Monitoring Expertise: A perspective on environmental impacts monitoring in northeast British Columbia




Twerdoclib, Christine

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The shale gas industry in northeast British Columbia is rapidly expanding and is promoted by the provincial government as a promising economic venture for the entire province. However, the industry is having impacts on the traditional territory of the Fort Nelson First Nation, although they have constitutionally recognized treaty rights to continue to use the land to meet their subsistence needs. I conducted this research in partnership with the Fort Nelson First Nation Department of Lands and Resources, with a focus on critically assessing the challenges they face. This research focuses on determining how the Fort Nelson First Nation can protect their treaty rights by taking control of, or inserting themselves into the data collection and monitoring activities of the shale gas industry. Utilizing a theory of knowledge politics, this research analyzes two strategies that challenge what knowledge should count, and on what terms: (1) the Fort Nelson First Nation’s participation and appropriation of the professionalized science regime and (2) the development of the Fort Nelson First Nation’s community-based monitoring program and its ability to impact decision-making. Drawing on primary research, participant observation, literature reviews and document analyses, I argue that these strategies are crucial and can create – but do not guarantee – links to affecting natural resource management decisions.



Shale gas, First Nations, Natural resource management, Environmental impacts monitoring, Decision-making, British Columbia