Collaborative approach to research with Indigenous communities highlighted at ReSDA Workshop

WHITEHORSE—Since 2015, Jen Jones—a Trudeau Foundation Scholar, PhD candidate and long-time Yukon resident—has been working alongside Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation (LSCFN) to research how major development projects, such as mines, impact the health and wellbeing of LSCFN citizens.

“We’re in a real period of flux—Carmacks is known as the hub of the Yukon, and there appears to be a lot of interest in resource development around us,” said Alan Steel, LSCFN Executive Director. “Our citizens want to make sure the resources are used with respect, and they want to minimize negative effects on our community.”

Through the course of her research Jones has spent considerable time in Carmacks, attending community events and hosting training and knowledge-sharing workshops. She has also hired citizens to collaborate in developing and conducting surveys.

“We have a responsibility to conduct research not only with our brains, but with our hearts as well,” said Jones. “Hopefully, researchers are listening to community voices, incorporating local perspectives into research activities, and developing long-term relationships where both communities and academics can benefit from the partnership.”

Fostering an authentic partnership with the First Nation is important to Jones. She is striving to ensure that research takes place “with” the community, instead of “on” the community.

At the end of the project, Jones will give the First Nation a toolkit to use as part of the process of evaluating the impacts of future potential development on its citizens. So, LSCFN will own and control the data.
“As a researcher, she has been an integral part of the community for the past few years and we’re looking forward to the culmination of her work,” said Steel.

Jones will be one of the panelists sharing her experience at the Indigenous Involvement and Partnerships in Research session at the Resources and Sustainable Development in the Arctic (ReSDA) Workshop this week. It will be held Wednesday, October 18 to Friday, October 20, 2017, at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre in Whitehorse.

This year’s workshop will highlight the results and activities of the network’s first seven years of ReSDA’s research. Session topics include: northern research ethics, communicating research, and economics, environments and agreements.

As part of the workshop, there is also a free public double feature screening at the Yukon Beringia Centre on Thursday, October 19. Guardians of Eternity, a documentary about the toxic legacy of the Giant Mine in N.W.T., will screen at 7:00 p.m., followed by The Bishop who ate his Boots, a film about Bishop Stringer. Filmmakers will be in attendance.

For a full list of sessions and events visit:

Based at Yukon College, ReSDA aims to find ways to ensure that a larger share of the benefits of resource development in the Arctic stay in the region with fewer costs to northern communities. Research will aim to better understand how the sustainable development of Arctic natural resources can be pursued in a manner that improves the health and well-being of northern communities and conserves the northern environment.