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Bethany Haalboom,Ph.D.

Senior Research & Planning Associate

In June 2018, I was thrilled to become a member of the Odonaterra team as a Senior Research &. Planning Associate. Having worked with local communities, Indigenous communities and rights organizations, as well as environmental committees for the past 15 years, I wanted to be able to apply my research skills, as well as contribute to the right kind of company-a company working in a progressive way, that prioritizes community needs, visions, and capacity-building. Odonaterra fit that bill.

Something about me: I earned my Ph.D. in Environmental Studies from Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University, and my Master’s degree in Geography from McMaster University. The research I’ve carried out has been conducted with the aim of empowering andenhancing the lives of communities and Indigenous groups. It has also been used to inform the policy and practice of environmental planning with local communities, with a primary goal to support the introduction of more socially just environmental decision-making processes that level the playing field.

To this end, I have planned and co-facilitated workshops with Métis participants in North-Eastern Ontario to explore how they value the Ottawa River Watershed, and how they want to be involved in governing it. I use panel discussions, focus groups, historical timelines, seasonal calendars, and audio-visual techniques to engage workshop participants. I have also provided research support to Brunswick House First Nation in the development of consultation frameworks and best practices for Indigenous peoples’ involvement in forest management planning as they develop a Custom Consultation Approach. I am currently co-contributing to the development of a Community Land Use Plan for Mattagami First Nation, as part of their Lands and Economic Futures Path Project. 

As a Research Fellow at the Indigenous Land Management Institute, University of Saskatchewan, I carried out studies with the Northern Saskatchewan Environmental Quality Committee (NSEQC), examining environmental planning and management of uranium mines located near 32 Indigenous communities. These studies involved participant observation and note-taking of multi-stakeholder meetings over a 2-year time span, and facilitation of focus groups with Cree, Dene, and Métis committee members to understand their perceptions of scientific information, concerns about environmental impact assessments (including for a proposed ore haul route), and engagement with/use of Traditional Ecological Knowledge in environmental management (e.g. with remediation plans for the Gunnar uranium mine and mill site). 

I have also conducted research in Eastern Canada exploring the health concerns of community members living near the Sydney Tar Ponds in Sydney, Nova Scotia, one of the most contaminated commercial-industrial sites in Canada. I interviewed 30 community members to understand how they perceived risks associated with living near the Tar Ponds, heath concerns they had, and coping mechanisms they used in response to living near the Sydney Tar Ponds. 

In South America, I worked with the Association of Indigenous Village Leaders in Suriname (Bureau VIDS) and Lokono/Arowak peoples in Western Suriname to document their concerns regarding environmental impact assessments conducted for a proposed large-scale bauxite mine on their traditional lands. I spent 8 months in Suriname facilitating meetings with West Suriname leaders, as well as conducting over 60 interviews with community members, Indigenous rights organizations, government officials, researchers, and corporate stakeholders. This research documented the lack of rigour with consultation and social impact assessments, and the need for greater attention toward Indigenous land rights issues in the context of corporate social responsibility and mining. I also examined the potential impacts of the proposed Kaboeri Creek protected area on Lokono peoples, and their strategies and decision-making process in rejecting the strictly protected area. 

I have presented these research findings at 10 international conferences, including traveling to Kyoto, Japan as a member of the Indigenous Knowledges and Rights Commission of the International Geographic Union. I also co-organized the International Roundtable on Indigenous Community Planning and Land Use Management in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in 2010. I havetaught and given numerous guest lectures on community-based environmental management in Geography and Environmental Studies programs in Canada, the United States, and New Zealand since 2007 using small group, active learning approaches. In addition, I have published 13academic articles in journals such as Extractive Industries and Society, and published chapters in books that include Reclaiming Indigenous Planning.  From 2013-2016 I served as a Reviewer, Subject Editor, and Associate Editor for the acclaimed journal, Conservation and Society. I havereceived professional development certification in Dispute Resolution (participatory facilitativeapproach) and am a member of the Ontario Association for Impact Assessment.