Andrea is using indigenous and transformative methodologies to frame culturally relevant protocols and forest governance structure that address and embrace KHFN's relationship to the forests as a Kwakwaka’wakw Nation.

Harry William Nelson
UBC Public Scholars Award

Research Description

While it is the provincial government that implements sustainable forest management in BC, the onus is on the First Nations to declare what rights and values that they want protected. The 2014 Tsilhqot’in British Columbia Supreme Court determined that the Province’s forest management was not sustainable because it ignored Aboriginal rights in the forest management planning process. Aboriginal rights are the constitutional rights to practice hunting, fishing, gathering, trapping and also governance rights and the spiritual and ceremonial use of lands. Judge Vickers ruled that the province develop a new sustainable forest management that included Aboriginal rights. Drawing on this background, my research revolves around three questions: 1) How does KHFN define their relationship with the forests? 2) How can our relationship with the forests be presented to various actors (KHFN, other First Nations, province, federal government, forest industry) so that KHFN values are protected? 3) How should policy change to address KHFN's relationship to the forests? Could these principles inform a broader provincial scale of policy reform? Using indigenous decolonizing methodologies, this study will have KHFN and its members to engage in a participatory research that would use their indigenous knowledge systems to develop a definition of sustainable forest management that respects the land, improves economic development for KHFN, serves KHFN members and the local economy and supports nation-building.

What does being a Public Scholar mean to you?

Being a public scholar is a great opportunity to join a network of burgeoning academics interested in giving back to their communities and to find ways to make change in policy from the ground up at community level and to find ways to aspire to make a difference at a wider scale. 

In what ways do you think the PhD experience can be re-imagined with the Public Scholars Initiative?

I am most excited in the opportunities to network with fellow public scholars, given the opportunity to share this research with others.

How do you envision connecting your PhD work with broader career possibilities?

I hope the research from my graduate studies brings new knowledge to a growing community of foresters that are in interested in new forestry models and how to build capacity in Aboriginal forestry. 

How does your research engage with the larger community and social partners?

I think once we start talking to one another, we will find that case studies at a local scale will have wider scale meaning. 

How do you hope your work can make a contribution to the “public good”?

While I agree it should be a researchers ethical standard to aspire to work towards the 'public good' (as it is mine), I think that there are problems in proclaiming that research outcomes will attain the 'public good'. This will be for the public to decide and after the fact. 

Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

I chose to pursue forestry and to become a professional forester because I loved the experience of tree planting in my traditional territory, Kingcome Inlet, BC in the early 1990s. However, when I flew over the area in a small floatplane, the size and number clear-cuts surrounding the community my mother grew up in impacted my view of environmental issues. I wanted to learn more in order to make a difference.

Why did you choose to come to British Columbia and study at UBC?

My interest to continue studies with the UBC Faculty of Forestry is due to its reputation for offering a top ranking forestry program in Canada. UBC is closely located to where I want to continue to build my professional and academic network. 


This study will have KHFN and its members to engage in a participatory research that would use their indigenous knowledge systems to develop a definition of sustainable forest management that respects the land and improves economic development for KHFN.