Vulnerability to changes in winter trails and travelling: a case study from Nunatsiavut

Riedlsperger, Rudolf (2014) Vulnerability to changes in winter trails and travelling: a case study from Nunatsiavut. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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    Available under License - The author retains copyright ownership and moral rights in this thesis. Neither the thesis nor substantial extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's permission.
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Abstract

This thesis explores the vulnerability of Nunatsiavut residents to changes in winter trails and travelling on land based and sea ice trails, brought about by weather and climate stresses in combination with livelihood changes. Data were collected using map biography interviews with 28 community members of Makkovik and Postville between January and March 2012. Participant observation and regional climate data were utilized to gain contextual understanding of the data collected during map biography interviews. Accessible winter trails are critical to the livelihoods of the communities. They provide access to the land and ice and facilitate subsistence activities such as hunting and collecting firewood. Winter trails also permit overland travel between communities that are not connected by conventional roads. Residents are currently affected by changes related to winter trails and travelling considered outside the range of previously experienced variability. Physical changes in winter trails are brought about mainly by a deterioration of snow and ice conditions, as well as changes in wildlife availability. Sea ice routes are more affected than land based routes. Interview participants reported changes in the act and experience of travelling due to a compromised sense of safety while being on winter trails, and due to changes in trail use activities away from subsistence participation towards recreational and sports activities in combination with technological changes. These changes have immediate, tangible effects on community and individual livelihoods, including negative economic implications for households and threats to livelihood security, health and safety for individuals. There are also intangible dimensions of change as unimpeded access to the land and ice is further linked to a sense of place, identity, purpose, and stewardship for community members. Currently, ad-hoc coping mechanisms outweigh planned adaptation strategies. Communities and individuals respond to changes in winter trails and travelling through adaptation of trail routes and improved trail maintenance and equipment, adaptation of subsistence activities, proactive mobilization of traditional knowledge and skills, as well as collaboration and sharing among individuals and communities. Barriers to adaptation include livelihood changes undermining subsistence participation, constraints in financial and human resources, and bureaucratic stipulations such as mandatory hunting and trapping permits, restrictions in hunting and trapping areas, and liability questions. Potential resource development projects and initiatives to boost adventure tourism in the winter pose both future vulnerabilities in terms of additional disruption of travel routes and subsistence activities, as well as chances to enhance adaptive capacity through economic growth and the capitalization on traditional knowledge and skills. Accessible winter trails will remain critical for the continuity of traditional knowledge and skills, livelihood security, health, and subjective wellbeing of individuals and communities.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/6349
Item ID: 6349
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 139-154).
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Geography
Date: May 2014
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Newfoundland and Labrador--Labrador
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Inuit--Newfoundland and Labrador--Labrador--Economic conditions; Inuit--Travel--Newfoundland and Labrador--Labrador; Inuit--Hunting--Newfoundland and Labrador--Labrador; Labrador (N.L.)--Description and travel

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