Nawash – University of Guelph Faculty Partnership

The Department of Integrative Biology at the University of Guelph welcomed Dr. Stephen S. Crawford as a contractually limited Assistant Professor as of September 1, 2004 for an initial term of 5 years. The appointment is the result of an innovative partnership agreement between the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation and the University of Guelph to meet particular needs for research and teaching by both parties, and is jointly funded. Dr. Crawford’s responsibilities will be to undergraduate and graduate teaching and research in the areas of Great Lakes fisheries ecology, adaptive resource management and relationships between Aboriginal traditional knowledge and Western science. It further enhances the unique role of the Axelrod Institute of Ichthyology as a centre for Great Lakes fisheries ecology and management. A similar innovative partnership agreement with the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission resulted in the appointments of two new faculty to CBS two years ago.

Dr. Crawford has been the Fisheries Management Biologist for the Chippewas of Nawash, whose traditional fishing territory includes the waters around the Bruce Peninsula of Lake Huron, for over 10 years. He will retain that role in his new position. Over that period, however, the University benefited periodically from his wide experience and his excellent reputation as an undergraduate instructor. Between 1993 and 2003, as a sessional lecturer, he developed web-based instructional materials for distance education and lectured in six different courses over 14 semesters, particularly in the areas of ecology and resources management, and received excellent evaluations. At the same time, the Chippewas of Nawash and the University of Guelph collaborated on several research projects, resulting in post-graduate degrees and publications, much of it facilitated by Dr. Crawford. In his full-time position as a management biologist, he also conducted fisheries ecology research related to the management of the Nawash commercial fishery through the Axelrod Institute of Ichthyology.

By 2001, the Chippewas of Nawash perceived a growing need for greater emphasis on research required to manage a state-of-the-art fishery, and proposed the idea of a formal partnership to the University of Guelph, which was endorsed by the CBS Dean’s Council and the Offices of the VP Academic and VP Research. The partnership allows Dr. Crawford to directly supervise, and to access new sources of support for graduate students. In turn, students will benefit from the close working experience, related infrastructure and research opportunities associated with the largest First Nations fishery deployed on the Great Lakes. Moreover, during the present period of transition in CBS, the agreement also provides stability for planning longer-term teaching assignments, particularly for introductory undergraduate courses.


Dr. Crawford’s research program is comprised of three project areas established by the Nawash-UofG Assistant Professorship in Fisheries Ecology and Management. As outlined in the Faculty Partnership, the long-term goals of this collaborative research program are as follows:

1. To investigate key ecological uncertainties related to dynamics of harvested fish populations in the Great Lakes;
2. To develop and evaluate Adaptive Resource Management as a basis for Great Lakes fisheries management; and
3. To improve relationships between Traditional Aboriginal Knowledge and Western Science, especially with reference Great Lakes ecology.

These goals have been designed to ensure that the First Nations fisheries on the Great Lakes benefit from an effective mix of scientific rigour, participatory decision-making, and cross-cultural communication of ecological knowledge. With these research tools available to them, First Nations such as Nawash can ensure that they are protecting their fisheries and associated Aboriginal and Treaty Rights for future generations.