As part of a Serie Highlighting the work of young people to address the climate crisis, writer Patricia Lane interviews student Rachael Cadman, who is helping chart a vision for the future of fishing in Nunatsiavut.
Rachael Cadman’s PhD studies involve supporting the Secretariat of Wildlife, Plants and Fisheries of Torngat and other partners to chart and help implement an Inuit community vision for the future of fishing in Nunatsiavut, an autonomous Inuit region in northern Labrador.
Tell us about your project.
Colonial Fisheries management in Canada systematically fails with indigenous peoples because government policy is decided by outsiders. In an effort to change that, I interview fishers, community members, and decision makers in stakeholder organizations that shed light on the historical, cultural, and current uses of various fishery resources. This helps guide the creation of comprehensive fisheries governance and decision-making that reflects the priorities of local Inuit communities and is resilient to environmental change.
What are some of the ways your research could be used?
Expanding local voices and knowledge holders, and especially indigenous ones, is already leading to more responsive governance. Snow crab fishermen recently collectively and voluntarily reduced their catches in light of several fishermen reporting declining populations. By comparison, decision makers endangered the entire cod fishery by ignoring local intelligence and waiting for what they recognized as “scientific proof”; data collection and analysis by Western scientists in research teams producing scholarly and peer-reviewed articles. But this is a challenging environment for such research. The distances are enormous and it is often very cold. That kind of peer review takes time. It is an important part of creating a fairer future for the indigenous peoples of the region that we respect their desire to prioritize their own deep knowledge and understanding of ecosystems when making decisions about resource use.
Indigenous peoples also sometimes have different priorities when it comes to fisheries management. They seek to inform decision-making with their own values, as well as with Western concepts of knowledge. In Nunatsiavut, arctic trout is an essential and traditional part of the culture, diet and life of many Inuit. Just the experience of being in the water fishing for Arctic trout is culturally significant. But it is not a profitable fishery. If decision makers were only concerned with maximizing profits, it would not be considered feasible. This has always been the case, but it is even more important now with caribou populations in radical decline. There are other profitable fisheries in the region, such as northern shrimp, snow crab, and turbot, and these fisheries are managed in a way that their profits help subsidize the Arctic saithe fishery because Inuit managers prioritize that. cultural importance.
How did you get to this job?
Rachael Cadman’s PhD studies involve supporting the Torngat Wildlife, Plant and Fisheries Secretariat and other partners to help implement an #Inuit community vision of #fishing in the Inuit Autonomous Region in northern Labrador.
I didn’t do science as a student, so I think maybe I was more open to other non-Western ways of knowing. My dad is an ornithologist and he spent the weekends outdoors in nature looking for and observing birds and other wildlife. It was important to me that my work contributed to improving the natural world. My parents gave me a strong sense of right, wrong and justice, and it seemed to me that it was unfair and wrong to pretend to manage a fishery without giving total priority to the people who live in the area where it is fished.
What makes your job difficult?
I am working in a complex and politically charged space. I must report what I find and avoid speaking for someone else. I am learning that transparency is essential. I am also learning that it is not useful to cover up mistakes and that I must be constantly open to learning. That level of vulnerability provides a rich experience, but it can also be painful.
What do you care about?
Little! My work is inspiring and empowering, and my world is full of new friends and mentors.
Do you have any advice for other young people?
If you are inclined to research, do so in partnership with others. When your work is co-designed and executed with others, especially those directly affected, it is far richer than anything you could accomplish on your own. It is also personally rewarding as you really grow and learn in a relationship with other people who are interested in some of the same things as you, but also very different in focus.
What would you like to say to older people?
Many of my older colleagues have been very patient with me as I slowly and sometimes painfully assimilated what they were teaching. I’m thankful. For others, I would say that the most rewarding relationships are reciprocal ones. When supporting a young person, allow him to teach you too.