Ask NRCan – Traditional Knowledge Podcast

 

Transcript

  • Welcome everyone to the very first episode of “Ask NRCan”, it’s a new podcast series where we discuss topics relating to the science that we do here at Natural Resources Canada (or NRCan for short).
  • The way it works is that we’ll introduce a topic, we’ll discuss it with one our NRCan experts, and then we’ll look to you to continue the conversation over social media.
  • At the end of the episode, if you have any questions on today’s topic, we strongly encourage you to go on Twitter and tweet at us using the hashtag “#AskNRCAN”. Our expert will do his or her best to answer all relevant questions.
  • Sounds good?  Ok, on with the show…
  • The topic we are discussing today is “the use of traditional knowledge to complement and supplement the scientific work that we do here at NRCan”.
  • So what do we mean by traditional knowledge? A definition has never been agreed upon but could be perhaps described as knowledge, know-how, skills and practices within a community that’s developed and passed down from generation to generation.
  • Our guest today is Dr. Jennifer Galloway. She’s a Research Scientist with the Geological Survey of Canada here at NRCan.  Dr. Galloway graduated from Queen’s University with an Honours Degree Bachelor of Science in Biology, and from Carleton University with a PhD in Earth Sciences. In addition to working at NRCan, she is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor at both the University of Calgary and Carleton University.
  • Dr. Galloway’s research expertise is in palynology – the study of pollen and spores and other organic walled microfossils. She studies pollen and spores preserved in rocks, lake and marine sediments, and peatlands to reconstruct past climate, vegetation, and environmental change.
  • Dr. Galloway is based out of Calgary, but is currently working on a project taking place in the Northwest Territories that involves incorporating traditional knowledge with scientific knowledge.
  • Dr. Galloway, thank you for joining us today.

Dr. Jennifer Galloway

  • Thank you for having me.

Host

  • First off, can you tell us a little bit about the project you are working on in the Northwest Territories?

Dr. Jennifer Galloway

  • Yes. So, our project is a three-year project that is jointly funded by Polar Knowledge Canada, which is a branch of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, and Natural Resources Canada, the Geological Survey of Canada. And the goal of our project is to study climate change impacts on the transport and fate of metal and metalloids in high-latitude regions. So the title of our project is Geoscience Tools for Environmental Risk Assessment of Metal Mining. And this project is a large collaborative project involving many different groups and institutions in government, academia, industry and First Nation communities and is jointly led by myself and Professor Tim Patterson at Carleton University. And the Indigenous communities involved in our study are the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, the Tlicho Government, the North Slave Metis Alliance and a Kitikmeot Inuit group.

Host

  • And, this project is taking place in Yellowknife, or near Yellowknife?

Dr. Jennifer Galloway

  • Our project is focused in the central Northwest Territories and the southern mainland area of Nunavut within the mineral-rich Slave Geological Province. And the goal of our project is to establish background levels and fluxes of metal and metaloids to the environment, and we want to understand how climate change, both past climate change and future climate change, will impact the transport and fate of metals and metalloids in these environments. And so we focused our work so far in the Yellowknife area, where about 65 years of gold mining at the former Giant Mine, as well as other smaller gold mines, have resulted in the widespread deposition of arsenic. We are also focusing research in the central Northwest Territories at the Tundra/Salmita Mine site, and we hope to be able to access the Hope Bay area in southern Nunavut, where a new gold mine is starting production.

Host

  • So, you incorporate Traditional Knowledge as part of the research for this project. Why is that so important? What can Traditional Knowledge tell you?

Dr. Jennifer Galloway

  • Okay, so traditional knowledge, although there hasn’t been a definition agreed upon, can be summarized as a knowledge system that provides information on subsistence, ecological knowledge, climate and processes. And in the North, where there has been a long history of extract development, traditional knowledge can also provide information about the long-term environmental legacy of these developments on communities and the environment. Traditional knowledge can provide information that is complementary to the data derived from our western science-knowledge system, but it can also provide new insights on past climate, environmental and land-use changes that can’t be derived from many other sources. So, we are working with Indigenous communities within our study area to develop a unique knowledge system that has produced or could produce information that can be combined with data derived from our western geoscience to provide insight into past climate change and the environmental and cultural impact on or from legacy mining and climate change together. So, for example, the North Slave Metis Alliance has produced a project study where they reviewed historical records and also interviewed community members — and this provided a wealth of information on past temperature data, precipitation trends and ice conditions that can be compared with our reconstructions based on paleoecological proxies. We are also working with the Yellowknives Dene First Nation — and this community holds a wealth of knowledge on former Giant Mine practices and associated impacts on the environment and their communities — and this will be extremely helpful in our interpretation of legacy contamination in this region.

Host

  • Incorporating traditional knowledge is becoming more prominent at NRCan. How do you see this initiative evolving going forward?

Dr. Jennifer Galloway

  • Okay, so I believe it is critical to involve local peoples and communities and their knowledge in any land-use decision-making process. Traditional knowledge, community knowledge and citizen science and their integration in western science and their use in land-use decision-making are emerging across Canada. And inclusion of local perspectives is especially relevant in northern Canada, and this is because of the cyclical nature of remote natural resource development that can lead to the sudden closure and abandonment of mines and projects. And of course it’s the local peoples and Indigenous communities that will be left to deal with any environmental problems that are the legacy of these activities. So, any environmental legacy associated with resource extraction will be especially pronounced in northern regions. And this is because of high northern latitudes: for one, they have relatively slow environmental processes that are involved in ecological recovery, and two, because the North is undergoing rapid climate change at present. And this is predicted to continue into the future.
  • And I would like to just end today by saying thank you for having me and thank you to my management at the Geological Survey of Canada for their support on the project.

Host

  • Dr. Galloway, thank you very much for your time.
  • Now’s the point of the episode where we ask you to continue the conversation over social media. If you have questions for Dr. Galloway, or if you have comments on the episode, we’d like you to get on Twitter and tweet at us using the hashtag “#AskNRCan”.
  • Also, if you are interested in learning more about this subject, we encourage you to visit our Science@NRCan website at www.nrcan.gc.ca/science/home and look for the article on “Traditional Knowledge”. We’ll have links available to any relevant material.
  • And while you’re there, take the time to browse the site.  We have tons of interesting information for you. We have articles, scientist profiles, and our Science at Work video series that showcases the science that NRCan conducts and its impact on the lives of Canadians

Well, this concludes our first episode of Ask NRCan. Thank you for joining us today! We look forward to hearing from you, and we’ll see you next time.

 
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