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The development of multi-level governance for the management of polar bears in Nunavut Territory, Canada

Dowsley, Martha Gwynne McCall





This thesis examines the complex social ecological system involving polar bear management in Nunavut and its conversion from a top-down system to a multi-level governance system. The interactions of the governance scale with the biophysical, economic and social/cultural scales are explored, with emphasis placed on the local levels of these scales. Co-management, as an instituted method of governance, is also examined to evaluate the incorporation of the Euro-Canadian and Inuit ideologies regarding polar bears. The hypothesis that Inuit would gain power through the authority granted to them in co-management was supported. However, the hypothesis that individual polar bear harvesters and other Inuit involved in the formal governance system would adopt the Euro-Canadian ideology due to the influences of the market economy and historic power of the top-down governance system was not well supported. Instead, Inuit used the Euro-Canadian tools of science and the market economy, but resisted top-down management views and the commoditization of polar bears in the market economy. Traditional understandings of social relationships among humans and between humans and bears based on the social economy of subsistence were used to oppose Euro-Canadian views in co-management and in structuring the use of polar bears for economic reasons.

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