Caoimhe Isha Beaulé & Pierre De Coninck
When Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples come together in a project to address issues relating to Arctic communities, how do fruitful collaborations come to be? Among the elements that constitute the approach for genuine cooperation and creativity in complex projects, trust is an indispensable ingredient. From a systemic and complexity paradigm and design lens, this article explores the “dynamic” of trust in collaborative projects involving Indigenous Knowledge and Peoples in the Arctic. How does the dynamic of trust within a collaborative project operate, evolve, and re-organise in action and how can we conceptualise it? What factors influence cooperation and trust in Arctic collaborative projects? Guided by action research and project-grounded strategies in design, the research draws from the two-year Dialogues and Encounters in the Arctic (DEA) project that took place in the Indigenous Sámi context. Multiple qualitative tools were employed, including seven semi-directed interviews, two reflective journals, one workshop, and one post-project online group discussion. The research involved twelve DEA collaborators (both Indigenous Sámi and non-Indigenous). Our findings present results from a preliminary analysis, shedding light on the dynamic nature of trust in the DEA project through the example of in-person project encounters and ethical framework development, reflecting how trust weaves itself into a project's very fabric. We found that, amidst the complexities and various influences on trust dynamics (e.g., socio-political contexts, a global pandemic, or individual personalities), fostering consistent interaction between project collaborators emerges as an effective strategy to nurture a dynamic of trust. And ‘organising’ design approach is seen as being favourable to such processes.