Indigenous stories as evidence: Using Linda Tuhiwai-Smith's 25 Indigenous Projects as an analysis framework
In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada released its final report and calls to action. The calls to action included, among many more, "Promoting public dialogue" and "engaging in meaningful consultation." This project was developed to investigate the use of storytelling as a culturally distinct participatory practice during public consultation. We used as a case study the government of Canada’s inquiry into declines of Sockeye salmon stocks in the Fraser River. The Cohen Commission called for interested parties to give evidence and 28 plus First Nation councils, bands and Indigenous organizations gained standing to submit testimony to the hearings.
Our project sought to answer the questions of whether storytelling was used by Indigenous participants, to what extent, in what forms, and to what purpose. In total we identified 125 indigenous submissions. 88 included at least one story told by approximately 40 speakers. We initially decoded the stories in two ways, however we felt those decodings did not do an adequate job of answering the third research question "Why were these particular stories told in this context?" We knew they weren’t told as entertainment. While re-reading - Linda Tuhewi-Smith’s Indigenous Methodologies, it struck us to try and use her "25 Indigenous Projects" as a decoding framework. We identified a total of 16 of the 25 projects as being represented through the stories and as giving purpose to their telling.