework that led to the success of Aboriginal forest enterprises in Essipit, the level of authority held by Essipit over forest governance, and Essipit objectives for forest-based development. Therefore, this thesis provides a framework that aims to support Aboriginal forest development in theory and practice. Despite constraints, such as timber access, capacity and institutions, Essipit was successful in engaging in forestry. Acquiring exclusive commercial rights to harvest wildlife became a key strategy that allowed Essipit to address social needs and create leverage for future forest-based activities. Essipit innovated in forest governance: they created a partnership with the forest company Boisaco and, thus, gained authority over forest management decisions at the operational level. Results indicate that the profitability motives of the forest industry are iii insufficient, because Essipit has other objectives and priorities. The forest industry looks primarily at the tree, while Essipit looks at everything that surrounds and supports it. This research emphasizes the importance of developing a model that will outlast changes in government or industry. A forestry model that has deep roots is integrated into the community and the culture. It can sustain these types of changes and keep growing. Without this understanding of Aboriginal experiences, knowledge and objectives, local initiatives and government policies will remain uninformed and, potentially, fail.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada