Jennifer Grenz has a B.Sc in Agroecology from the University of British Columbia where she is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in Integrated Studies in Land and Food Systems. Jennifer has been working in the field of invasive plant management for 17 years for various non-profit agencies with her most recent post as Executive Director of the Invasive Species Council of Metro Vancouver. She currently works as a consultant/contractor on invasive species management issues for all levels of government. Jennifer served on the board of the North American Invasive Species Management Association and was President in 2013. Jennifer has traveled extensively across North America presenting key note lectures on invasive species management issues and effective communication strategies to different government agencies including US Senators and House Representatives. Jennifer is Interior Salish and her family comes from the Lytton First Nation. Her current work is the culmination of her experience in invasive species management and her Indigeneity. Supported by a Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada Fellowship, Jen is examining the application of an Indigenous world view to Invasion Biology and Ecological Restoration. A farm kid most of her life, Jen is happy to carry on this tradition with her husband and three children on their small farm in Parksville, BC where they raise chickens and do custom growing for local chefs.
Title: Embracing relational science: What an indigenous worldview offers complicated issues in invasive species management
Indigenous perspectives on invasive species are largely unknown. Informed by Western science, the specific impacts of invasive species are often generalized and not well understood. Common approaches to ecological restoration are rooted is the native versus non-native dichotomy which equates native species with evolutionary fitness. Food insecurity is one of the most significant challenges facing Indigenous communities. Traditional foods are nutritionally superior making their availability important. Integration of Indigenous ecological knowledge in land management while increasingly popular, may not provide the full benefit that the application of the Indigenous world view can. Integration may provide snippets of valuable information but is often context specific and does not acknowledge the depth of relationship between Indigenous peoples and their land. The goal of this study is to answer the question, “What does the application an Indigenous worldview to ecological restoration tell us about the impacts of invasive species on Indigenous food security and food sovereignty in the context of our changing climate?” Working with Cowichan Tribes on the restoration of their ancient village site, Ye’yumnuts, as well as other traditional knowledge holders, we gathered oral histories, stories, and perspectives pertaining to invasive species and our role in managing the natural environment. The application of Indigenous research methodology to this complicated field of study revealed new insights into species assessment and ecological restoration. The acknowledgement of values and relationality played a vital role in developing a framework to guide land management decisions that reflects an Indigenous worldview, cultural values and allowed us to redefine and reclaim practices that protect food security and sovereignty for generations to come.