By PAM SNOW
CHANGE ISLANDS – The culture, history and way of life on Change Islands have for many generations centered on fishing.
Any loss of this traditional centerpiece is a cultural loss to Canada. This is according to researchers involved in a collaborative project undertaken on the inshore fishery, based on research in and around Change Islands over the course of five years.
A research team including three co-investigators, undergraduate and graduate students completed the extensive research project. Researchers Dr. Derek Smith (Carleton University), Dr. Maureen Woodrow (University of Ottawa), and Dr. Kelly Vodden (Memorial University) have been working closely with Change Islanders to build upon local knowledge to improve fisheries management measures and the sustainability of the small island.
A dozen people came out to the Change Islands Town Hall on March 9 for a community workshop and presentation of the research findings and an open round table discussion regarding the policy briefs and creation of local maps.
The participants were informed the policy briefs and maps were created for potential audiences including policy makers, university researchers, inshore fish harvesters, high school students and tourists. The policy briefs will also be sent to officials through mail and electronic mail in the coming weeks.
“We hope we get a lot of people to look at this,” said Dr. Derek Smith, via Skype presentation. “I was amazed at how many places around the island had names. Most of the 200 names added to the map were never known outside oral knowledge or community history.
“This map is a great example of how much knowledge there is in the community and how much cultural heritage remains. For me it was really a wonderful experience to be involved in this.”
The Traditional Cod Fishing Grounds of the Community of Change Islands map is dedicated to the memory of Bert White (1929-2012), “who fished these waters for many years.”
Maps of the region based on local knowledge can be found on the project website that was developed at www.localknowledgechangeislands.ca.