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Open AccessArticle

“We’re Made Criminals Just to Eat off the Land”: Colonial Wildlife Management and Repercussions on Inuit Well-Being

1
Torngat Wildlife Plants and Fisheries Secretariat, Happy Valley-Goose Bay, NL A0P 1E0, Canada
2
Department of Population Medicine, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada
3
Labrador Institute, Memorial University, Happy Valley-Goose Bay, NL A0P 1E0, Canada
4
Indigenous Environmental Studies & Sciences Program, Trent University, Peterborough, ON K9L 0G2, Canada
5
Priestley International Centre for Climate, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK
6
School of Public Health, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6G 1C9, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2020, 12(19), 8177; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12198177
Received: 28 August 2020 / Revised: 6 September 2020 / Accepted: 26 September 2020 / Published: 3 October 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wildlife Conservation: A Sustainability Perspective)
Across Inuit Nunangat, Inuit rely on wildlife for food security, cultural continuity, intergenerational learning, and livelihoods. Caribou has been an essential species for Inuit for millennia, providing food, clothing, significant cultural practices, and knowledge-sharing. Current declines in many caribou populations—often coupled with hunting moratoriums—have significant impacts on Inuit food, culture, livelihoods, and well-being. Following an Inuit-led approach, this study characterized Inuit-caribou relationships; explored Inuit perspectives on how caribou have been managed; and identified opportunities for sustaining the Mealy Mountain Caribou. Qualitative data were collected in Rigolet, Nunatsiavut, Labrador, Canada through 21 in-depth interviews and two community open houses. Data were analyzed using constant comparative methods and thematic analysis. Rigolet Inuit described: how conservation management decisions had disrupted important connections among caribou and Inuit, particularly related to food, culture, and well-being; the socio-cultural and emotional impacts of the criminalization of an important cultural practice, as well as perceived inequities in wildlife conservation enforcement; and the frustration, anger, and hurt with not being heard or included in caribou management decisions. These results provide insights into experiences of historic and ongoing colonial wildlife management decisions, and highlight future directions for management initiatives for the health and well-being of Inuit and caribou. View Full-Text
Keywords: caribou; co-management; Inuit well-being; wildlife management; cultural continuity; Northern Canada; indigenous peoples caribou; co-management; Inuit well-being; wildlife management; cultural continuity; Northern Canada; indigenous peoples
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Snook, J.; Cunsolo, A.; Borish, D.; Furgal, C.; Ford, J.D.; Shiwak, I.; Flowers, C.T.R.; Harper, S.L. “We’re Made Criminals Just to Eat off the Land”: Colonial Wildlife Management and Repercussions on Inuit Well-Being. Sustainability 2020, 12, 8177.

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