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Uncommon Waters: Intercultural Conflict over the Atlantic Salmon of the Restigouche Watershed

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Title: Uncommon Waters: Intercultural Conflict over the Atlantic Salmon of the Restigouche Watershed
Author: Booth, Stephen P
Department: School of Environmental Design and Rural Development
Program: Rural Studies
Advisor: FitzGibbon, John
Abstract: In a 10-year participatory case study of conflicted communities, the author describes the historical, social, economic, rural and legal contexts of their conflict in relation to the survival of their Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultures and of the Atlantic salmon, each of which is in jeopardy of extinction. A thick description of the communities in relation to one another and to their place, Listuguj First Nation, Gespe’gewaq, Mi’gmaqi; the Restigouche watershed of northern New Brunswick and the Gaspé, and to the Atlantic salmon on which they depend, was constructed through semi-structured interviews with representative members of each community, together with long-term attendance at salmon-centred community events, ranging from scientific to ceremonial and trust-and-relationship-building informal conversations, supported an iterative methodology designed to honour Indigenous knowledge and methods. Theories of social learning, social capital, bridging, and bonding have been applied to the thick description, revealing a combination of socio-economic-political and epistemological-ontological differences between Indigenous and non-Indigenous rights and stakeholders to be central to continuing conflict and failure to resolve what is understood by non-Indigenous groups as “natural-resource management” for “conservation” and to continuing Indigenous resistance to scientific management. In the current context of unresolved issues of territory, consent, reconciliation, cooperation, and collaboration between Canada’s First Nations and its federal and provincial governments, this case study provides insights into necessary pre-conditions for their resolution.
Date: 2019-02
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