- This event has passed.
Thesis Defence: Food Security in Environmental Assessment in the Northwest Territories’ Mackenzie Valley
December 4 at 9:00 am - 1:00 pm
Tamika Mulders, supervised by Dr. Kevin Hanna, will defend their thesis titled “Food Security in Environmental Assessment in the Northwest Territories’ Mackenzie Valley” in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Earth and Environmental Sciences.
An abstract for Tamika Mulders’ thesis is included below.
Defences are open to all members of the campus community as well as the general public. This defence will be offered in hybrid format. Registration is not required for in person attendance. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to receive the Zoom link for this defence.
Environmental assessment (EA) is an approvals process to determine whether large-scale resource development projects will have significant adverse impacts, and to mitigate these impacts. As many communities in the NWT rely on traditional subsistence harvesting to offset high costs of store-bought foods in the north, resource development projects can affect access to these land-based foods. Food security can be affected through direct environmental impacts such as contaminants, impacts to wildlife and fish habitat, and climate change. Resource development can also have cultural, social, economic and health effects, such as changed perception of the land, reduced traditional knowledge and language transmission, and a shift from traditional economy towards a wage-based economy.
The research purpose is to explore how food security is currently addressed in EA in the NWT’s Mackenzie Valley, under the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act (MVRMA). Further, is there a need for food security to be more explicitly addressed, and if so, how can this best be done? These questions are explored using a three-step approach. A literature review describes the issues of food security and food sovereignty in general, and specific to the north. A qualitative document analysis of three completed Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board (MVEIRB) EA processes determined key themes relating to food security and common topics that arose. Interviews with northern EA practitioners explored their experiences with food security and resource development, and recommendations for improvement.
Addressing food security credibly requires a holistic systems approach, evidence-based decision-making using relevant data collection and monitoring, and by following the lead of communities. Key themes included contaminants and perception of the land, food’s importance to cultural continuity, health and wellbeing, economic factors, environmental and climate factors, access and harvest pressure, and Indigenous sovereignty. The results highlight that while food security itself is unlikely to trigger an EA, impacts to traditionally harvested foods affect culture, well-being and Indigenous food sovereignty and autonomy. Food security is implicit in many project impacts. If issues are not put in the context of food, there is a risk that project mitigations and measures may not appropriately address impacts to people.