Monica E. Mulrennan


Monica Mulrennan

Monica E. Mulrennan (Ph.D. Dublin, 1990)

Associate Professor,

Tel: (514) 848-2424 ext. 2055
Fax: (514) 848-2032



Education / Bio

Dr Monica Mulrennan is Associate Professor in the Department of Geography, Planning and Environment. She was born and raised in Ireland. She attended University College Dublin where she completed her B.A. and Ph.D. degrees before moving to Australia for post-doctoral work at the University of Wollongong and the Australian National University. From there she moved to Canada where she held an NSERC International Post-doctoral Fellowship at McGill University. She joined the Department of Geography, Planning and Environment at Concordia University in 1994, and served as graduate program director for several years before becoming Associate Dean, Graduate Student Affairs, in the School of Graduate Studies from 2005 to 2008.
A physical geographer by training, Dr Mulrennan's research interests focus on indigenous peoples and their use and management of coastal and marine environments. More specifically, she is interested in local ecological knowledge, community-based conservation, protected area development, and human adaptations to environmental change. She has worked closely with Torres Strait Islanders (northern Queensland) since the early 1990s, initially as Coordinator of their Marine Strategy for Torres Strait (MaSTS) and more recently, in collaboration with Colin Scott (Anthropology, McGill University) in the documentation of local knowledge, marine resource use and Islander sea claims. She is a member of the McGill Wemindji Protected Area Project which is a research partnership with the James Bay Cree community of Wemindji (northern Quebec) focused on the establishment of culturally-appropriate protected areas on significant portions of their traditional territory.
Dr Mulrennan is current Chair of the Indigenous Peoples Working Group (IPWG), a speciality group of the Canadian Association of Geographers (

Indigenous Resource Management Research Lab (IRMLAB)

Dr Mulrennan oversees a dynamic lab focussed on themes and topics related to Indigenous Resource Management. Students with research interests in this field, or in community-based conservation more broadly, are invited to apply to work with her through the MSc. Program in Geography, Urban and Environmental Studies.

For more details of the IRMLAB see:

Current/Recent Graduate Student Research Projects

  • Véronique Bussières (PhD, in progress) Reconciling Biological and Cultural Conservation in Indigenous Coastal Settings: Implications for Marine Protected Area Frameworks.
  • Annie Lalancette (PhD, in progress) Integrating Indigenous Perspectives Into Fisheries Management: Challenges and Opportunities in Torres Strait, Australia.
  • Kanwaljeet Dewan (MSc, in progress) Towards an improved understanding of community-level fisheries monitoring: A case study of the Wemindji Community Fisheries Program.
  • Erich Seydewitz (MSc, in progress) An Assessment of Multi-Stakeholder Participation in the Trans Canada Trail: Lessons to inform Sendero de Chile.
  • Genevieve Layton-Cartier, Genevieve (MSc, in progress) Environmental Governance of Marine Protected Area Initiatives in Quebec.
  • Magdalena Garcia (MSc, completed 2012) A Comparative Exploration of Indigenous Protected Area (PA) Governance Arrangements in Chile and Canada.
  • Andra Syvänen (MSc, completed 2011) Wemindji Cree Observation and Interpretations of Climate Change: Documenting Adaptability in the Sub-Arctic.
  • Marivic Pajaro (PhD, completed 2009) Socio-economic Indicators of Marine Protected Area (MPA) Success in the Central Philippines.
  • Jesse S Sayles (MSc, completed 2008) Tapaiitam: Human modifications of the coast as adaptations to environmental change, Wemindji, eastern James Bay.
  • Miriam Atkinson (MPPPA, completed 2007) Caring for the Land: Nemaska Cree strategies of resistance to the EM-1-A and Rupert Diversion Project in eastern James Bay, northern Quebec.


Manuscripts recently submitted

  • Garcia, M. and M.E. Mulrennan Tracking the history of protected areas in Chile: Shifting State rationalities and their implications for indigenous inhabitants. Latin American Geography, submitted March 2012
  • Syvänen, A.L. and M.E. Mulrennan Beneath the Thinning Ice: Some insights on the cultural context of James Bay Cree understandings of climate change. Arctic, submitted May 2012
  • Mulrennan, M.E. and V. Bussières (under review) Social-Ecological Resilience in Indigenous Coastal Edge Contexts. Human Ecology, submitted January 2013

Recent Publications

  1. Mulrennan M.E. (in press) Indigenous Knowledge in Marine and Coastal Policy and Management. Special Issue on Rio+20, Ocean Yearbook, 27: 89-119.
  2. Castleden, H., Mulrennan, M.E. and A. Godlewska (2012) Community-Based Participatory Research involving Indigenous Peoples in Canadian Geography: Progress? An Editorial Introduction. The Canadian Geographer 56(2): 155-59.
  3. Mulrennan, M.E., Mark, R. and C.H. Scott (2012) Revamping Community-Based Conservation through Participatory Research. The Canadian Geographer 56(2): 243-59.
  4. Sayles, J. and Mulrennan, M.E. (2010) Securing a Future: Cree Hunters’ Resistance and Flexibility to Environmental Changes, Wemindji, James Bay. Ecology and Society 15(4): 22. [online] URL:
  5. Scott C.H. and Mulrennan M.E. (2010) Reconfiguring Mare Nullius: Torres Strait Islanders, Indigenous Sea Rights and the Divergence of Domestic and International Norms. In M. Blaser, R. de Costa, D. McGregor and W.D. Coleman (eds) Indigenous Peoples and Autonomy: Insights for a Global Age. Vancouver: UBC Press. Chapter 7, 148-176.
  6. Pajaro, M.G., M.E. Mulrennan, J. Alder and A.C.J. Vincent (2010) Developing MPA Effectiveness Indicators: Comparison Within and Across Stakeholder Groups and Communities. Coastal Management 38(2): 122-143.
  7. Pajaro, M.G., M.E. Mulrennan and A.C.J. Vincent (2010) Toward an Integrated Marine Protected Areas Policy: Connecting the Global to the Local. Environment, Development and Sustainability DOI 10.1007/s10668-010-9233-0
  8. Atkinson, M. and Mulrennan, M.E. (2009) Local Protest and Resistance to the Rupert Diversion Project, Northern Quebec. Arctic 62(4): 468-480.
  9. Mulrennan, M.E. (2008) Reaffirming ‘Community’ in the Context of Community-based Conservation. In D. Brydon and W.D. Coleman (eds) Renegotiating Community: Interdisciplinary Perspectives, Global Contexts. Vancouver: UBC Press. Chapter 4, 66-82.
  10. Mulrennan M.E. (2007) Sustaining a Small-boat Fishery: Recent Developments and Future Prospects for Torres Strait Islanders, Northern Australia. In N. Haggan, B. Neis and I.G. Baird (eds) Fishers’ Knowledge: The Changing Face of Fisheries Science and Management. Chapter 9. Paris: UNESCO, Chapter 9, 183-198.
  11. Mulrennan M.E. and Scott C.H. (2005) Co-Management - An Attainable Partnership? Two Cases from James Bay and Torres Strait. Anthropologica 47(2): 197-213.

Recent Conference Presentations

  1. "Sea Space, Home Place: connections of Indigenous Torres Strait Islander Women to Sea". Annual Meeting of the Canadian Association of Geographers, Wilfrid Laurier University and University of Waterloo, May 28-June 1, 2012.
  2. "Navigating a Sea of Uncertainty: Obstacles and Opportunities for Partnering with Aboriginal Peoples in the Protection of Canada's Oceans." Annual Meeting of the Canadian Association of Geographers, Wilfrid Laurier University and University of Waterloo, May 28-June 1, 2012.
  3. "Coastal Marine Protected Areas beyond edges" (with Bussières). Annual Meeting of the Canadian Association of Geographers, Wilfrid Laurier University and University of Waterloo, May 28-June 1, 2012.
  4. "Aa-wiichaautuwiihkw (travelling together): Wemindji Protected Areas Project" (with V. Bussières, M. Humphries, K. Scott and D. Stewart). Indigenous Knowledge Exchange, International Polar Year Conference, April 23-27, 2012.
  5. "Marine Conservation through Indigenous Agreements: the James Bay Cree". International Marine Conservation Conference II. Victoria, May 14-18, 2011.
  6. "Partnerships in Protected Area Planning: The Wemindji Protected Areas Project" (Mulrennan and K. Scott). Annual Meeting of the Canadian Association of Geographers, University of Regina, June 2010.
  7. “Progress Towards the Establishment of the Tawich (Marine) Conservation Area”, Annual Meeting of the Ocean Management Research Network, Ottawa, October 2009.
  8. “Protected Area Development: Opportunities and Constraints from the Perspective of a Northern Aboriginal Community”. Annual Meeting of the Canadian Association of Geographers, Carlton University, Ottawa, May 2009.
  9. “Marine Protected Area Development and a Northern Aboriginal Community”. Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers, Las Vegas, March 2009.

Present Research Projects

  1. The establishment of culturally appropriate locally managed protected areas on the traditional land and sea territory of the Wemindji Cree, James Bay, Northern Quebec.
  2. Aboriginal rights and interests in marine and coastal conservation in Canada and Australia.
  3. Indigenous sea rights and community-based fisheries development in Torres Strait, Northern Australia
  4. Indigenous women and their use, knowledge and attachments to sea space.

Attention Media: Will speak on environmental issues related to indigenous peoples

Recent Interview

Les entretiens Concordia - Protéger le territoire ... et les communautés (31 December 2012)

Concordia University