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Research Presentation

Fri., Feb. 26, 2016 10:00 a.m. - Fri., Feb. 26, 2016 11:00 a.m.

Location: Education Building, Room 558

The Faculty of Business Administration hosts a regular Speakers Series, including regular Research Presentations by Faculty members (October through April).

Presenter: Dr. Aldene Meis Mason

Presentation: Lessons from the Canadian Inuit and Swedish Sámi – Indigenous Enterprise from Caribou/Reindeer


In 2003, I wrote a teaching case “Kivalliq Tundra Brand Caribou ‐ Traditional Arctic Food about how the
Canadian Inuit in Nunavut had developed an international market for caribou meat products. This
evolved into my PhD research under the European model. I drew a circle around the animal and asked
about all the ways the Inuit had used caribou traditionally and how they were using it for enterprise
today. I then compared this with the Swedish Sami use of reindeer for commercial purposes.
My literature review provided context by examining the impact of climate change on northern latitudes
Indigenous people, the commercial use of Rangifer tarandus by circumpolar Inuit peoples, and the
academic theories about Indigenous entrepreneurship in many countries.

My PhD thesis has brought forward the voices and perspectives of the Canadian Inuit and Swedish Sámi
in the field of Indigenous entrepreneurship. Before this research, only two major exploratory studies
had examined Inuit entrepreneurship in northern Canada (Dana, 1996 and Wuttunee, 1992).
Many previous studies involving Inuit use of caribou had taken a resource management
perspective (Dragon, 2002; Junkin; 2005; Nuttal et al., 2005). My doctoral research was the first
study to use a holistic, descriptive case study approach to study Inuit and Sámi
entrepreneurship. I also used Indigenous research methodology appropriate for working with
Canadian Inuit communities. I visited four Inuit communities in northern Canada and one Sami
community in northern Sweden. I conducted more than 85 interviews with Elders and key
informants. I talked with men and women who had livelihood enterprises such as seamstresses,
doll makers, carvers, hunters, cultural tourist operators, and meat processors. I also looked at
commercial harvests and processing (those that had continued and some that had
discontinued). I needed to remain true to the Canadian Inuit and Swedish Sámi voices and
perspectives and then take time to reflect deeply on what I was learning. Hence, this PhD was a
seven year journey which could not have been completed without the support of my colleagues
and family.

My research showed the importance of a complex web of context and culture in Indigenous
entrepreneurship. Indigenous identity, values and community; traditional rights and uses as
well as land claim settlements with accompanying rights and responsibilities; encroachments on
traditional land/water use; impacts of climate change; regulatory impacts – all were important.
Both the Inuit and Sami faced barriers to entrepreneurship and had used creativity and
innovation to overcome these. The knowledge gained may be useful in measuring and deriving
value from Indigenous traditional resources. It also suggests policy directions governments can
take to overcome inequalities and strengthen Indigenous entrepreneurship. My findings may
help to enhance the teaching of our future Indigenous entrepreneurs.

Here is the link to my PhD thesis in the University of Canterbury Library Research Repository
Dr. Aldene Meis Mason (2015). Canadian Inuit use of caribou and Swedish Sámi use of reindeer in
entrepreneurship. Accessible at: