ProjectThe socio-cultural interrelations and the socio-spatial dynamics between dogs and people in the Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach
Dogs have been an integral part of the physical, social, economic and cultural environment of the Naskapi First Nation of Kawawachikamach but are also a health risk in contemporary Northern communities through attacks, bites, injuries, and the transmission of rabies and other zoonoses. These dog-related health issues are exacerbated by the lack of, or limited access to, veterinary services and dog overpopulation. My overall research question is: What are the interrelations between people and dogs in the Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach and what effects do they have on the wellbeing of the population living in this community. To answer this questions, I pursue two specific research objectives. The first objective is to analyze the evolution of socio-cultural interrelations between humans and dogs in Kawawachikamach by using semi-structured interviews and Photovoice. Individual interviews will be conducted on participant's perceptions, observations and experiences regarding the implications of the high dog population and the solutions currently being used to tackle the issue. A Photovoice project will be carried out in the community, inviting all members to submit a photograph representing the importance/issues of concern and/or the role of their dogs. This methodology will provide space to identify and record voices and stories of community member about their dogs (Palibroda et al., 2009). The second objective is to analyze the socio-spatial dynamics between humans, dogs, and wildlife, which are identified as a source of transmission for zoonoses. Participatory mapping will be carried out during the interviews to monitor the spatial distribution and frequency of human-dog-wildlife contacts. This section of the project will establish geographical locations that are avoided, those known as having a high number of stray dogs or dog packs, as well as human perceptions and local observations on the locations of wildlife interactions and paths used for dog walking. This methodology will permit the superposition of maps drawn by different groups of participants (i.e. elders, women, etc.) to identify trends, similarities, and difference as well as zones of conflicts. The results of the community based participatory-action research will be used as a basis to develop a framework for a community-based action plan as well as to develop a local atlas for a community dog monitoring tool. It will also provide community empowerment through a community Photovoice project that will be a basis for an exhibit and a calendar. This research will ultimately aim to contribute to improving the health and wellness of the Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach in Northern Quebec by mitigating dog-associated health risks and by supporting the role of dogs in health and wellness.