December 8, 2003 For Immediate Release
UNBC and the Tl'azt'en Nation will partner on a significant research project that will help to realize the vision of First Nations to effectively manage natural resources in ways that are ecologically and culturally sustainable.
The research will be based at the John Prince Research Forest near Fort St James, which is jointly managed by the Tl'azt'en Nation and UNBC. The study will examine how the co-management partnership can be strengthened, how traditional ecological knowledge can inform resource management, how educational programs for Tl'azt'en youth can integrate traditional knowledge with western science, and how tourism opportunities can be developed.
"This project will go a long way to strengthening our relationship with the University of northern BC, as we build capacity to manage our natural resources within the context of traditional practices," says Deborah Page, Adult Education Coordinator for the Tl'azt'en Nation and a member of the research team. "Our land is our teacher and we need to re-incorporate this knowledge into our children's curriculum."
"Linking faculty and students with First Nations will help to build local capacity for the Tl'azt'en to more actively engage in managing the resources on their traditional territory," says Geography professor Gail Fondahl, who is the principal investigator for the project. "The project has many vital elements: designing relevant education for young people, linking elders with youth, exploring options for tourism, and providing opportunities for UNBC students and local residents to engage in research together."
The research project will occur over five years and involve dozens of people. The federal Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) is providing $1 million in funding. The Tl'azt'en/UNBC project is one of only 15 projects nationwide that have received funding this year from the SSHRC Community University Research Alliance program. There were nearly 80 proposals for funding.
The John Prince Research Forest is comprised of 13,000 ha of Tl'azt'en traditional territory and currently supports about half-a-dozen research projects.