Kivett Knight, Janet

Name: Janet Kivett Knight
Position: Current Research Assistant; Former MA Student (Sustainability Studies, Trent University)
Research Projects: Various; Dimensions of Socio-Cultural Sustainability in Northern Indigenous Communities (MA thesis – completed)
Academic background: MA in Sustainability Studies (Trent University); BA Honours in International Development Studies (Trent University)
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About the researcher: 

I am currently a Research Assistant with the Nasivvik Centre for Inuit Health and Changing Environments. I am currently based in Vancouver, BC as I am completing a professional degree in Community and Regional Planning at UBC, specializing in Indigenous Communities Planning. My work focuses on the role of Comprehensive Community Plans (CCPs) as means of protecting and incorporating fundamental aspects of socio- cultural sustainability in the implementation of community plans.

This planning perspective builds on my previous MA research (Sustainability Studies, Trent University), which addressed the need in research and policy to identify and validate key aspects of socio-cultural sustainability in the context of Northern, Indigenous communities; those things that residents identify as socially and culturally important and that support resilience and a sense of well-being within the community.

Without thorough consideration of a community’s socio-cultural foundations, these changes have the potential to manifest in loss of traditional lifestyles, cultural health and social stability. As well, neglect of these dimensions may actually serve to undermine overall sustainability, through the neglect of social and cultural factors which inform interaction with the natural environment, and determine community capacity for adaptation to change. This is particularly apparent in Northern, isolated and Indigenous communities, wherein these impacts represent an ongoing legacy of communities’ separation from the land in which they are culturally embedded.

I came to this research after years of engagement with community development, and having lived and worked in the North. My interest in sustainability developed through personal and professional experience, witnessing community-level implications of processes of change (such as climate change, natural resource development and community growth) on the social and cultural dimensions of communities. In my thesis project and RA work, I have had the privilege of working with the residents of the Nunatsiavut Inuit Settlement Region, on the north coast of Labrador, particularly the community of Hopedale.

In my time as an RA with Nasivvik I have also assisted with projects on food security, the use of community freezers, and risk communication around the consumption of country foods, as well as program evaluation for the Centre.

I currently also work part-time with a planning firm in Vancouver.

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