Bryan S. R. Grimwood, Ph.D.* - University of Waterloo
The issue of sustainability is at the forefront of much recent tourism research in Arctic regions. In Canadian Arctic and Subarctic tourism contexts, social-cultural-ecological change is understood as both a threat to supply side resources and a driver of apparent increases in demand. Moreover, it is increasingly recognized that tourism in these areas is situated within complex and dynamic systems that involve power imbalances between diverse knowledges, practices, institutions and, ultimately, values. If tourism is to foster inclusive and adaptive visions of a sustainable Arctic, cooperation across such scales of difference is necessary.
This paper reports on case study research from the Thelon River in Arctic Canada to illuminate inclusive value-based metaphors that may prove useful in creating the kinds of equitable and cooperative spaces necessary for responding to Arctic change. Drawing on relational geographic approaches to ethics and mobility, and empirical insights derived from mobile ethnographic investigations of experiential river journeys with tourists and Inuit inhabitants of the Thelon River, the paper depicts diverse riverscape practices as expressions of "nature-culture" values: namely, emplacement, wayfaring, and gathering. In their fluidity, connectedness, and indeterminacy, these values contribute to opening up divisive and deterministic categories (e.g., nature vs. culture), which pervade sustainability discourses and tend to privilege certain perspectives over others. As such, this paper aims to create new conceptual terrains for engaging sustainable partnerships for sustainable futures.