Researcher: Stephanie Woodworth, PhD (2018–present)
Supervisors: Sonia Wesche (University of Ottawa) and Andrew Spring (Laurier)
Innovative on-the-land camps are planned with community partners in the Northwest Territories (NWT) over the next three years to engage and empower Indigenous youth to be Guardians of their communities. The on-the-land education camps feature traditional activities led by elders and knowledge keepers, and hands-on science-based learning activities led by Northern Water Futures (NWF) researchers.
My thesis project evaluates these on-the-land camps in the NWT in terms of the co-production of knowledge between science and Indigenous knowledges, whether the community goals are achieved, and how the camps engage and empower youth through traditional and scientific activities. Overall, I am exploring how the on-the-land education camps in the NWT empower youth to be future Guardians in their communities, as well as promote a common cross-cultural understanding of water knowledge and concepts of risk between community members and researchers. During the on-the-land camp experience, youth learn scientific inquiry, techniques and mapping technology to measure changes in water quality, permafrost conditions, and ecological function. The camps also include traditional knowledge holders who share Indigenous perspectives on the land and water. Together, science and traditional knowledge empower the youth through activities and games.
This intensive, experiential format is preferred by communities in the North, as it fosters relationship building, mutual understanding and culturally appropriate forms of learning. As youth are important stakeholders in the North, opportunities to learn from both elders and researchers on the land will shape their abilities to be future leaders in their communities and inspire them to become involved in research and monitoring.