From L’sitkuk to Kejimkujik

2013-2014

AAHRP Community Research Grant

This research project has two focus areas. Firstly, we are engaging with and aim to analyze L’sitkuk / Bear River First Nation (BRFN)’s efforts to exercise their sacred stewardship responsibilities for the lands and waters of their traditional territory of Kespukwitk; as part of larger community efforts towards building a holistic vision for community and environmental health. This vision is articulated in the BRFN Community Health Evaluation and Needs Assessment (BRFN 2009): “We, the people of the BRFN, will work towards healing our minds, bodies, spirits and environment.” These efforts are grounded in a renewed engagement with the concept of Netukulimk; and contextualized by a decade-long cross-cultural dialogue between BRFN and neighboring non-native groups and government agencies regarding recognition of treaty rights, watershed management, sustainable harvesting, accessing traditional hunting and fishing areas, and community food security. All of these are key determinants of community and environmental health (Reading & Wien 2009).

Specifically, our research will be grounded in the Seven Paddles: From L’sitkuk to Kejimkujik project, a watershed/forestry restoration and eco-tourism initiative covering 170,000 acres of land surrounding the present-day Bear River First Nation reserve. Seven Paddles aims to reclaim and restore the canoe routes that once connected the Fundy coast to Kejimkujik National Park and beyond; and to re/connect the People of L’sitkuk to lands and waters their ancestors travelled for more than 4000 years (BRFN 2010). Using Photovoice and participatory video methods, our research will explore youth perspectives about the value of re/connecting with traditional lands in relation to their vision for holistic health.

Secondly, we aim to investigate innovative models for Aboriginal research by examining the ethical considerations, cultural appropriateness and the impacts of incorporating collaborative arts-based approaches within Participatory Action Research (PAR).