Integrated Management Planning in Canada's Northern Marine Environment: Engaging Coastal Communities
In accordance with international law and custom, Canada declared an exclusive economic zone of 2.9 million km² when it passed the Oceans Act in 1997. Extensive resource management responsibilities were associated with this declaration. An early effort to engage a northern coastal community in the first stages of an integrated management planning process focused on the small northern community of Churchill, Manitoba, and a 150 km stretch of the Hudson Bay coastline. The steps taken included communicating the importance of management planning for the town's coastal region; conducting personal interviews on coastal activities and concerns with a representative sample of the community; consolidating, tabulating, and mapping the results of these interviews; verifying results with the community; and evaluating the effectiveness of the process used. The approach taken, as well as the weeks spent living in the community, were important factors in developing a relationship of trust between the researcher and the community. Those interviewed were more comfortable participating once they had had a number of opportunities to become familiar with the context of the study, its relevance to them, and the researcher.