Research as Reciprocity: Northern Cree Community-Based and Community-Engaged Research on Wild Food Contamination in Alberta’s Oil Sands Region

  • Janelle Baker
Keywords: community-based monitoring, oil sands, Treaty No. 8, pollution, traditional land use



 In this paper I suggest that it is possible to participate in research as an act of reciprocity; when a community asks a researcher for help on a specific topic, the application of that researcher’s skills can be one of the ways they show appreciation for being welcomed into a place. I also argue that a researcher needs to be sensitive to, and participate in, systems of respect and reciprocity belonging to the people, ancestors, and sentient landscape of the place they are doing research. I critique the extraction of traditional knowledge in the traditional land use consultation industry in Alberta, Canada that is used in place of the Federal Government’s duty to consult First Nations regarding their Treaty rights. As an alternative to traditional land use assessments I provide a description of the methods used in projects that test Fort McKay First Nation and Bigstone Cree First Nation’s wild foods for contaminants resulting from oil sands activities in northern Alberta’s Treaty No. 8 region.