UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Collaborative and creative land planning in Canada’s north : supporting wild plant harvest through participatory action research in Whitehorse, Yukon Panchyshyn, Kelly


A 2017 survey of the residents of Whitehorse, Yukon, indicated that over 60% secure at least a portion of their food from foraged sources (City of Whitehorse, 6). Yet, strategies for the protection of wild harvest spaces and practices are seldom addressed within local food and land planning. Working in partnership with the Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN), I examine the impact of omitting harvest from planning and what it would mean to chart a new course. This research reveals that the decision to exclude harvest not only harms northern and Indigenous foodways but perpetuates colonial, capitalist, and patriarchal power dynamics. Ultimately, neglect for harvest cannot be separated from historical and ongoing attempts to undermine the knowledge and authority of Indigenous Peoples and, more specifically, Indigenous women. When activities like plant foraging are deemed feminine, they are left out of land planning on the assumption that they cannot or do not contribute adequately to the financial and physical well-being of the community. Planning projects that do not consider wild plant activities subsequently threaten to displace foragers from the land along with their rights to the land. In this way, the current systems of land management serve the imperialist agendas of Settler nations by centralizing power over land, limiting the diverse claims that Indigenous communities have to the land, and naturalizing gendered hierarchies of land ownership. Conversely, however, our findings also suggest that the inclusion of harvest practices within planning initiatives can help to confront these systems of injustice, advance community wellbeing, strengthen Indigenous self-determination and uphold ecological health. Towards these aims, I have collaborated with Indigenous and non-Indigenous members of the harvest community to develop strategies in support of their practice and to advocate for the inclusion of harvesters in upcoming planning projects.

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