Canadian Inuit use of caribou and Swedish Sámi use of reindeer in entrepreneurship.

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Theses / Dissertations
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Doctor of Philosophy
University of Canterbury. Management and Entrepreneurship
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Meis Mason, Aldene Helen

The primary objective of this thesis was to develop knowledge and understanding about how traditional resources can be used for entrepreneurship and economic development. This was accomplished by systematically studying how the Canadian Inuit, Swedish Sámi and other indigenous people use Rangifer tarandus for enterprise. The Inuit and Sámi are indigenous circumpolar people living in Canada and Northern Europe for more than 4000 years. Rangifer tarandus known as caribou or tuktu by the Canadian Inuit and reindeer by the Sámi has been a key resource for survival.

A literature review was conducted relating 1) to Canadian Inuit, Swedish Sámi and other selected circumpolar indigenous people use of caribou or reindeer for enterprise, and 2) indigenous entrepreneurship, particularly from traditional resources, and how this is affected by context and culture. Research methods included descriptive exploratory comparative cases, participative observation, snowball sampling as well as indigenous research methods. Five field sites were visited: Rankin Inlet and Coral Harbour in Nunavut; Inukjuak in Nunavik, Quebec; Happy Valley-Goose Bay/ North West River in Labrador; and Jokkmokk, in Northern Sweden.

The thesis explored: 1) Why are the Inuit hunters of caribou and the Sámi herders of reindeer? 2) What were the products and value-added processing? 3) Why have the Sámi successfully sold their meat and products in the international market while the Inuit have only recently begun to do so? 4) How has their culture and traditional knowledge affected the entrepreneurship including innovation and opportunity recognition? 5) What barriers have they faced and how have these been overcome? 6) How have they measured the success of their enterprises? 7) What can they learn from each other?

The findings indicated the Inuit and Sámi uses of caribou and reindeer for enterprise were very different. Context and culture were extremely important. Indigenous people living at similar latitudes and making use of a similar species had very different trajectories and outcomes in indigenous economic development and entrepreneurship from Rangifer tarandus. Themes such as resource availability, cultural propensity, remoteness and geographic location, kinship and social capital, infrastructure, measures of success, indigenous knowledge and wisdom, and innovation and adaptation were important.

This work made a significant contribution as little consideration had been given to the voice and perspectives of the Canadian Inuit and Swedish Sámi in the emerging field of indigenous entrepreneurship especially as it relates to traditional resources and practices. It also helped to identify other potential commercial uses of caribou thus it provided more potential value added from the commercial harvesting and processing. These opportunities could assist in increasing Inuit employment, income, self-reliance, and community esteem.

The research findings have implications for 1) the field of indigenous entrepreneurship, 2) policy makers, and 3) indigenous entrepreneurship education.

It provides international comparisons of two indigenous peoples using a similar species and focused on the use of traditional resources and culture as a basis for business creation and operation.

Indigenous entrepreneurship, Inuit, Sweden, Canada, community entrepreneurship, Sámi, caribou, reindeer herding, Indigenous economic development, wild-life, traditional resources
Ngā upoko tukutuku/Māori subject headings
ANZSRC fields of research
Copyright Aldene Helen Meis Mason