Social-Ecological Thresholds in a Changing Boreal Landscape: Insights from Cree Knowledge of the Lesser Slave Lake Region of Alberta, Canada

Brenda L. Parlee (University of Alberta), Karen Geertsema (University of Alberta) and Allen Willier (Lesser Slave Lake Indian Regional Council)

Ecology and Society 17(2): 20.

ABSTRACT
Drawing on the traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) of the Lesser Slave Lake Cree, this paper shares understanding of how resource development has affected water, fish, forests, and wildlife as well as the well-being of Cree communities in the Lesser Slave Lake region of Alberta, Canada. In addition to descriptive observations of change, the narratives point to social-ecological thresholds or tipping points in the relationship of Cree harvesters to local lands and resources. Specifically, the study speaks to the echoing effects of ecological loss and degradation on traditional livelihood practices over the last 100 years highlighting the complexity of cumulative effects as well as the challenges of balancing resource development in the region with alternative land uses including those valued by Alberta’s Aboriginal peoples.

Key words: Aboriginal; ecosystem change; monitoring; traditional knowledge

http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol17/iss2/art20