BUILDING INCLUSIVE RESPONSES TO CLIMATE HAZARDS: AN INTERSECTIONAL ANALYSIS OF WILDFIRE IN NORTHERN SASKATCHEWAN
Climate hazards such as wildfires are not just ecological, but also profoundly social. These hazards—and responses to them—are shaped by, and become layered onto, existing political, economic, and social landscapes, resulting in different experiences and vulnerabilities for people from diverse social locations (e.g. gender, race, ethnicity, age, place). Intersectionality has been promoted as a theoretical lens for understanding these differential vulnerabilities, but its empirical application to climate hazards research and practice is limited, particularly in the global North. In response, this research develops and applies a multi-leveled intersectionality theoretical framework to examine how residents in a jurisdictionally complex and socially diverse region of northern Saskatchewan experience and respond to wildfire. Using a qualitative case study design, this study employs media analysis, semi-structured interviews, and photovoice to investigate how residents experienced a major wildfire event and how these experiences interact with and are shaped by social discourses, social structures, and power relations. The results of this research are reported in three core manuscripts, each of which brings a separate level of intersectional analysis to the forefront. The first manuscript demonstrates that mainstream media largely reflected and reinforced a characterization of wildfire response that is highly gendered and exclusionary and discusses the discursive and material implications of such framings. The second manuscript illustrates that impacts to locally significant values are experienced differently across intersections of identity and that these differences are influenced by social structures such as histories of colonization and gendered norms and expectations. The third manuscript highlights how emergency and wildfire management institutions support pathways for adaptation that are characterized by resistance and incremental change, resulting in uneven inclusion of diverse voices, knowledges, and experiences. These manuscripts also reveal how residents and local communities enacted their agency to challenge dominant discourses, respond to locally significant impacts and losses, and advocate for more transformative approaches to wildfire response, recovery, and adaptation. The core contributions of this research are threefold. The study: 1) operationalizes intersectionality to examine how identity attributes operate within social discourse, residents’ experiences, and institutions relevant to a major wildfire event; 2) applies the chosen methods together in a way that enables the multi-level intersectional analysis; and 3) points toward practical strategies for building emergency management and adaptation planning processes that are inclusive and representative of a diverse range of society as communities in northern Saskatchewan continue to live with fire in the future.
Intersectionality, wildfire, climate hazards, Saskatchewan
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
School of Environment and Sustainability
Environment and Sustainability