As a Biology student, I have certainly learned about this example of trophic cascades in BIOL 121, 230, 209, etc. Today, however, is the first time I’ve learned the context of the reintroduction of sea otters after their 200-year absence due to being hunted to extinction. It is hard to fathom that in 1969 and 1970, the BC Government introduced sea otters into Kyuquot Sound with no consultation of any First Nations groups. In previous years I have only learned about sea otters in the context of the infographic I have attached: “hooray for more kelp and biodiversity!”.
Since the age of 12, I have known about and seen ‘midden’ located in island groups surrounding Vancouver Island (see the picture of me attached). Midden is an archaeological remnant of indigenous shellfish farms and essentially a type of early Aquaculture. This summer I learned about sea urchins being a delicacy in many coastal indigenous cuisines (I have attached a picture where I have a dead sea urchin). Sea urchins were described to me as “almost like a buttery fish”. Yet, I still did not make the connection that the decrease of sea urchins and other shellfish would affect the food security, livelihood, and culture of many coastal indigenous communities until we learned about this topic today.
The above example goes to show that I have a set of perspectives that can be very narrow at times. Luckily, this can be remedied by broadening our minds by encouraging other people with different perspectives to collaborate on our thinking process. The Recognitional dimension of Justice is very new to me. Yet, right now, I recognize this dimension of justice as absolutely critical and perhaps one that people (myself included) may overlook the most. I strive to be proactive in seeking out other perspectives and asking others about their values and worldviews. When I think about democracy, this is what I would like: more recognitional justice. I hope that future politics and projects work collaboratively with indigenous peoples and other historically (and currently) marginalized communities.
I love your post so much Inez! I think it's so interactive and very well crafted!
This post is so cool, Inze! That is such an interesting post I have ever seen. I love these photos that provide many interesting and make the post very easy to understand. It is a good way to connect your own experience with ecology. We need to collaborate with indigenous peoples to create a better community.
Wow Inez, what a post! Really raised the bar here for everyone of us ;) Thanks for sharing your knowledge and the beautiful kayaking pictures, jealous!
This is so cool! I love the photos! I feel like I learned more from your post than I did in any biology class. I has no clue what a midden was. It is so cool and interesting how many different perspective there are out there on the topics we cover in classes
Wow Inez!! What a fantastic post! I absolutely adored the photos and infographic that you shared and how you were able to connect our lesson with your own personal experiences. As a biology student I really resonate with your feelings about learning a new perspective when it comes to the reintroduction of sea otters and I'm thankful for the opportunity to learn more.
Nicely said Inez (and also nice pictures!) Having taken numerous ecology courses, as well as experience working with government agencies, I do find the Western notion of "Science" is very black and white in making ecological decisions, and often mis-considered the nuances of the people living in the system. Just land the case of sea otter reintroduction: Trophic cascade theory said otter good, no otter bad. Therefore introducing otter is good, without considering the livelihoods and relationships of indigenous peoples and local communities. In the classic otter-urchin-kelp story from ecology classes, urchin is always being painted as the villain. I was shock to learn about the cultural value of urchins to indigenous communities. I think bottom line is, we have to stop thinking about society and ecosystems are two separate entities, but rather think of them as socio-ecological system. Every part of the system is essential, and should be considered and consulted for any decisions.
The situation with the reintroduction of otters to BC coasts is just messy all around. The government’s decision to act without any external input is clearly unjust, but even if Indigenous Peoples were consulted, how would biodiversity be weighed against relational values? It’s really difficult to evaluate the net effect, especially since some Indigenous groups favor the introduction of otters. I think it’s important to acknowledge that First Nations peoples are not a monolith, and have many differing perspectives. With that said, I think you made some great points about how recognitional justice is essential going forward. It also really hit home when you talked about how narrow our perspectives can be: it’s probably something none of us are truly conscious of.
I also come from a very biology heavy background, and similar to yourself have only heard about the benefits sea otters have brought to BC's coasts. Learning that they were reintroduced without any consideration for the Indigenous and coastal communities was absolutely astounding! It's really made me question what other decisions have been made that have negatively impacted communities without these downsides being broadcasted alongside the perceived benefits.