Indigenous Governance Speaker Series: Dr. Samantha Darling

The Capacity Behind the Decisions: The Role of Research Capacity in Impact Assessment
Capacity, or lack thereof, is an often-cited challenge in the day-to-day operations of northern governance mechanisms, such as impact assessment (IA). I examine capacity at multiple scales (individual, organizational and network) and from different perspectives to clarify what capacity constraints look like in practice. I consider IA processes as knowledge-based activities, which shifts focus towards meaningful knowledge exchange and mutual support, while still acknowledging logistical challenges that arise. I draw on the experiences of IA practitioners in the Yukon to identify facilitators and challenges to the adoption and distribution of new knowledge, including the respectful consideration of Traditional Knowledge alongside new science. Adjustments to our approach to capacity building for IA would support development decisions and the consideration of the wide variety of existing perspectives within those decisions.

About the speaker:
I am a born and raised Yukoner and grew up on the Traditional Territories of the Jilḵáat Ḵwáan. Originally a physical geographer with beginnings at Yukon College, I have ten years of research and field experience in the Yukon. After my Masters, I was recruited to work with the YC management team developing the bones of the current IGD program and coordinating the FNGPA certificate. My experiences working with these programs led me to pivot towards the intersection between science and governance mechanisms for my PhD. Most recently, my focus has been on capacity challenges seen in impact assessment processes, particularly around research and knowledge. Overall, my work approaches capacity building from a knowledge-based perspective, where adjustments to the current system could alleviate some shared capacity constraints and facilitate discussions around development decisions.
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