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Research

This page is intended to help external researchers understand the existing processes for research in the Gwich’in Settlement Area (GSA). Here, you will find a reminder of our mandate, our research priorities and a list of community research interests. You will also find instructions on how to engage with us depending on the type of support you seek. This page should help if you:

(1) want to work with the Gwich’in Renewable Resources Board (GRRB)

(2) want to address community research interests

(3) want advice on the best practices for conducting research in the GSA.

We strongly encourage all researchers to read this page prior to contacting our office or the communities, as we hope it will help answer some of your questions and give guidance on your next steps.

Our Mandate

The Gwich’in Renewable Resources Board (GRRB) is the main instrument of wildlife, fish and forest management in the Gwich’in Settlement Area (GSA) in the Northwest Territories of Canada. Our mandate, based on Section 12.8 of the Gwich’in Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement, is to conduct and participate in wildlife research studies in the GSA and to encourage research that aligns with the communities’ interests and concerns. We act in the public interest, representing all the parties of the Gwich’in Comprehensive Land Claim Settlement – the Gwich’in, the people of the Northwest Territories and all Canadians.

The Board is a regional organization and is independent. Each community (Aklavik, Fort McPherson, Inuvik and Tsiigehtchic) has its own Renewable Resources Council (RRC) with which the GRRB works closely. The RRCs are independent institutions that have mandates to encourage and promote local involvement in conservation, harvesting studies, research and wildlife management. The RRCs are the eyes and ears of the land and they provide advice on all the work GRRB does, including the identification of research interests at the community level.

Our Involvement in Research

The Gwich’in Renewable Resources Board (GRRB) staff are involved in the following research activities:

Direct involvement

  • Reviewing and providing feedback on scientific research applications (i.e. Aurora Research Institute applications)
  • Developing partnerships
  • Conducting research

Indirect involvement

  • Assisting with research, either directly or in-kind
  • Providing letters of support
  • Funding for research and youth work experience
  • Lending equipment (e.g. skidoo, boat, field supplies)
  • Offering best practice advice and contact information for community Renewable Resources Councils

Note that our level of involvement is related to how closely the project addresses our priorities.

Communities' Research Interests

On an ongoing basis, Gwich’in Renewable Resources Board (GRRB) staff members visit the communities and the Renewable Resources Councils (RRCs) in the Gwich’in Settlement Area (GSA). These meetings lead to the production of the Research and Management Interests of the GSA (linked below), which lists all research interests and concerns that have arisen so far.

2018 Research and Management Interests for the GSA PDF

Why is this list valuable for a researcher?
This list includes every interest the GRRB has heard directly either from community members, RRCs and/or management plans. It does not necessarily fall within the GRRB’s mandate, but it does represent true interests for research and management projects. This list is valuable because it offers researchers insights into the project interests of community members in the GSA. We encourage sharing this list broadly. Please note that we do not keep an up-to-date status on the items added to the list; this means that some of these interests may already have existing research or may already have been addressed.

Research Priorities

Every five years, the Gwich’in Renewable Resources Board (GRRB) assesses each component of the Research and Management Interests for the GSA list, based on several Board approved criteria and attributes priority scores. Research interests with the highest priority scores will constitute the GRRB Research and Management Priorities list, displayed in the table below for the period of 2018 to 2023. This indicates which research projects the GRRB will support and participate in over the next five years.

GRRB Research and Management Priorities 2018-2023

Topics

Approaches

Caribou
Moose
Dall’s sheep
Muskox
Grizzly Bear
Muskrat & Beaver
Dolly Varden Char
Species at Risk
Forest Vegetation & Health
Climate Change

Traditional Management:

The GRRB understands Traditional Management to be the ways in which the Gwich’in people have traditionally managed animal and land resources. We now have modern ways of hunting (e.g., skidoos) and managing the land (e.g. land claims), but long ago the Gwich’in people managed the animals and lands differently. The GRRB would support any project helping to communicate these traditional ways of managing resources. All Traditional Management work goes through the GTC Department of Cultural Heritage and follows their policy.

Community-based (Citizen science):

The GRRB understands community-based projects to be research projects addressing community questions and involving the direct participation of the community. In these projects, researchers might be involved initially, but the ultimate goal is to train the community to collect and/or monitor the data.

Why is this list valuable for a researcher?
The GRRB priority list is specific to the GRRB. It includes the focus topics and approaches the GRRB wants to tackle in the next five-year period, either through direct or indirect research projects. This list is valuable because we can offer support to researchers undertaking projects addressing any of our current priorities. See the Types of Support section for more information on the help we can provide.

Before Conducting Research in the Gwich'in Settlement Area

All research in the Northwest Territories is licensed. Before you can do research in the Northwest Territories, you must apply to the Aurora Research Institute (ARI) for a research license. If the project you propose to the ARI is intended to take place in the Gwich’in Settlement Area, the ARI will forward your application to the Gwich’in Renewable Resources Board and the Renewable Resources Councils of the relevant communities for review and comments. We recommend applying for a research license at least three months prior to when you plan to start the research.

Advice from our Executive Director

When conducting a research project that affects one or more communities, involving these communities in a meaningful way can add a lot of value to your project. I recommend involving the communities by maintaining an ongoing conversation with them throughout all stages of the project, as follows:

Community Involvement Cycle

Question: For best success, I advise starting your project by meeting with members of the community to discuss how your research interests will harmonize with community interests. This will give you the opportunity to hear the communities’ perspective on your research interests and to develop your research question with their help.

Design: Many community members make their living from the land and, therefore, understand its landscapes very well. This knowledge makes the Renewable Resources Councils (RRCs) powerful consultants when you are developing your research methods. Notably, they can help with choosing the best sites for your research: they may advise you to avoid certain sites due to cultural sensitivity, or they may direct you towards places they wish to understand better. They can also tell you the best ways to access these sites, the equipment required, as well as community members who may be available as field assistants and environmental or wildlife monitors. RRCs involvement in the development of your methods can thus save you time and money.

Licensing: Licenses to conduct research in the Gwich’in Settlement Area are provided by the Aurora Research Institute (ARI). The ARI recommends applying at least three months prior to the starting date of your research project. When evaluating a project, the ARI sends the application to the concerned communities for review, which is often the first point of contact between researchers and communities. However, contacting the communities before the licensing stage could make the evaluation of your application quicker: when reviewing your application, the communities concerned would already know who you are and your research project and all they would look at in your application is whether you address what has been discussed with them in previous meetings.

Methods: You can hire people from the communities to work on your project and thus benefit from their knowledge of the land. If you spend time in a community, to promote a successful relationship I would advise to stop by their Renewable Resources Council office, visit schools if you can and to participate in community events.

Analysis: The analysis stage can also be part of the ongoing conversation through term reports, for example.

Results: As much as possible, the communities want the researchers to come in person to present their results. For those presentations, I recommend building your presentation around the question that was asked by the community. It is best to only present the most relevant maps and graphs because what they really want is their answer. When covering the analysis, make sure to use plain language and to spend enough time on each part to ensure the audience understands.

Note that even though the conversation is not happening, it doesn’t mean that the research is not sound research.

In this video, I speak at the University of Alberta regarding the activities of the Gwich’in Renewable Resources Board (GRRB). Watch this video to learn more about the GRRB, our goal and mandate, our research priorities and how these are developed over time, examples of community projects and partnerships, as well as advice for researchers intending to conduct research in the Gwich’in Settlement Area (GSA).

The following timestamp links will open the video in YouTube:

2:30 – Who is the Executive Director
3:46 – Table of Contents
4:49 – Who are the Gwich’in People
7:21 – Land Claim Agreement
8:11 – Who are the GRRB and the RRCs and what are their mandates
11:10 – GRRB structure and staff
13:10 – GRRB powers
13:36 – Research priority process, mandate and research activities
24:47 – Best practices for conducting research in the GSA
32:17 – Example of community involvement: Rat River Monitoring Program
35:43 - Example of community involvement: Muskrat Project
39:06 – Summary and advice for working with our communities
43:55 – Key messages

Types of Support

The Gwich’in Renewable Resources Board (GRRB) can support researchers conducting projects relating to its mandate in diverse ways. The GRRB can help by writing letters of support, assisting with youth involvement, providing financial or in-kind support (staff time and equipment sharing) and by developing partnerships. Note that the support provided will be greater the more closely related your research project is to our mandate and research priorities. When a research project is not so related to our mandate but addresses community interests, the GRRB might still help by putting you in contact with other people or organizations sharing your research interests.

Researchers wishing to conduct research in the  Gwich’in Settlement Area (GSA) and to receive support from the GRRB (whether financial, in-kind, or by letters of support) are requested to indicate how their research helps the GRRB meet one or more of its priority topics and approaches upon application.

  • Letter of support

We are willing to provide a letter of support for any researcher intending to conduct a research project that aligns with our mandate. However, it should be noted that the strength of the letter will depend on whether your research project meets our mandate and research priorities and if you have been involved with us in the past. Our letters therefore have different levels of strength. You can essentially write your own letter of support.

Download and complete the Request for Letter of Support PDF

Please note: depending on your browser and other factors, the form may not auto-submit. If you are having difficulties, please save the completed form and email it as an attachment to the Renewable Resources Manager.

Please clearly express how your project meets the criteria listed in the bullet corresponding to your situation:

The waiting time to expect before receiving your letter of support usually varies between two weeks to one month, depending on the strength of the letter and staff workload. During key times of the year, the GRRB may receive several requests for letters of support. Therefore, we suggest that you send us your request well in advance of your critical deadlines for project submission.

  • Funding support
    • Research funding

    The Gwich’in Renewable Resources Board (GRRB) administers the Wildlife Studies Fund, which provides financial support for research projects on a project-by-project basis. Read more about the Wildlife Studies Fund and apply.

    • Youth involvement

    Under the Wildlife Studies Fund, you can also apply for the Youth Work Experience Program for funding that offsets the cost of youth wages. Employing youth is a great opportunity to provide training and experience, but it also requires the supervisor to provide appropriate safety measures. Upon application, you will be asked to submit a Safety Plan that meets or surpasses the one outlined in the GRRB Safety Policy. The GRRB is required by law to do its due diligence to ensure your project meets our standards.

    The application deadlines for the Youth Work Experience Program and Wildlife Studies Fund depend on the date of the winter GRRB meeting, which varies annually. Contact the GRRB in early December to inquire the application deadlines. Funding decisions for the Youth Work Experience Program and Wildlife Studies Fund are made annually, usually in February.

  • In-kind support

    In-kind support can be provided when a researcher wants a member of our staff to help them in the field. This is only applicable to projects that meet our mandate AND at least one of our priorities.

    To request in-kind support:

    • If you are willing to cover the costs of staff support (wages), contact us at the beginning of our fiscal year (April), or at least one to two months prior to the work, depending on the size of the request. This period will allow us to discuss with our staff and assess if the help requested can be incorporated into their work plans. If the staff is supportive, then the request will be reviewed and approved formally by our Executive Director.
    • If you are unable to cover the costs of staff support (wages), we ask that you cover any overtime costs. Your request will be reviewed by the GRRB Board of Directors at their February Board meeting. Please plan your request accordingly.

  • Partnership

While the Gwich’in Renewable Resources Board (GRRB) supports all research that addresses its mandate, we can only actively partner on a few projects each year. Typically, this is when the project directly addresses a GRRB Priority that will assist the Board in making management decisions. Developing a partnership like this would be the result of in-depth discussions and high comfort level with the people and organizations involved. To form a partnership, we encourage you to familiarize yourself with our [mandate] and to introduce yourselves to the GRRB staff at face-to-face meetings and conferences.

Types of supports offered in a partnership:

  • Help with funding applications
  • In-kind support
  • Strong letters of support
  • Best practices advice

Requirements to form a partnership:

  • Meet the GRRB mandate
  • Meet at least one of the GRRB priorities
  • Already established a meaningful relationship with the relevant communities
  • Already established a meaningful relationship with the GRRB (relevant staff and Executive Director) for at least one year

FAQ

The Gwich’in Renewable Resources Board (GRRB) is actively engaged on many research projects. We can offer in-kind support, funding and partnership opportunities to researchers who are working on questions of direct management relevance to the Board.

What would you like to know?

The GRRB has two research interests lists:

  • The GRRB Research & Management Priorities list that was determined through a community-based priority-setting protocol and that has been approved by the GRRB for the period of 2018-2023.
  • The Research and Management Interests for the GSA (PDF) list that is a continuously-updated list of the questions and concerns brought to us by community members in the GSA. Not all of these items are directly within the GRRB mandate, but we want to share these as widely as possible so that they can be addressed.

We are willing to provide a letter of support for any researcher intending to conduct a research projects that aligns with our mandate. It should be noted, however, that the strength of the letter will depend on whether your research projects meets our mandate and our research priorities and if you have been involved with us in the past. To apply, see our Letter of Support section and fill out the appropriate submission form. Your request will be sent directly to our Renewable Resources Manager.

The waiting time to expect before receiving your letter of support usually varies between two weeks to one month, depending on the strength of the letter and staff workload. During key times of the year, the GRRB may receive several requests for letters of support. Therefore, we suggest you send us your request well in advance of your critical deadlines for project submission.

The strength of our letters of support depend on whether your research project meets our mandate and research priorities and if you have been involved with us in the past. Our letters therefore have different levels of strength, following this scale:

While the GRRB supports all research that addresses its mandate, we can only actively partner on a few projects each year. Typically, this is when the project directly addresses a GRRB Priority that will assist the Board in making management decisions. Developing a partnership like this would be the result of in-depth discussions and high comfort level with the people and organizations involved. To form a partnership, we encourage you to familiarize yourself with our mandate and to introduce yourselves to the GRRB staff at face-to-face meetings and conferences.

There are four communities in the GSA: Aklavik, Inuvik, Tsiigehtchic and Fort McPherson. Each community has a RRC that makes decisions about fisheries, wildlife and forestry management at the local area. The Gwich’in Renewable Resources Board (GRRB) staff works closely with the RRCs to fulfill our mandate, but please remember that the RRCs are independent entities.

Each council typically meets once a month. Meeting schedules can change at short notice. Contact the RRC coordinators directly to inquire about their meeting dates and whether they have space for you on their agenda.

All four RRCs meet with each other once a year, in early January. This regional RRC meeting can be a good opportunity for you to speak with the council members from all four communities. The regional RRC meeting is hosted on a rotating basis. Contact the GRRB office to ask which community is hosting next and the date of meeting.

You can apply to the Youth Work Experience Program for funding that offsets the cost of youth wages. Employing youth is a great opportunity to provide training and experience, but it also requires the supervisor to provide appropriate safety measures. Upon application, you will be asked to submit a Safety Plan that meets or surpasses the one outlined in the GRRB Safety Policy. The GRRB is required by law to do its due diligence to ensure your project meets our standards.

Contact the Renewable Resource Council (RRC) coordinator of the community you will be working near to discuss the statement of work and to set up a financial agreement. The RRC can recommend a person who has the skills you are looking for and can directly process payroll for that person. We recommend considering workers compensation coverage for any workers hired through the RRCs to work on your project.

Keep in mind that everybody is very busy during summer and fall field season – it is prime time for being out on the land! You should set up your statement of work and financial agreement several months in advance to ensure success.

2019 ERRC monitor rates

The GRRB administers the Wildlife Studies Fund, which provides yearly financial support for research projects on a project-by-project basis. Read more about the Wildlife Studies Fund and apply.

Under the Wildlife Studies Fund, you can also apply for the Youth Work Experience Program for funding that offsets the cost of youth wages. Employing youth is a great opportunity to provide training and experience, but it also requires the supervisor to provide appropriate safety measures. Upon application, you will be asked to submit a Safety Plan that meets or surpasses the plan outlined in the GRRB Safety Policy. The GRRB is required by law to do its due diligence to ensure your project meets our standards.

In-kind support can be provided when a researcher wants a member of our staff to help them in the field. This is only applicable to projects that meet our mandate AND at least one of our priorities.

If you are willing to cover the costs of staff support (wages), contact us at the beginning of our fiscal year (April), or at least one to two months prior to the work, depending on the size of the request. This period will allow us to discuss with our staff and assess if the help requested can be incorporated into their work plans. If the staff is supportive, then the request will be reviewed and approved formally by our Executive Director.

If you are unable to cover the cost of staff support (wages), we ask that you cover any overtime costs. Your request will be reviewed by the GRRB Board of Directors at their February Board meeting. Please plan your request accordingly.

Our media policy: no staff of the GRRB shall make any public comments to the news media regarding issues or positions involving the GRRB unless authorized by the Executive Director, Chairperson or GRRB. The GRRB will request a copy of the interview, where applicable.

All media inquiries should be directed to the Executive Director, Amy Amos

Research licenses in Northwest Territories are administered by the Aurora Research Institute through the POLAR portal. When submitted, your license application is automatically distributed to the GRRB through the POLAR network. There is no need to contact the GRRB staff through additional channels. We will provide feedback on your application through the POLAR portal in the timelines stated at three to four months prior to the planned research activity.

Contact Us

Before contacting us, please try to find the answers to your questions on our website.

Janet Boxwell
Renewable Resources Manager
(867) 777-6600 ext. 5

 
 

 

 

 

Gwich'in Renewable Resources Board