Nı́o Nę P’ęnę́ – Trails of the Mountain Caribou: Renewing Indigenous Relationships in Conservation

Nı́o Nę P’ęnę́ – Trails of the Mountain Caribou:
Renewing Indigenous Relationships in Conservation

Principal Investigator: Leon Andrew (Sahtú Renewable Resources Board)

Opportunity: For Mountain Dene/Dena of Tulı́ t’a, Norman Wells and Tu Łidlini (the community of Ross River, Yukon Territory), Nı́ o Nę P’ęnę́ encompasses all of nature – it’s what holds everything together and attracts wildlife. The area has been a gathering place for people and caribou for thousands of years.

Objectives: The focal points of the research are the health of bedzih / shúhta goɂepę́ (mountain caribou) and Dene ts’ı̨ lı̨ (ways of life). We chose bedzih / shúhta goɂepę́ to be the focus of our planning work at Nío Nę P’ęnę́ because mountain caribou are critical to the health of the land and to our Dene culture. The three partnering communities in this program are developing a plan for research, monitoring and land protection to achieve their vision for keeping Dene kǝdǝ (language), Dene ts’ı̨ lı̨ (ways of life), and Dene ɂeɂa/ɂa (law) strong in coexistence with caribou.

Research Plan: The program team embraces an approach involving a robust combination of Indigenous methodologies and scientific inquiry. Indigenous community participants will guide all phases of the research cycle, including design, implementation, analysis, knowledge dissemination and knowledge mobilization. While not all aspects of technical work can be located in the communities, where possible a learning approach will be taken to supporting Indigenous community members to be conducting the work, with appropriate supports. Methods will include: focus groups; interviews; community-based mapping, modelling, and genetic sampling; and the collecting of samples and ground-truthing landscape data via remote sensing.

Key Outcomes & Impact: The outcome will be a body of evidence about the biocultural significance of the Nı́ o Nę P’ęnę́ area, as well as a framework for caribou conservation and habitat protection. The three-year program will support the establishment of Indigenous-led Guardian and land protection initiatives and will help to set the standard for defining the nature of such initiatives in Canada.

February 2020 Presentation: Nío Nę P’ęnę́ Begháré Shúhta Goɂepę́ Narehɂá – Trails of the Mountain Caribou

Other Team Members:
Gordon Yakeleya (Tulı́ t’a Ɂehdzo Got’ı̨nę – Renewable Resources Council)
Rhea McDonald (Norman Wells Ɂehdzo Got’ı̨nę – Renewable Resources Council),
Norman Sterriah (Ross River Lands Department/Dena Council)
 Norman Barichello (Ross River Dena Council)
Micheline Manseau (Trent University)
Deborah Simmons (Sahtú Renewable Resources Board/University of Toronto)