Graduate Students

Abigael Rice - MA Candidate

Abigael Rice – MA Candidate

University of Saskatchewan

David Natcher – Supervisor


Peaceful Enjoyment of Treaty 8 Lands


The project is a collaboration of West Moberly First Nation and the University of Saskatchewan. The project will produce practical outcomes for the local First Nation including baseline indicators of land and resource use with associated spatial data.  The thesis will also advance theory on the role of community participation and Indigenous knowledge in strategic land use planning processes including those underway in NE British Columbia.

Akarath Soukhaphon - PhD Student in Geography

Akarath Soukhaphon – PhD Student in Geography

University of Wisconsin, Madison

Collaboration with: Ubon Ratchathani University

Ian Baird – Supervisor’


Knowing the River: Utilizing Traditional Knowledge to Shape New Discourses in the Age of Dams


The Mekong River and its tributaries has long been a source of vitality for those living along banks.  It has also served as a conduit for material and intellectual exchange throughout history.  Today, the river draws interest from both ecologists and developers due to its biodiversity and energy potential.  As the Mekong Subregion undergoes greater transformation, there is a need to understand how such transformations impact local stakeholders.  My research explores the pedagogical history of Lao communities in northeastern Thailand, southern Laos, and northeastern Cambodia in light of environmental change and major development projects.  I am interested in how technology, international borders, and ideas of indigeneity, identity, and landscape have complicated or facilitated discourses of acceptance, acquiescence, and resistance in and among these communities.

Amabel D’Souza - MSc Student in Risk and Community Resilience

Amabel D’Souza, MSc Student in Risk and Community Resilience

University of Alberta

Collaboration with: Treaty 8 Tribal Association / Ubon Ratchathani University

Brenda Parlee – Supervisor


The Impact of Hydroelectric Development on Rural Communities near The Peace River and the Mun River


Local people living along The Mun River and its tributaries, such as the Sebok River, hold a deep connection to the fresh water ecosystem and have longstanding traditional practices that are critical to their fishing livelihoods. These traditions and practices have been passed down over many generations and are based on well-developed local knowledge of their environment and communities. However due to the rapid development of hydropower in the Mekong Basin, fishing livelihoods are becoming increasingly complicated by environmental impacts to aquatic ecosystems. Many households and communities are thus diversifying their livelihoods to survive. This thesis explores how local villagers in fishing communities on the Mun River and its tributary, the Sebok River, in Thailand, diversify their livelihoods and show resilience to the effects of hydroelectric development. Semi-structured interviews were conducted in nine villages to collect themes and opinions on the operation of the Pak Mun Dam, a controversial dam located near the confluence of the Mekong and Mun Rivers, and its effects on communities over the past twenty-five years. Emerging themes from the interviews showcase the importance of fish and fishing livelihood, culture, diversifications, community and connection to land. These themes relate to existing theory and demonstrate the importance of Traditional Knowledge, resilience and well-being. The information presented in this thesis also showcases how Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) can be utilized towards community-based resource management and community involvement in decision-making regarding hydroelectric development.

Carolina Tavares de Freitas – MSc Student in Biological Sciences

Carolina Tavares de Freitas – MSc Student in Biological Sciences

Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte

Priscila Fabiana Macedo Lopes – Supervisor


Arapaima fisheries co-management: an alternative to conciliate biodiversity conservation with human well-being in the Amazon region?


Arapaima (Arapaima spp.) is the largest freshwater scale fish in the world and an iconic element of the Amazon region. This fish has high ecological, economic and cultural value to Amazonian ecosystems and people. Since the 2000s, arapaima fishery has been banned in Brazil except under a collaborative management plan approved by the government. Arapaima co-management initiatives are proliferating throughout the Amazon and seem to be an important tool for biodiversity conservation, poverty alleviation, and gender equality in fisheries. On the other hand illegal arapaima fisheries are still quite common, and we know very little about arapaima stocks and conservation status. In my PhD I intend to evaluate the historical trends of arapaima stocks in the Brazilian Amazon, and to assess the ecological and socioeconomic impacts of arapaima co-management. Data collection will be based on interviews with local people from three important tributaries of the Amazon river (Juruá river, Purus river and Negro river), and on records from the Brazilian Environmental Agency (~15 years data).

Carrie Oloriz - MSc Student in Environmental Management

Carrie Oloriz  – MSc Student in Environmental Management 

Royal Roads University

Stol’o First Nations / Ubon Ratchathani University

Brenda Parlee – Supervisor


Local Fishers Knowledge in Governance in the Lower Mekong and Fraser Basins


The goal of this proposed project to learn more about the role of Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) and management practices in decision-making about the sustainability of fish and fishing livelihoods in the Lower Mekong and Fraser Basins. The two specific objectives are to determine: a) what and how TEK is being systematically generated about culturally valued fish species that are currently ‘endangered’ (e.g., Giant Catfish Panasianodon gigas ‘pla buek’), and b) how this knowledge is influencing governance of fish and fishing livelihoods at different scales. Oloriz hopes to learn from local fishers, leaders and government representatives about different aspects of Traditional Knowledge and its potential role in governance. Most importantly, she would like to contribute to the sustainability of local ecosystems, fishing practices and livelihoods.

Chelsea Martin - MSc Student in Risk and Community Resilience

Chelsea Martin, MSc Student in Risk and Community Resilience

University of Alberta

Collaboration with: Sahtu Renewable Resources Board

Brenda Parlee – Supervisor


Sahtu Goti’ine Traditional Knowledge: The Impact of Climate Change on Fishing Livelihoods


This presentation discusses a project developed with the Sahtu Got’ine of Deline. The Sahtu Got’ine of Deline have, over many generations, developed valuable knowledge, practices and institutions that are deeply integrated with their spiritual worldview; Great Bear Lake for example, is conceptualized as the source or ‘heart’ of the community and their livelihood. Traditional knowledge about local ecosystems including ecosystem dynamics is important to the continued sustainability of fishing livelihoods in this region and in many other northern communities. As the stresses of climate change and resource development grow, this knowledge will become even more important to the community and others concerned with the sustainability of the arctic environment.

Iria Heredia - MA Student in Geography

Iria Heredia, MA Student in Geography 

University of Ottawa

Collaboration with: Inuvialuit Fisheries Joint Management Committee

Sonia Wesche – Supervisor


Local and Traditional Knowledge Indicators for Tracking Socio-Ecological Changes in Inuvialuit Fishing Livelihoods


Given the vulnerability of northern ecosystems and communities, socio-ecological changes in the Mackenzie Delta region of the Western Arctic have a significant impact on Inuvialuit fishing livelihoods. Local and traditional knowledge from the Inuvialuit Settlement Region offers an opportunity to learn about change in this part of the Basin which is the furthest down-stream jurisdiction. Drawing on an analysis of peer-reviewed and grey literature, and qualitative interviews conducted with 10 fishers from the communities of Aklavik and Inuvik, we examine how Inuvialuit fishers track and understand change in the Delta. Themes covered relate to a) determining importance of Mackenzie Delta fisheries for Inuvialuit subsistence and livelihoods, b) documenting Inuvialuit knowledge about change regarding fish habitat and fishing conditions, and c) identifying how fishers track and monitor changes in the Delta. We identify a range of temporally-and seasonally-sensitive indicators used by local fishers. Changes are observed in water temperature, water levels, slumps, fish quality and delta-reliant wildlife populations.

Kristine Wray – PhD Candidate in Environmental Sociology

Kristine Wray – PhD Candidate in Environmental Sociology

University of Alberta

Collaboration with: Akaitcho Territorial Government / Deh Cho First Nations

Brenda Parlee – Supervisor


Linking Fishers Knowledge and Science to Understand Ecological Change in the Mackenzie River Basin


Freshwater fisheries are an important resource in Canada, particularly to Indigenous communities whose livelihoods have been interconnected to sustainable fishing practices for generations; commercial fishing operations present new challenges to sustainability of these Indigenous fishing livelihoods that have been little explored in northern Canada. Governance arrangements for managing an emerging commercial fishery on Great Slave Lake historically marginalized Indigenous voices; current regimes developed circa 1945 do not consider the rights of Akitcho Dene First Nations nor their Traditional Knowledge related to the fishery.  Working collaboratively with the Akaitcho Territory Government, the research involves the documentation of oral histories about the impacts of the commercial fishery on subsistence, and investigate the contemporary knowledge, practices and institutions of Akaitcho fishers.

Lana Lowe - PhD Student - Faculty of Law

Lana Lowe – PhD Student – Faculty of Law

University of Victoria

Val Napoleon – Supervisor


Indigenous Oral Histories of Water 


The project focuses on the importance of Indigenous oral histories about water and water use as law (indigenous legal orders) in the Peace River Sub-Basin.  Working collaboratively with Fort Nelson First Nation, the research will aim to increase understanding of how changes in the health of the water and access to water have altered the well-being of the community and what kinds of indigenous legal orders are needed to improved governance of the basin and heal the relationship between people and their environment.

Laura Gaitan – MA Candidate – Geography

Laura Gaitan – MA Candidate – Geography

Memorial University

Arn Keeling – Supervisor


Fond du Lac First Nation: Traditional Knowledge in the Athabasca Land Use Plan


The project focuses on the role of Traditional Knowledge related to water resources in land use planning processes.  The work is being led by Fond du Lac First Nation and the local lands department.  Drawing on oral histories and spatial data of Fond du Lac First Nation elders and land users, the project will contribute new insights about changes observed and experienced in the Athabasca (east), and key values and indicators for future monitoring and governance of this important watershed.

Neal Spicer – MSc Student in Community Risk and Resilience

Neal Spicer – MSc Student in Community Risk and Resilience

University of Alberta

Brenda Parlee – Supervisor


Collaboration with Dene Tha’ First Nations and K’atl’odeeche First Nations


Despite fiduciary and legal requirements of the Canadian government in ensuring First Nation communities’ well-being, safe natural water sources and household water sources are frequently a massive problem for many First Nation communities across Canada. My research, in collaboration with the communities of the DTFN and KFN, examines drinking water consumption patterns and water security levels. Although there are many potential outcomes of this research, the objectives are to:  A) Ascertain what water sources community members drink, both within the home and while on the land hunting and fishing, and what factors are impacting water sources within their area; and B) develop a tool to help quantify and ascertain levels of water security for First Nation communities within Canada. This research could help lay the foundation for First Nation communities to a have a better understanding on the various factors involved in their community’s water security level and community members’ concerns over their water.

Phongthep Bukla - MA Candidate in Sociology

Phongthep Bukla –  MA Candidate in Sociology

Ubon Ratchathani University

Kanokwan Manorom – Supervisor


Fishery Resources and Knowledge Management Through Empowerment of Local Wisdom in the Mun and Mekong Rivers


From the Mekong source to its delta, the river travels 4,909km. Along the Mekong, local communities utilize the river in different ways; it is a source of life, providing food, transportation, and security of life. There are over 60 million people who directly depend on its rich natural resources. The lower basin is the most productive fresh-water fishery in the world. Along the Thai-Lao-Cambodia border, complex ecosystems, including those centered on rapids, whirlpools, beaches, and tributaries, are the important fishing grounds for local communities. This research focuses on fishery resources and knowledge management, and how to empower local wisdom. Research sites cover the Pak Mun Dam in Thailand, Donsahong Dam in Southern Laos, and Tonlesap areas in Cambodia.

Sirasak Gaja-svasti (Toe). - MA Candidate in Sociology

Sirasak Gaja-svasti (Toe). –  MA Candidate in Sociology

Ubon Ratchathani University

Dr.. Kanokwan Manorom – Supervisor


Fish Consumption in the Context of Community Change in the Tributaries of the Mun River

Sydney Stenekes - MSc Candidate in Risk and Community Resilience

Sydney Stenekes – MSc Candidate in Risk and Community Resilience

University of Alberta

Brenda Parlee – Supervisor


The Role of Traditional Knowledge in Understanding and Addressing Cumulative Impacts on Freshwater Systems in the Dehcho Region


There is growing concern amongst the Kátł‘odeeche First Nation regarding downstream impacts of oil and gas activity on the aquatic health of the Hay River Basin.  With an interest in contributing to the bilateral agreements between the Government of Alberta and the Government of the Northwest Territories, my research will lead to a better understanding of both the indicators of aquatic ecosystem change of importance to the First Nation, as well as the use and meaning of such indicators in local, regional and territorial processes of social learning.  It is anticipated that the outcomes of the research will be of practical use to the First Nation as well as inform the implementation of the bilateral agreement for the Hay River watershed between the Northwest Territories and Alberta governments. I look forward to working in collaboration with KFN, as they develop and implement a Traditional Knowledge based community environmental monitoring program.

Tracey Proverbs - MA Candidate in Environmental Studies

Tracey ProverbsMA Candidate in Environmental Studies 

University of Victoria

Collaboration with: Gwich’in Renewable Resources Board, Gwich’in Tribal Council (GTC) and GTC Department of Cultural Heritage

Trevor Lantz – Supervisor


Socioecological Change Affecting the Cultural Landscape and Fishing Livelihoods in the Gwich’in Settlement Region


Northern communities and landscapes are experiencing rapid socioecological change. In the Gwich’in Settlement Region (GSR), environmental disturbances associated with climate change and industrial development are increasing cumulative impacts on the landscape. These impacts can significantly alter landscapes through changes to soil properties, hydrology, wildlife habitat, and biodiversity, and also affect Indigenous peoples who are intertwined with and utilize their landscapes for subsistence and cultural traditions. Collectively, these changes have the potential to affect Gwich’in livelihoods, as well as the cultural and ecological landscape of the region.

In response to these changes, and in partnership with the Gwich’in Renewable Resources Board, the Gwich’in Tribal Council (GTC), and the GTC Department of Cultural Heritage, my Master’s research explores the following two research questions:

1) What are current impacts of environmental disturbances on the Gwich’in cultural landscape? and

2) How does access to fish affect Gwich’in well-being?

To answer the first question, I am utilizing spatial overlay analysis to examine the overlap between areas of cultural significance and environmental disturbance in the GSR. This has been followed by consultation interviews with four cultural resource experts in the region, in preparation for a Secondary Analysis. For the second question, I have conducted 26 semi-structured community and land-based interviews about Gwich’in community members’ personal fishing history, observations about access to fish and fishing, and observations of socioecological changes to fish and fishing livelihoods. These interviews are now being analyzed for interactions between environmental change, access to fish, and well-being. The findings from this research will increase our understandings of regional socioecological change, and inform cultural and natural resource manage

Wanapa Wongpinit - MA Candidate in Sociology

Wanapa Wongpinit –  MA Candidate in Sociology

Ubon Ratchathani University

Dr. Kanokwan Manorom – Supervisor


Gender and Indigenous Knowledge on Fisheries in the Mun River and Si Phan Don in Southern Laos


The study focuses on gender and fishery knowledge along the Mun River, wetland areas, and Si Phan Don (Four Thousand Islands) in southern Laos. Many scholars have addressed that fishing activities in the areas are very crucial for local livelihoods. Males and females have different knowledge on fishing, depending on their roles ecological systems, development activities and policies of water resource management.