Paul Wattez


Honorary Postdoctoral Student

Research Summary

Paul’s postdoctoral project consists in the examination of the current conceptualization of the 'well-being' ('miyiyuu pimatisiwin') among the Iyiyiwch (Cree of Quebec) in the context of environmental conservation around different forest realities. For this project, Paul focuses his research on Mishigamish, a land of the Iyiyiwch of Waswanipi where multiple forestry projects take place.

Mishigamish is the place of a life’s project of the hunter responsible for the family territory covering the whole land, defended by the Band Council of the Cree Frist Nation of Waswanipi (CFNW) with the support of Greenpeace Canada (partner of the CFNW since more than ten years). Mishigamish is also the place of a future conservation project linked to the creation of a protected area implemented by the Cree Nation Government (CNG), which supports simultaneously a logging project in agreement with the Government of Quebec and the forestry industry sector. The coexistence of these different forestry projects is a source of tension and conflict between all these actors, as well as of multiple forms of 'well-being' among the Iyiyiwch. Mishigamish thus offers an appropriate context for examining the role of the forest, and of the land more broadly, in the conceptualization of the 'well-being' and the signification of what 'miyiyuu pimatisiwin'is or could be for the Iyiyiwch.

Paul’s postdoctoral research aims to clarify how the field of 'nature conservation' compared to 'culture protection' is defined by the nature-culture opposition, the classic frame of reference for heritage debates in Quebec and Canada, as Paul demonstrated in his PhD thesis. Paul plan to continue to examine the work of reconceptualizing this Western frame of reference in which the Iyiyiwch are engaged so that they can express, affirm, and make sense of their own realities, such as 'well-being' or 'miyiyuu pimatisiwin'.

My postdoctoral project is conducted under the supervision of Dr. Mario Blaser, Professor at the Department of Archeology at Memorial University, and Dr. Karine Vanthuyne, Associate Professor at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Ottawa.