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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Communicating "forest" : co-managing crises and opportunities with Northern Secwepemc First Nations and the Province of British Columbia Greskiw, Garth East


The following research inquires about the communication challenges for co-management of natural resources in traditional territories of Secwepemc First Nations. The results will be of interest to First Nations, lands and resource planners of British Columbia and others who are interested in developing acceptable strategies for co-management of indigenous lands with ’post-colonial’ governments. The purpose of the study is to find out how co-management can occur so that learning and continual adaptation to new knowledge is planned. Communication by speaking and listening and by sharing stories continues to be important for maintaining culture--but communication by reading and writing is the dominant method currently used by management authorities. Communication crises occur when traditional ecological knowledge is required to fit within a rigid technology of literacy (Nadasdy 1999). There is little presently known about how the Province of British Columbia and First Nations can communicate so that acceptable co-management of forests can be achieved. Nevertheless, co-management is required as the method for resolving the Canadian constitutional conflict between First Nations’ title and rights and the natural resources jurisdiction of the Province. A hypothesis is tested that the Northern Secwepemc First Nations are leading transformation initiatives toward sustainable management in their territories and that shared knowledge emerges from new growth opportunities in crisis situations. Crises in forest management can create opportunities for cross-scale institutional improvement of co-management if First Nations and Provincial decision-making is shared in learning organizations. The project used the case study survey method for inquiry. Community contact persons provided direction in finding acceptable terms of reference for the project and the cases for study. Interviews were based on questions derived from the current provincial forest-planning framework, the communities’ vision for co-management and from the research of common property resource management by Ostrom (1990) and Pinkerton (1992). The analysis used in this research was tailored to the grounded theory method for data analysis (Glaser 1998). Research findings indicated that there is potential for transformation of forest management in Northern Secwepemc territories in times of crises, however certain conditions, such as adequate staffing, funding and training, must first exist at the site level of management in order to make the best use of emergent opportunities for collaboration. Systemic and democratic conversation among First Nations and provincial planners in British Columbia must be encouraged. This should be accomplished in institutional frameworks that are well supported for local learning organizations to inform management continuously and adaptively, across scales from the site level to the provincial level.

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