What we know and don't know about northern jìe (berries)
June 19, 2023
The WRRB began on-the-ground research and collecting data to support a project aiming to learn more about jìe (berries) in the Northwest Territories.
Aimee Guile, WRRB Conservation Biologist, visited Wekweètì from May 1 to 3 and did eight interviews with Elders and Indigenous Knowledge Keepers regarding their practices of jìe gathering.
Earlier this year, similar interviews were held with Elders in Behchokǫ̀ and Gamètì by project lead Claire Singer and GNWT employee Johanna Stewart.
Interviews will be held in Whatì this summer.
“During my time in Wekweètì, we asked interviewees about the places they go to pick jìe (berries), if they’ve seen that conditions and availability of berries have changed, and if they might have any stories about picking jìe (berries),” Guile explained.
“We are very excited about this project because we feel it will lead to a better understanding of what is happening to an important traditional food source across the region.”
The interviews focus on all jìe in the NWT with some communities having a greater focus on some species over others. In Wek'èezhìı, species of berries include, but are not limited to Įtł'ǫ̀ (cranberries), gots’ǫkà, (cloudberries), jìewà (blueberries) as well as dahkàà (raspberries) and edzèa (strawberries).
The gathered knowledge will be compiled into a draft report for the Tłı̨chǫ region before interviewers contact the communities to verify the information in the coming months. Once the Tłı̨chǫ report is finalized it will be included in a larger body of work that covers the entire Northwest Territories.
Co-op student wanted for Berry Project!
The Indigenous Knowledge of Berries in the Northwest Territories project is also looking for a co-op student for assistance.
The project, which involves the WRRB partnering with Indigenous knowledge holders, university researchers, and staff from the GNWT, is working to learn about the status and changes in jìe across the Northwest Territories.
The prospective student will ideally be a second or third year undergraduate student in geography, biology, environmental science/studies, Indigenous studies or similar.
The job will involve transcribing and coding interviews with Elders and assisting with research logistics and providing technical support for interviewers.
Please see the job posting for more details.