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Resources and Sustainable Development in the Arctic

Issue #3 SUMMER/FALL 2014
WELCOME to the third issue of the ReSDA newsletter. Regular newsletters will provide program details as well as current information on the research and activities of this network. We can provide an electronic version and/or print version, both of which will also be available on our website at www.resda.ca.   To contribute or subscribe to this newsletter email vwalker@yukoncollege.yk.ca.  This issue provides an update of the recent activities of the network, highlighting some new ReSDA funded projects and students. It includes highlights from the 2013 Annual ReSDA workshop in Iqaluit. This was a successful event despite a blizzard and community closures. We want to thank all of the people who participated in this workshop as all of your suggestions are helping to create effective knowledge sharing practices for researchers and communities. As a research network we want to continue to communicate effectively with our northern partners and with communities so we welcome your feedback and suggestions at any time. It is recognized that communication starts at the idea stage of any research project and builds and grows from this point forward.   Meaningful research collaborations start by having clear knowledge sharing practices.Many of the suggestions from the workshop in Iqaluit will be incorporated into the work of the network. A number of projects has been initiated to enhance the knowledge sharing. This includes a ReSDA Atlas of research information as well as an improved web presence using Facebook and other online tools. One of the main recommendations was to have better and more fluid communication between communities and researchers, whereby communities could provide information and opinions on resource development and the impacts on their communities.   To start to gather general insights and opinions on resource development, ReSDA has begun a photo-journalism project called “Humans of the North: Northern Resource Development”. This project was created to increase communication between communities and researchers and to start a discussion around the impacts of resource development through brief interviews that are posted on Facebook. More information on this project at https://www.facebook.com/humansofnorth.  Similarly, ReSDA has set up a toolkit for researchers and community members on its website. This toolkit provides community participation and input projects that researchers and organizations may use to gather community feedback. What’s more, it has a forum page to allow online discussion on any subjects of interest. See http://yukonresearch.yukoncollege.yk.ca/resda/outreach/toolkit.  The next Annual ReSDA workshop will be held in Happy Valley Goose Bay, NL on October 2-4, 2014. The theme of the workshop is Community well-being and resource development. More details at http://yukonresearch.yukoncollege.yk.ca/resda/workshops/labrador-2014/.


Director’s report

This past year has been an extremely busy one for the ReSDA research network. We have moved forward in our objective to bringing about a better understanding of what is needed to ensure Arctic communities get more benefits from resource development and that negative impacts are adequately dealt with. Much of the existing research that we and others have done until now show that this is not an easy task. Resource development continues to cause problems for northern communities and benefits often are overshadowed by these problems. At the same time, ReSDA researchers have started to uncover new options that communities may be able to use to increase these benefits. Our task for the next four years is to work with our community partners, continue to gather research on these options, and share this research with communities so they can make more informed decisions on whether they want resource development in their region or not.

Knowledge sharing as a focus

The question of involving community partners in research and sharing knowledge is one that is central to ReSDA’s objectives. This is not easy in a project that extends across the circumpolar north. The region is made up of many communities and it is often extremely difficult to keep in touch with all of them. Given our limited resources we have tried to emphasize the Canadian North in the first part of our research but even this is not an easy task. This is one of the reasons we decided to organize our third annual workshop around the idea of knowledge sharing. The event was extremely successful (despite the Iqaluit airport being closed the first day of the workshop due to weather) and we were able to hear thoughts on knowledge sharing from people such as former chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council, Patricia Cochran, Inuit film maker Zacharias Kunuk, and researcher Frank Tester of UBC. We are currently in the process of using the workshop to help us develop a “tool box” for both communities and researchers on the best ways to share knowledge on resource development in the Arctic.

Research moves ahead….

Read More..

ReSDA  Students

Theme 1 – Sustainable Regions
Alaska and Yukon Models of Measuring Community Wellbeing

Kent Spiers, Department of Sociology, Lakehead University
Kent moved from Alaska to complete his Master’s degree in Sociology at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario. His project measures community wellbeing through a content analysis of wellbeing models and interviews with people familiar with these models. The content analysis framework will be used to analyze 20 models of community wellbeing, 10 in Alaska and 10 in the Yukon. Through this analysis and interviews with people familiar with these models, this work will provide a greater understanding of how communities have defined wellbeing and illustrate the differences and similarities across the models.  Furthermore, this project is a starting point for further research on wellbeing in the Arctic. More details of this project are available at http://bit.ly/1kx7jax

Kent will be continuing his research interests by pursuing his PhD at the University of Calgary and looking at understanding various arctic community monitoring projects across the circumpolar north.

Theme 3 – Sustainable Cultures
Measuring the land based economy of Inuit communities in Nunavik

Shea Shirley, University of Saskatchewan
Shea is currently a Master’s Candidate in the School of Environment and Sustainability, at the University of Saskatchewan. Her research, under the supervision of Dr. David Natcher, will examine the barriers that affect wildlife harvesting among Aboriginal peoples in Alaska (Gwich’in), Alberta (Cree), Nunavik (Inuit), and Nunatsiavut (Inuit). Her research is premised on the belief that food security is experienced unevenly among individuals, households, and communities, and is socially and economically differentiated. The objectives of her research are:

    1. To quantify, through an analysis of 2,466 household surveys, theprincipal barriers that affect wildlife harvesting.
    2. To examine how these barriers are articulated at various scales of experience, including:
      • Regionally, by community, and degree of remoteness (i.e., road accessible).
      • Form of land tenure, for instance historical treaty or land claims.
      • Within households as reflected in age, social structure, and gender.

      The results of this research will lend to a more informed understanding of Aboriginal food security in the Arctic and Sub-Arctic Regions of North America.

Theme 4 – Sustainable Environments
Traditional Knowledge on the Impacts of Diamond Mining on Caribou and Communities in the Western Arctic

Kelsey Dokis-Jansen, University of Alberta (MSc Candidate in Community Risk and  Resilience)
Kelsey is Anishinaabe from the Dokis First Nation in north-central Ontario and is working to complete her MSc. in Risk and Community Resilience at the University of Alberta in the Department of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology. Using both ethnographic and dendrochronology (tree-ring analysis) methods, she worked together with Denésƍliné elders, caribou harvesters, youth and graduate students / faculty from the University of Alberta to track the effects of diamond mining activity on barren-ground caribou movements over a 3-year period.   She conducted interviews around changes to caribou movement patterns over the last century and will be augmenting the interview outcomes with a tree-ring analysis of black spruce root samples that were taken from caribou trails at key crossing sites in the Lutsel K’e Dene Traditional Territory. Outcomes include a conceptual framework for using western methodologies within an indigenous methodological framework and a set of best practices for conducting northern scientific research within an indigenous context. Applied results will include a historical portrait of caribou use of the Artillery Lake area over the last 100 years.

New ReSDA research

There are a number of new ReSDA research projects that have started for each of the Theme areas and addressing a number of the priority areas that were identified through the ReSDA gap analysis research. The new projects are listed here and more details are available on the ReSDA website.

    1. Gender relations and gender-based analysis at the resource development / traditional economy interface
      Emilie Cameron, Carleton University; Suzanne Mills, McMaster University and Martha Dowsley, Lakehead University
      This research project looks at how institutions and policies in the resource development industry are gendered and how changes in this sector influences gender relations in Nunatsiavut, Nunavut and the Sahtu Settlement Area in the Northwest Territories. The goal of this project is to help develop relevant gender-based analysis materials and tools for use in northern communities.                                                                           
    1. Finding What Works: Mining in Inuit Nunangat
      Frances Abele, Carleton University
      This project focuses on the experience of Inuit organizations and communities in Inuit Nunangat. More specifically, it aims to understand how Inuit-industry-government partnerships have helped mining projects achieve positive results for Inuit employees and communities.
    1. Resource Royalties Distribution & Community Development
      Thierry Rodon, Université Laval
      The negotiation of IBAs between resource development companies and Aboriginal communities often include provisions for the payments of royalties and/or profit shares. These payments are generally meant to be distributed back to communities. However, there are no uniform ways to distribute them.The research focus will be on identifying and analyzing the characteristics of the distribution of royalties and profit shares to identify the most sustainable practices and those that allow communities to benefit economically and socially from the royalties.   This research will help communities as not much is known about the modes of distribution used to share these payments and their impacts on local communities.   
    1. Labour Mobility and community participation in the extractive industries: case studies in the Canadian north (LACE)
      Gertrude Eilmsteiner Saxinger and Susanne Gartler, University of Vienna
      This project examines the long distance commute work that has emerged as a key model of labour force provision for mining activities in remote regions. Most extractive industry operations require a highly mobile workforce and this has impacts on people and communities in the North. Dr. Eilmsteiner Saxinger and Susanna Gartler (PhD student) will be conducting research in Pelly Crossing, Mayo and Whitehorse, Yukon. This work will be done from the summer of 2014 to 2017 and will examine the impacts of a highly mobile workforce associated with the mining industry. This will involve semi-structured interviews and long-term stays in the both communities for anthropological field research in the proposed communities. Furthermore, intense collaboration with the communities is achieved through involvement of a community researcher as well as young people who are interview partners and take part in multi-media activities. Gertrude’s findings from this research in the Yukon will be compared with her work in communities in northern Russia, Siberia and Australia.
      1. Augmenting the utility of IBAs for Northern Aboriginal Communities
        Ben Bradshaw, University of Guelph
        There is a growing sense among analysts and communities that Impact Benefit Agreements (IBAs) are failing to meet expectations. Given these growing concerns, applied research is needed to augment the utility of IBAs. This research aims to assist communities that have signed IBAs to:
        – assess their performance using a mix of assessment tools;
        – identify and realize opportunities for improved adaptive management to better manage observed social impacts;
        – reflect upon and seek to optimize the interaction of IBA negotiations/implementation with public regulatory processes like EA and the execution of the Crowns consultation obligations; and
        –  mobilize co-generated knowledge from the above activities for these communities’ leaders and members, for other interested Aboriginal communities across northern Canada, and for the wider scholarly world.
      2. Well-Being and the Impacts of Resource Development
        Brenda Parlee, University of Alberta
        This project will involve a network of researchers working on questions of resource development and its effects on northern community well-being, especially of vulnerable social groups in remote regions and in major centres. It will bring together researchers from a range of disciplines and organizations representing communities, government, the private sector, and non-profit organizations in Nunatsiavut, Labrador, Nunavik, Nunavut, Northwest Territories, Yukon, Alaska and the circumpolar north to conduct and mobilize knowledge on four critical themes of well-being:

                • what are the most critical concepts and determinants of community well-being in use in regions affected by resource development; what changes in well-being have been predicted / documented;
                • what factors (social characteristics, organizations, policies, programs) are protective of communities;
                • how are these changes in well-being tracked and articulated by communities, governments, industry and NGOs;
                • what are best practices for addressing these changes in well-being.

        2013 Workshop highlights

        Highlights from the Third Annual ReSDA workshop held in Iqaluit, NU October 2013

        Some tools for knowledge sharing were discussed at the workshop including:

                        • Video and Films
                        • Community Engagement
                        • Print media
                        • Internet / multi-media

        A number of recommendations came from the participants and presenters at the workshop with some repeated comments including:

                        • Partnerships and collaborations are key
                        • Co-driven projects—should be started with communities at the idea stage
                        • Must recognize and respect different knowledge systems
                        • Various media including print can be used but face– to-face is one of the best methods.
                        • Understanding your audience and ensuring that you know the best ways to share information.

        You can read the full workshop report on the ReSDA website at http://bit.ly/1wEtyRc

        New ReSDA project – Humans of the North & Resource Development

        “Humans of the North” is a pilot photo-journalism project that ReSDA began in late May 2014. As of now, the project is only taking place in Whitehorse, Yukon.   However, it’s ultimate goal is to be a project that spans the entire circumpolar north, with volunteer photographers in as many northern communities as possible.

        The project involves volunteer photographers conducting brief interviews and photographing people at random.   Photographed individuals are asked about the impacts of resource development on northern communities and what can be done to increase benefits to communities. All the photos and short quotes are uploaded to the “Humans of the North” Facebook Page.

        The goal of this project is to garner community perspectives and input on resource development in the north and to promote discussion on the topic.

        For more information see: https://www.facebook.com/humansofnorth

        Research Plans and priorities

        The ReSDA Steering Committee established a set of research priorities with 14 topic areas for the ReSDA network based on the results of the gap analysis and discussion of these at the workshop held in Whitehorse. The priorities involve:

                        1. A ReSDA Atlas of Arctic Resource Development to build and establish a virtual one-stop site to access information on resource development conditions, impacts and benefits across the North.
                        2. A series of analytical surveys focused on key areas
                        • Historical comparisons of research developments in the Circumpolar North
                        • Conditions around resource developments,
                        • Resource development impacts
                        • Resource development benefits (revenue distributions, employment benefits, education, training, cultural vitality and infrastructure support)
                        • Baseline data to measure impacts and change

        There are 14 specific projects identified and number of these are currently underway.

                        1. Resource Development Impacts Indicators How can we develop better, community controlled, indicators of change linked to resource development?
                        2. Measuring the fiscal linkages How can we maximize the amount of money that stays in a region?
                        3. Distribution of financial benefits within communities? What are the various ways that funding is distributed within communities and what are the impacts of these?
                        4. Social Impacts and Mitigation in Northern Communities What are the best ways to mitigate the main social impacts of resource development on communities?
                        5. Long Distance Commuting and Arctic Communities What are the best options for Arctic communities in dealing with long distance commuting?
                        6. Impact Benefit Agreements and Beyond What are the best ways to deal with negative impacts arising from current Impact Benefit Agreements?
                        7. Resource Development and Subsistence Activities What can be done to ensure that resource development does not negatively impact the subsistence economy of northern communities?
                        8. Social and Economic Impact Assessment (SEIA) What are the different forms of socio-economic impact assessment used in the north and what forms are communities most comfortable with?
                        9. Educational and Training Benefits What are the best examples of employment, training, and education programs associated with resource development in the north?
                        10. Community Well-being and Resource Development What are the best measures of well-being for northern communities and what how are these impacted by resource development?
                        11. Traditional Knowledge and Resource Development What are the best examples of the use of traditional knowledge in the planning and monitoring of resource development?
                        12. Best practices in Industry/Government/Community relationships What are the best practices in developing relationships and how do these relationships influence success?
                        13. Gender and Resource Development in the North
                        14. Environmental Impacts of Resource Development How have environmental changes impacted Arctic Communities?

        ReSDA Atlas

        The ReSDA Atlas is a project that came to be after a ReSDA workshop. The web-based atlas is an online resource tool that aims to make ReSDA research findings and related information available in a quick and easily accessible manner. Using a map of the Circumpolar North as its home page, the locations of major resource development projects will be listed on the map. Viewers would then be able to click on the site they are interested in and a range of relevant information about the project and the local communities and environment, along with new ReSDA research findings, will appear as a clickable list. A printed atlas will also be created for distribution.

        The Atlas will provide partners in northern communities, various levels of government, and industry, with quick access to important information relating to resource development in the north. As of now, the cartographic work has taken place and a prototype created.   Dr. Finnegan did a presentation on the Atlas development at ICASS VIII on behalf of the team working on this at SDC Software in cooperation with ReSDA members.

        Next, a series of analytical surveys will be undertaken to provide core data/information that is not already provided by existing ReSDA research.  More details are available on the ReSDA website

        Upcoming Events

        Fourth Annual ReSDA Workshop, October 2-4, 2014

        Each year ReSDA organizes an annual research workshop that is based on a central theme. With a rotating location, they are planned to be held in a different northern centre each year. The first of these was held in November 2011 in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories and was devoted to the discussion of a research plan for the next seven years; the second was held in Whitehorse in November 2012 and focused on the gap analyses research. The third was held in Iqaluit, Nunavut and revolved around knowledge sharing and effective communication with northern communities.

        The fourth annual workshop will be held October 2-4 in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador and will focus on the well-being of northern communities in relation to resource developments. Registration for the event can be found on the ReSDA website. We hope to see you there!

        More Details

        Meet the Labrador Coordinator, Morgon Mills

        Morgon is a Program Coordinator at the Labrador Institute of Memorial University.  He completed his MA in English at the University of Toronto in 2007, just months before moving north to Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador.  Since then he has filled a wide variety of supporting roles in Labrador Institute educational and research programs: everything from teaching to running community engagement events to reviewing research grant applications.  He currently oversees the Labrador Institute library and archive, among other responsibilities, and completed Memorial’s certificate program in library studies in 2012.  Morgon began work as ReSDA’s Northern Coordinator for Labrador in May 2014. Contact Morgon at:

        Northern ReSDA Coordinator (Labrador)
        Labrador Institute, MUN
        Happy Valley-Goose Bay, NL,  A0P 1E0
        T 709 896 6394 | F 709 896 2970
        Email: Morgon.mills@mun.ca

        Additional Information

        ReSDA will stress the transfer of knowledge gained from its activities to users. It will put in place an outreach strategy that concentrates on the dissemination of information to northern communities, but will also place Canadian researchers in a position to collaborate with others at the forefront of international research on resource development impacts. The plan will be organized around three main audiences: northern communities, policy makers and industry, and the research community, each with several components.

        More Details

        How to stay connected with ReSDA:

                        • Follow us on Twitter @ReSDANetwork
                        • “Like” us on Facebook
                        • Subscribe to this newsletter
                        • Email the ReSDA Coordination office at the Yukon Research Centre (vwalker@yukoncollege.yk.ca) or contact one of the regional offices

        For more information about ReSDA at www.resda.ca

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