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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Being thorough : cumulative effects in resurgent Gitxaała Schmid, Katrin


Gitxaała Nation is currently under increasing social and political pressure from both the provincial and federal governments, as well as from multi-national natural resource corporations. In this region, decisions are being made today about our future energy sources, the ways we value people, places, and beings, and about whose voices matter. Based on data from ethnographic fieldwork and semi-structured interviews, conducted by the author with 19 Gitxaała harvesters, this thesis examines cumulative effects (CE), as perceived by interviewees, to two valued components identified by Gitxaała: food security and access to resources. Focussing on the case studies of red laver seaweed and salmon, I put these effects in conversation with the effects of ongoing settler colonialism and anthropogenic climate change. Taking a desire-centered approach to this project, I highlight Gitxaała management strategies by applying an Indigenous resurgence framework to the inquiry of local pathways of effects (PoE) and the influence of community action in altering these pathways. Through these analyses, I come to the following conclusions: Seaweed is largely affected by processes such as warming waters and a shorter winter season, caused by global climate change. Gitxaała harvesters’ capacity to pick seaweed is limited by their economic situation, and the time they are able to dedicate to managing and harvesting the seaweed as a result. Salmon is also impacted by anthropogenic climate change, while overfishing and habitat destruction create further challenges for local salmon populations. The exclusionist construction of the commercial fishing industry, and the diminishment of intergenerational knowledge transfer are two fundamental obstacles to harvesting Gitxaała is facing today. Supporting Gitxaała citizens’ intergenerational engagement in respectful harvesting, habitat monitoring and language development are key ways to alter PoEs to the territory and people today and into the future. Finally, I urge anthropologists to apply CE to studies of localized experiences of change and resurgent action in an effort to be maǥonsk, meaning “thorough”, in their research.

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