1. Dr. Arshad Khalafzai
  2. Climate Emergency
  3. Tuesday, 09 June 2020

Kashechewan First Nation, located in the southwestern James Bay (Subarctic) region of northern Ontario, is frequently affected by the flooding risk and recurring evacuations. Residents have been evacuated 14 times since 2004 (consecutively from 2004-2008 and 2012-2019) to at least 22 different host communities across Ontario. This dissertation provides valuable insights into the nature of spring flooding and its impacts from the perspectives of Kashechewan residents. The aim of this research is to examine how Kashechewan First Nation is affected by and responds to floods. Specific objectives are to explore First Nation’s flood-related observations on changes in frequency and intensity of floods, to examine residents’ experiences of impacts of frequent flooding risk and recurring evacuations, and to determine the community’s perceived adaptive capacity to spring flooding.

Through a collaboration with Kashechewan First Nation, data were collected from 155 participants using mixed methods research. The qualitative methods included semi-structured interview and participatory flood mapping, including on-site walk and photography. Qualitative data were collected to understand the increased flooding risk, flooding impacts, and evacuation experiences of residents. Quantitative data were collected through survey research to assess perceived adaptive capacity. This research included all subgroups of the community, such as socioeconomic, sociocultural, and demographic. Qualitative data were analysed using NVivo, ArcMap, GIS, and Google Earth. The semi-structured interview data were coded and analysed using a mix of descriptive and analytical coding schemes. Categories were made using the words of participants, which were commonly used. Analytical codes were also derived from the research literature, previous studies, and the researcher’s understanding of the rich qualitative data collected. The data collected using flood mapping workshops and on-site walks were analysed in ArcMap, GIS and Google Earth to produce scaled maps. The survey data was analysed in SPSS and used descriptive and inferential statistics. The nonparametric statistics of one-sample Chi-square, Spearman’s (rho) correlation coefficient, Friedman’s χ2 two-way analysis of variance (ANOVA), and principal component analysis were employed.

The findings contribute to the literature on natural hazards, DRR, and climate change adaptation. This research is especially unique because it has brought new methodological and theoretical insights into the research, combining qualitative and quantitative methods to facilitate an in-depth investigation of spring flooding by employing a mixed case study approach. The first contribution is the documentation of community-specific traditional knowledge concerning spring flooding characteristics and river morphology to identify the major drivers of increased flooding risk and recurring evacuations. These findings complement the existing spring flooding data collated by natural scientists and contribute to the literature on the spring breakup ice jamming phenomenon to better understand ecological and human-induced changes to mitigate flooding risk. The contribution is involving traditional and scientific knowledge systems about warming temperatures, and the spring breakup ice jamming contributes to bridging the gap between the two diverse knowledge systems. Second, this research has explored the experiences of the short-term evacuations of residents that happened 14 times since 2004. The findings are unique because there is a lack of research about how people and a community are affected by recurring evacuations. This research also revealed the consequential negative effects due to repeated evacuations on the community's sociocultural, emotional, and spiritual well-being. The finding of enhanced resilience and coping capacity is a significant contribution to the literature.

Third, this research contributes to the literature on adaptive capacity by focusing on the perceived capacity of the First Nation. The adaptive capacity literature mainly focuses on objective capacity. This research shows that perceived capacity is as important as the objective capacity to determine total adaptive capacity. The fourth contribution is the use of survey research and the integrated socio-ecological system approach to assessing perceived capacity involving a First Nation. This is the first application of the method and the approach in northern Canada to assess perceived adaptive capacity. The use of structured interviews contributes to the literature by showing that survey research involving northern Indigenous communities can be culturally appropriate.
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Interesting study and we've been looking at a range of different disaster scenarios and solutions in flood plains. This is a good example of something we think will become an issue along our flood plain regions and coastal communities as climate change impact continues to mount. I find myself questioning (as I looked at the layout and housing in their town) with curiosity now, about what has been proposed as solutions. Obviously there are most likely issues with moving the townspeople on certain levels, but have there also been proposals for solutions such as ways to change the housing structures to accommodate flooding and solutions that have been used in the Netherlands, etc. I've done some work in new Orleans in these areas. I am just now curious.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. Climate Emergency
  3. # 1
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Thank you, Alexandra, for your interesting question and your interest in my research.
The community is too small invest too much money in terms of structural measures as it is not viable financially because the risk would remain high essentially due to the nature of the break ice jam flooding. The big chunk of ice can destroy even strong structures. However, the new houses constructed recently have been built on stilts, about 2-3 feet high from the ground to avoid floodwater seepage. These houses are not designed to relocated but can be moved with some wear and tear.
I can share further information by sending you (via email if you like) one of my related publication, which provides details concerning your questions.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. Climate Emergency
  3. # 2
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