Involving Northern Residents in Research Projects
Local residents and visiting researchers have much to offer each other. Northern people have an intimate knowledge of their community and the land. Their knowledge of local conditions and challenges, and their access to traditional knowledge, may suggest new directions for your research.
In addition, the North has changed rapidly and significantly over the last few decades. Many residents of NWT communities now possess high levels of scientific training and knowledge, and can provide valuable information and assistance to visiting researchers.
As a researcher, you can share your knowledge by speaking at community council meetings, giving talks at schools, providing non-technical posters to display at local libraries or community centres, and reaching out to the local newspaper and radio talk show. Alternatively, you can produce short, informal videos of your research with an emphasis on your fieldwork and results. Ultimately, you should seek effective ways of communicating your research to the local community – whatever works best for your public in the NWT, be it conventional tools or the use of new technology.
You should also consider including residents in field trips, calling out for local volunteers, or hiring residents to assist with your research. Staff at local organizations or research-related government agencies may be able to provide you with local contacts who do, or have done, scientific work in associated disciplines, or who have specific knowledge in your field.
By communicating your enthusiasm for your research and/or involving residents in your fieldwork, you may motivate local people to participate in science. Providing residents with an opportunity to participate in, or directly comment on, your research not only improves relations between researchers and residents, but also fosters a research-oriented community in the North.