Eating in the Oil Sands: How Boreal Forest Foods Speak to us with Dr. Janelle Baker, OPT IDC Lecture Series

VC102 or online

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"Eating the Oil Sands" event poster

The Boreal Forest in what is now known as subarctic Canada is often overlooked as an abundant food source by settlers, but it continues to be a celebrated source of food and identity for sakawiyiniwak (Northern Bush Cree) communities. This tension is exacerbated by a rapid influx of oil and gas and logging activities in sakawiyiniwak territories. Through my ethnographic research in partnership with Bigstone Cree Nation, I describe how various food plants and animals are symbols of larger cultural and environmental actions on the land. From the view of the most valued food species, this talk will tell the story of sakawiyiniwak stewardship, reciprocity, environmental monitoring, and sovereignty.

Janelle Marie Baker is Associate Professor in Anthropology at Athabasca University in what is now known as northern Alberta, Canada. Her research is on sakâwiyiniwak (Northern Bush Cree) experiences with wild food contamination in Treaty No. 8 territory, which is an area of extreme extraction of bitumen (oil sands) and forests. In this context, Janelle collaborates with Bigstone Cree Nation environmental monitors using community-based methods and ethnoecology to test moose and water samples, while partnering with toxicologists and microbiologists who study sources of potential harmful contaminants. Janelle is also co-PI with Métis anthropologist Zoe Todd on a project that is restor(y)ing land use governance and bull trout population health in a contested area of the Rocky Mountain foothills in Alberta, Canada. This work has grown into a CIHR-funded project working with Stoney Nakoda Women to test traditional foods for selenium. Janelle is a Co-Editor of Ethnobiology Letters, a diamond open-access online peer-reviewed journal. She is the winner of the 2019 Canadian Association for Graduate Studies - ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award, Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences category.

This event is hosted by the Oxford-Penn-Toronto International Doctoral Cluster (OPT-IDC). 

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