KNO2: Traditional Knowledge and science under a co-production of knowledge

Date: Wednesday October 10, 2018

Location: Tieva, Lappia Hall

Time: 8:30-10:00

The co-production of knowledge is a process where multiple actors come together on equal footing to combine epistemologies and methodologies to develop a collective way of knowing. Both Traditional Knowledge and scientific knowledge have unique ways of conceptualizing and understanding the environment and Arctic biodiversity. In this session speakers explore these ways of knowing and their own experiences of co-production of knowledge, providing lessons learned for wider application.

Chairs: Carolina Behe, Inuit Circumpolar Council; Victoria Buschman, University of Washington

Format: Series of presentations followed by discussion


  • How Indigenous Knowledge and science partner to build evidence-based information for use in adaptive decision making and conservation planning: Victoria Buschman, University of Washington pdf
  • Traditional knowledge and so called western science, does that fit (work) together for securing biodiversity? Jürgen Weissenberger, Equinorpdf
  • Understanding the Arctic through a co-production of knowledge: Carolina Behe, Inuit Circumpolar Councilpdf
  • Wildlife co-management processes under Canadian Land Claims Agreements: Drivers for the co-production of knowledge: Gregor Gilbert, Makivik Corporationpdf
  • The Aquatic Effects Monitoring Program (AEMP) and how Traditional Knowledge is incorporated as a line of evidence: Alexandra Hood, De Beers Canada Inc.pdf



How Indigenous Knowledge and science partner to build evidence-based information for use in adaptive decision making and conservation planning

Victoria Buschman, University of Washington; Carolina Behe, Inuit Circumpolar Council Alaska, USA

In a win for conservation, Arctic communities are more frequently being called upon to partner with scientists, managers, and planners to build evidence-based information for use in decision making and policy. Both Indigenous knowledge and conventional science bring unique information to the table - information that is greatly needed in the crisis discipline that is conservation. As many Indigenous Peoples have occupied the same landscape for time immemorial, they have incredible reservoirs of place-based natural history knowledge that has immense conservation value for managing harvests, conducting biodiversity assessments, and establishing community-based monitoring. A lack of understanding of the systems and processes that support Indigenous knowledge has called into question how such information should be included in research findings and policy briefs across disciplines. While conventional science relies on a standardized scientific process and peer review, Indigenous knowledge relies on cultural practice, Indigenous knowledge, and intergenerational exchange. Collectively, this convergence of information is considered a co-production of knowledge. From baseline construction, to data collection, to ecosystem monitoring, to analysis, each way of knowing supplies methodologies and tools that provides an understanding that could not be gained through science alone. We will explore what this information partnership looks like, how we reconcile inconsistencies in findings, potential ethical concerns, and how a standardized process for blending the information discounts science and its potential in conservation efforts.


Traditional knowledge and so called western science, does that fit (work) together for securing biodiversity?

Jürgen Weissenberger, Statoil ASA

The Arctic has been inhabited by people for a long time, some settlements have been on the same location for at least the last 10 000 years. Surviving in what are often harsh and remote conditions requires a high level of knowledge and understanding about the environment, its dynamics and its processes. Native people have accumulated that knowledge over generations and constantly add new knowledge by on site observations. Industry representatives undertaking activities in the Arctic and elsewhere have often been asked by local stakeholders, (native people and other local people) if this wealth of knowledge is used when exploring and exploiting and area and within risk assessment. We see that many scientists are sceptical to use that knowledge, since it has been created with methods that differ from those taught in western science education. The TEKAD project run by Statoil in Alaska tried to bridge this gap. The basis for the work was our belief that a good scientist is a person with good skills to observe and analyse, irrespective of formal education and background. We wanted to combine both sources of knowledge, increase mutual understanding and deliver examples of concrete results from this effort. We show how such a study has been planned, how it was conducted and how results were obtained and communicated. It is a comparable small and focused study on the impact of noise on marine mammals, but we think this was one of the reasons that it was a success.


Understanding the Arctic through a co-production of knowledge

Carolina Behe, Inuit Circumpolar Council; Raychelle Daniel The Pew Charitable Trusts, Julie Raymond-Yakoubian, Kawerak, Inc

The Arctic is changing at an accelerated rate due to climate change and increased anthropogenic activity. Given the rate of change, never has it been more important to work toward a holistic understanding of the Arctic’s interconnecting systems. A co-production of knowledge framework will provide the holistic view and comprehension needed to inform effective and adaptive policies and practices. Co-production of knowledge is increasingly being recognized by the scientific community at-large. However, in many instances the concept is being incorrectly applied. In this workshop we will differentiate co-production of knowledge from a multi-disciplinary approach or multi-evidence based decision-making. We underscore the role and value of different knowledge systems with different methodologies and the need for collaborative approaches in identifying research questions. We hope that participants come away from this workshop with an understanding of some of the most important components that form a co-production of knowledge framework. We anticipate an open and respectful dialogue that builds on our collective experience in working with Indigenous communities and scientists in the Arctic.


Wildlife co-management processes under Canadian Land Claims Agreements: Drivers for the co-production of knowledge

Gregor Gilbert, Makivik Corporation

In Canada’s Arctic, most terrestrial and marine wildlife is managed by wildlife co-management boards, who derive their authority from constitutionally-protected Land Claims Agreements. Under this co-management model, one of the legal requirements placed upon the wildlife co-management boards is the inclusion of Traditional Knowledge in their decision-making processes. In many cases, however, Traditional Knowledge has not been gathered in a systematic manner that allows for its meaningful inclusion in decision-making. Furthermore, documentation is often lacking, making Traditional Knowledge inaccessible to most policy makers. Equally, for the majority of Arctic species, long-term scientific data does not exist. Faced with having to make management decisions despite numerous data gaps and uncertainty, co-management boards are increasingly collecting their own data; commissioning Traditional Knowledge studies and investing in community-based monitoring and targeted scientific studies to inform sound decision-making. This presentation will examine the legal context under which Canadian wildlife co-management boards operate, and provide several examples where co-management boards have undertaken or supported Traditional Knowledge studies and the collection of scientific data. For instance, the Joint Secretariat under the Inuvialuit Final Agreement undertook an Inuit Knowledge Study of polar bears. This was valuable not only for the information that it compiled and synthesized, but also for making Inuit Knowledge as accessible as scientific knowledge for co-management decision-making. Another example is a pilot program established by The Nunavik Marine Region Wildlife Board studying beluga whales. Through this program local hunters and the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada are working cooperatively to test theories on stock composition and the timing of migration. Further, the example of this pilot project relates to the final section of the presentation which will examine how the co-production of knowledge has been leveraged by the boards in their decision-making processes and the outcomes of these decisions.


The Aquatic Effects Monitoring Program (AEMP) and how Traditional Knowledge is incorporated as a line of evidence

Alexandra Hood, De Beers Canada Inc.

Throughout 2017, De Beers continued to seek input from Aboriginal people regarding practices at site, and the current state of the environment from their perspective. Engagement activities of this type in 2017 included many community workshops and site visits, as well as a mine rock amendment workshop and a technical workshop relating to closure criteria, which are part of the Interim Closure and Reclamation Plan. De Beers invited six Aboriginal parties to visit the Mine site during the summer of 2017 to view Mine activities for themselves and to provide insights and feedback. All six parties were able to attend these site visits: the TG, the NWTMN, the Yellowknives Dene First Nation (YKDFN), the NSMA, the DKFN, and the LKDFN. Summer site visits included a site tour as well as discussions on the additional mine rock and environmental monitoring and performance. De Beers hosted the Mine’s second annual fish tasting program in September 2017. The purpose of the fish tasting event was to allow local elders to provide their observations on fish health and edibility (i.e., aesthetics, flavour, and texture) in the Kennady Lake watershed compared to what they are accustomed to from the regional area. The fish tasting event also served as a gathering where local elders and De Beers employees could qualitatively evaluate the condition of large-bodied fish (Lake Trout, Salvelinus namaycush) in the core lakes, and provide observations on their suitability for human and animal consumption. De Beers completes an extensive assessment of fish health in the annual Aquatic Effects Monitoring Program (AEMP). However, the monitoring methods within the AEMP are rooted in quantitative measurements, and are not the only manner in which to evaluate fish health. Fish tasting provides an additional layer of valuable qualitative data collection to ensure the Mine is not adversely impacting the environment. Hosting the fish tasting event was also a means of sharing TK about fish in the North and incorporating it into the Mine’s approach to environmental management. In maintaining this objective, De Beers included employees in the fish tasting to give them the opportunity to learn from the elders. Elders from several communities within the NWT, including the DKFN, LKDFN, NSMA, NWTMN, and TG, attended the second annual fish tasting event. A total of 11 elders and 5 De Beers staff participated in the 2017 fish tasting.

Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter
Subscribe to our YouTube Channel
Join our LinkedIn Group
Check us out on Google+
Follow Us on Instagam
Follow Us on Flickr