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Denny’s research aims to use both Western and Indigenous knowledge to improve the sustainability of our oceans. She is particularly interested in the American eel and Atlantic salmon, which have important cultural significance in Mi’kmaq culture.
Shelley Denny grew up in Potlotek, a Mi’kmaq community on Bras D’Or Lake in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. She completed an interdisciplinary PhD at Dalhousie University which promotes two-eyed seeing (Etuaptmumk) – a philosophy that encourages people to combine Indigenous and local knowledge, acquired by a long history of living in an environment, with traditional Western science.
Her research focuses on the Atlantic salmon and the American eel, two species who are threatened, and are also very important to traditional Mi’kmaq culture. She also advocates for traditional fishing rights, notably for Mi’kmaq lobster fishers, to earn a living through sustainable harvesting. To that end, she is contributing to research that explores the similarities and differences between Indigenous knowledge systems in different areas of Canadian fisheries, and how that knowledge can be integrated to improve the sustainability of Canadian fisheries.