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Sustainable communities in a time of change

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13:30, Thursday 11 May 2023 EDT (1 hour 30 minutes)
Coffee break - SH-4800   03:00 PM to 03:30 PM (30 minutes)

Session convenors: Marie Louise Aastrup, Memorial University and Roza Tchoukaleyska, Western University


Paper 1: Coastal fishing communities in a changing and uncertain environment in Cameroon 

Author: Richard A Nyiawung, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Geography, Environment and Geomatics, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada

Abstract: Multiple stressors are affecting the viability and resilience of people and coastal fishing communities in Cameroon. The unfolding impacts of climate change and human anthropogenic activities exert pressure on the coastal and fisheries systems resulting in rapid changes and social complexities. Additionally, the ongoing political crisis – ‘the anglophone crisis’ and the emerging impacts of COVID-19 has further exacerbated the vulnerabilities of coastal fishing communities in Cameroon. However, people are responding in various ways to ensure the resilience of their communities and livelihoods. This paper draws on the fish-as-food framework to examine how changes in these communities create social complexities and governance challenges. The paper builds on an extensive ethnographic study of people in coastal fishing communities in Cameroon whose livelihoods are centred around fisheries-related activities. The findings show that despite limited support from the government, people, through different individual and community actions, are mobilizing their limited capital assets and developing strategies to improve their lives and ensure the resilience of the fisheries system and community. The paper shows that enhancing the existing capital assets of people in these communities is an important pathway in building resilience in coastal communities in Cameroon. 

Keywords: Coastal resilience, response strategies, fisherfolks, environmental change, Cameroon 

Paper 2: The value of language in urban sustainability

Authors: Annika Airas  & Meg Holden, Urban Studies Program, Simon Fraser University


Abstract: City regions are often cited as key areas for facilitating change for more sustainable futures. Urban scholars and practitioners are expected to showcase proficiency with a range of established sustainability best practices, approaches, and techniques. Yet many of these ideas are formulated in English and often practiced without question. There is little inquiry within scholarship and practice as to what lies beyond literal translations of sustainability approaches, and what this means for their applicability. Recent scholarship has shown the learning potential of local languages, intergenerational knowledge, lived experiences, relational ontologies, and storytelling. Thus, new pedagogical and research approaches are needed which centre the value of language in sustainability thinking. In our work, we are responding to this challenge through workshop learning which draws on theory in “translanguaging” (Mazak & Carroll, 2016). These workshops are undertaken in a series of interdisciplinary sustainability graduate seminars, with multilingual as well as monolingual sustainability learners. Together with colleagues and students, we question the role of English as a lingua franca, aim to diversify urban development debates, and challenge the idea of sustainability as a purely technical and measurable practice. We are exploring sustainability concepts in diverse languages – ideas which are hard to translate into English as they contain place-based historical and social values and meanings that change over time. We are learning about the potential of translation and meaning making while identifying gaps in sustainability knowledge. This approach to local language-based understandings of climate and sustainability also opens up fruitful dialogue across and between languages that can serve to decentre the dominance of English in sustainability and climate discourse. We argue that sustainability and climate conversations must be considered beyond universal definitions, thereby placing more value on local understandings and lived knowledges that can enrich thinking and action as we aim to build more sustainable urban communities.

Paper 3: Title: Supporting resilient communities: the role of university-community partnerships

Marie Louise Aastrup, Faculty of Business Administration, Memorial University; 

Rachel Atkins, Port au Choix Community Place, Newfoundland; Joan Cranston, Bonne Bay Cottage Hospital Heritage Corporation, Newfoundland; Renee Pilgrim, St. Anthony & Area Garden Society, Newfoundland; Dawn Pittman, Western Regional School of Nursing & Memorial University; Roza Tchoukaleyska, Department of Geography & Environment, Western University


Abstract: Through this presentation, we will introduce the Great Northern Peninsula Research Collective (GNP-RC), a Newfoundland-based community-academic partnership, and we will reflect on the role of the network in creating durable research relationships and positively contributing to the local area. Established in 2019, the GNP-RC brings together community organizations and university faculty, staff, and students to co-create research projects which are geographically focused on the Great Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland, along the Gros Morne to St Anthony corridor. Thus far, projects have covered topics related to rural health access, food security, aging-in-place, economic innovation, and rural philanthropy, all of which have had a  focus on how community-based social enterprise can support community development and resilience. Our work has involved a number of academic and non-academic grants and included in-person and hybrid engagement sessions. As we reflect on our experiences with the GNP-RC, we will comment on both our individual contributions and the wider lessons which can be learnt about effective and sustainable community-university research collaborations. We will also consider the meaning of ‘community resilience’ (Wilson, 2015; Cavaye and Ross, 2019) and the role of social enterprise and community-led initiatives in sustaining coastal regions

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