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Different perspective

Newly minted PhD examines Innu and provincial government relations

special feature: Student success

Part of a special feature celebrating the success of Memorial's graduates. This feature coincides with spring convocation 2017.

By Janet Harron

Originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina, Carolina Tytelman came to Newfoundland and Labrador with her family via the Pacific Northwest to attend graduate school at Memorial.

She says she and her husband applied to a number of universities, but considered Memorial to be the ultimate “adventure.”

Dr. Carolina Tytelman in Labrador
Dr. Carolina Tytelman in Labrador.
Photo: Submitted

“Newfoundland was then a complete mystery to us,” she said.

Now, Dr. Tytelman has completed her doctoral degree, which she collected on May 31 during spring convocation ceremonies at the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre.

Her PhD focused on a forest co-management process between the Innu Nation and the provincial government. She and her family spent two years living in Central Labrador from 2007-09 while she completed her fieldwork.

Dr. Tytelman’s thesis, Place and Forest Co-Management in Nitassinan/Labrador, examines how well the co-management process and its institutions worked in representing both the Innu Nation and the provincial government.

In it she argues that Labrador and Nitassinan (the Innu territory) are different places that co-exist uneasily in the same location and that the object of the co-management process was not the same for the different participants.

Shock to the system

Dr. Tytelman says her time in Labrador was a shock, in more ways than one.

“I had never been in such cold.”

One of Dr. Carolina Tytelman's photos from the two years she spent doing fieldwork in Labrador.
One of Dr. Carolina Tytelman’s photos from the two years she spent in Labrador.

She was also surprised by how little Canadians in general know about Indigenous Peoples and about the North in general.

Memorial’s anthropology department is united in its praise of Dr. Tytelman. Dr. Mario Blaser, her graduate supervisor, says Dr. Tytelman’s work has been of “enormous quality” and that the whole department is very proud of her.

“I think that it is remarkable that this mother of two coming from South America went to live to Labrador with her family to do fieldwork . . . and not just for a short time, for two years,” said Dr. Blaser.

“It is very rare these days to see such commitment to not only research, but particularly towards the people and realities she was planning to write about. She knew she needed to really understand what it is to live in the place to grasp what it means for the Innu.”

Dr. Blaser characterizes her dissertation as an important work that is “conceptually innovative and theoretically daring.”

“This is the kind of thesis that should be published as a book.” — Dr. Mark Tate

Associate professor Dr. Mark Tate was a member of Dr. Tytelman’s committee. He considers her thesis to be outstanding in its insight of the Innu.

“This is the kind of thesis that should be published as a book. She has made excellent use of her fieldwork and experience in Labrador and really explains the point of view of the Innu, encompassing the past and the present.”

Not surprisingly for someone with her exceptional abilities, Dr. Tytelman was named a Fellow of the School of Graduate Studies at the 2017 graduate awards ceremony.

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