Collection of knowledge

Before conducting the project, we held two consultation meetings in February-March 2005 to present the project to the community of Pond Inlet and invite community members (elders and representatives from various committees) to express ideas, concerns and advices.

Semi-directed interviews

Catherine A. Gagnon

Upon approval by the community, we started the first phase of Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) collection over the summer of 2005. During this phase, Inuit knowledge was documented by means of semi-directed interviews with 21 elders and hunters from Pond Inlet. Semi-directed interviews, a methodology commonly used for the collection of TEK, are open and flexible and aim at avoiding the rigidity of questionnaires. General themes are established in advance but questions remain open ended, which leaves room for interviewees to elaborate on matters that are important to them, and that may not have been anticipated by the interviewer. In that process, the interviewee does not always address every topic that was intended to be covered.

Each interview started with questions concerning the personal life of the interviewee (also called informant), such as the places where she/he was born and where she/he mostly hunted. These were followed by questions concerning foxes and geese. Topographic maps (1:250,000) were used during each interview to stimulate conversation and record geographical information. From July to August 2005, close to 40 hours of interviews were recorded and further analyzed during the fall and winter of 2005-2006.

Focus groups

The second phase of the project, in the summer of 2006, aimed to assess and verify the interpretations of TEK collected the previous year. With help from a local assistant, the investigator went through all sections of interviews that seemed unclear. Together, they made sure they understood what the interviewee had mentioned, either through listening to the interview once again, or by phoning the interviewee.

Four focus groups were also held in June 2006. During each focus group, 4 to 5 elders or hunters discussed one of the following topics:

  • Fox ecology
  • Goose ecology
  • Changes observed in the local environment
  • Inuit concept of ecological integrity and how to include TEK in management

The focus groups had two objectives: 1) present the main points emerging from the interviews held in 2005 and ensure that the investigators interpreted them correctly, and 2) investigate certain topics more deeply. All workshops were audio-recorded.

What is Inuit knowledge? Elder-youth camp