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Resources and Sustainable Development in the Arctic

Issue #4
Summer/Fall 2015

WELCOME to the fourth issue of the ReSDA newsletter. Regular newsletters 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 2014 Annual ReSDA workshop in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. This was another successful workshop with discussions focused on community wellbeing and resource developments. We want to thank all of the people who participated and shared their insights and experiences to help in understanding and developing the best mechanisms to build healthy vibrant communities that are impacted by resource developments. Information from the various sectors will help us create greater understandings of the issues and ways that wellbeing can be improved in relation to resource developments. We welcome any feedback or suggestions from our northern partners and communities that might provide additional examples of best practices.

From the presentations given for some of the community projects it was evident that issues of wellbeing are a key priority. Community organizations and governments have implemented programs and practices that are intended to create healthier people and environments and these are good examples to be shared widely. ReSDA has a new project focused on community wellbeing and the impacts of resource development that will involve a team of researchers engaged in case studies across the North. The discussions at each of the workshops contribute to the directions and topics for the next ReSDA workshop. Our next event will focus on the subsistence harvesting practices, land claims and relationships to resource developments and the experiences and changes over the past 40 years since the settlement of the Land Claims in Nunavik and Alaska.

ReSDA recently had their SSHRC midterm review to evaluate our progress in the first half of the program. We have highlighted some of the reviewers’ comments from the document. The reviewers were overwhelmingly positive about the success and direction of ReSDA and we hope to continue this trend throughout the second half of this project.

The next Annual ReSDA Workshop will be held in Kuujjuaq on October 21-23, 2015. The theme is Land Claims, Subsistence Economies and Resource Developments. More information can be found at www.resda.ca/kuujjuaq2015


Director’s Report
SSHRC Midterm Review
Labrador Workshop Highlights
Research Updates
Student Updates
New ReSDA Projects
ReSDA Atlas Update
New ReSDA Publications
Research Plans and Priorities
5th Annual ReSDA Workshop
Meet the NWT Coordinator

Director’s Report

ReSDA researchers and partners have been extremely active over the period since the last newsletter. As required by SSHRC, we had to undergo a mid-term review in the fall of 2014 in order to continue to receive funding. The review was a time-consuming task but it did allow us to look back at what we have been doing and see what changes we could make to improve our work. We were extremely pleased that the reviewers gave us top marks for our work so far. What was most interesting from their observations was how the project has benefitted from good working relationships and a high degree of trust among participating individuals and groups.

Their suggestion for a more systematic approach to knowledge dissemination highlights issues raised in our knowledge sharing workshop in Iqaluit in 2013. On one hand, researchers in the north need to bring their findings back to communities so these communities can use these results. Yet what are the best techniques for doing this? How can we adapt our knowledge transfer to the oral traditions so important in northern communities?

On the other hand, knowledge about resource development impacts needs to flow not only from researchers to communities but also from communities to researchers. Knowledge needs to be not only “transferred” or “disseminated” but also shared. How best can communities share their knowledge with researchers so that their priorities and their perspectives are used to influence research directions? This is especially important for ReSDA as determining the best ways to deal with resource development depends largely on the interests of the people living in the north.

We are in the process of finalizing our “Knowledge Sharing Toolbox”, a selection of knowledge sharing techniques extracted from the findings of our workshop in Iqaluit. We hope this will help community organizations ensure that their perspectives are effectively integrated into research and that researchers pass on information.

Elsewhere in this newsletter you can find information on some of the other recent activities of ReSDA including our workshop in Labrador and on-going research. Based on the suggestions coming from our mid-term review we will be actively looking at ways to ensure the continuation of ReSDA research after 2018. Please don’t hesitate to contact either myself or Val if you have any questions about these activities.

SSHRC Midterm Review

Highlights of Reviewers’ Comments
ReSDA had their SSHRC midterm review in October 2014. A copy of the report submitted to SSHRC is available on the website. The evaluation was based on the quality and progress of the research to date, the degree of collaboration among team members, the effectiveness of project management and the planned dissemination strategies. We received many positive comments and recommendations from the reviewers and would like to share some of these that will help to enhance our future operations.

The reviewers provided many constructive comments about the ReSDA operations and were pleased with the overall progress of the network. They were impressed with the projects management framework and practices and thought that these could potentially provide a useful model for other projects in the North. They felt that ReSDA had a high level of integration and cooperation of the team and contacts between members for subprojects and this is an aspect we hope to build on. They viewed the integration of communities and involvement of our partners as a key strength of this research. They commented on the good outputs including the website, reports, articles, books and student dissertations. Our problem-oriented interdisciplinary approach to research is good process as it can provide benefits to stakeholders. Supportive remarks were made with regard to ReSDA having student researchers as presenters at conferences and in organizing key activities. The ReSDA workshops were considered an important networking mechanism for ReSDA.

Some of the recommendations were that ReSDA work on their dissemination strategy and to ensure reflection on what has been learned from doing work in this type of environment. They suggested that ReSDA consider strategizing expected results in terms of outputs, outcomes and impacts to give a more systematic approach to reporting the results and measuring their significance. In support of this ReSDA is currently updating its knowledge sharing strategy. Reviewers also recognized the challenge of recruiting students from northern communities and hoped to see more consideration given to addressing this. They encouraged us to continue to the work being done as a co-production of effort to increase the potential of the research impact. The committee also suggested that ReSDA consider ways the project could be continued beyond the initial 7 years. These are valuable recommendations and will help to guide future directions of ReSDA.
We welcome input from those who are already involved or those who would like to be involved with ReSDA.  

Labrador Workshop

Highlights of the Fourth Annual ReSDA Workshop Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador, October 2014
The was our first workshop to involve representatives from Industry and this provided an important contribution to the understanding of the issues from their perspectives. It was an excellent opportunity for meaningful discussions of community, government, researchers and industry sectors in addressing considerations for community wellbeing.

Key discussion points included:

  • What is wellbeing and who is discussing it?
  • Research inquiries need to follow local agendas
  • No single definition of wellbeing or most important factor.
  • Trust and communication between industry, government and community is essential to finding the best ways to develop resources.

Recommendations by presenters and participants:

  • Communication among all parties is essential
  • Articulate community needs early in the resource extraction negotiation process
  • Grow local capacity in the north
  • Engage youth, women and communities
  • Research in northern communities needs to combine western science and theories with traditional Indigenous knowledge, and experiential knowledge of local people.

Read the workshop report and view all the power presentations at http://yukonresearch.yukoncollege.yk.ca/resda/knowledge-sharing/workshops/labrador-2014/

Research Updates

Gender Relations and Gender-based Analysis at the Resource Development / Traditional Economy Interface
Theme 1: Sustainable Regions
Emilie Cameron (Carleton University)
Suzanne Mills (McMaster University)
Deborah Simmons (University of Manitoba/Sahtú Renewable Resources Board)
Rauna Kuokkanen (University of Toronto)
Martha Dowsley (Lakehead University)

This project looks at the gendered dimensions of northern political economies. The researchers want to understand how gender shapes decision-making about northern resources. They also want to know the implications of gender in traditional and capitalist economic activities.

First, the researchers scanned and analyzed institutional decision-making structures in three northern regions: Nunatsiavut, Nunavut, and the Sahtu Settlement Area. They wanted to determine if and how decision-making processes formally address gender. Next, they compared environmental assessment processes (one from each region) paying particular attention to women and women’s groups’ interventions. This included a more broad gendered analysis of EA documents and processes. Findings from Phase 1 will be published soon.

For Phase 2 the researchers are conducting focus groups with women in each region. These sessions look at women’s experiences with resource development decision-making, with resource development itself, and its interface with traditional economies. They are also doing key informant interviews in each region. This phase is partially complete.

Phase 3 involves sharing findings with academic and community audiences. This will include an academic publication, developing reports and tools for communities, and facilitating communication between the three study regions.

Their focus for the coming year will be: a) sharing Phase 1 findings with academics and communities (journal article and community reports to come); b) analyzing Phase 2 materials; c) sharing overall project findings (Phase 3).

Augmenting the utility of IBAs for Northern Aboriginal Communities
Theme 1: Sustainable Regions
Ben Bradshaw (University of Guelph )
Jen Jones (University of Guelph)

Ben’s ReSDA-focussed work centres on augmenting the utility of IBAs for northern aboriginal communities. More specifically, the research aims to assist communities that have signed IBAs to:

  1. Assess their performance, including through the use of community relevant wellness indicators.
  2. Realize opportunities for improved adaptive management of unfavourable community impacts.
  3. Optimize the interaction of IBA negotiations/implementation with public regulatory processes like EA.
  4. Mobilize the above-generated knowledge for other interested Aboriginal communities across northern Canada.

PhD student Jen Jones (see page 4) is contributing to this research, in partnership with the Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation, through the development of a community well-being self-monitoring system.

Resource Development and Subsistence Harvesting: Impact Mitigation and Best Practices
Theme 3: Sustainable Cultures
Rebecca Rooke (Lakehead University)
Harvey Lemelin (Lakehead University)

As northern mining industry expands, the impacts to local Aboriginal groups and environment are increasingly significant. This project is interested in the impacts on terrestrial wildlife species and associated traditional harvesting practices of northern Aboriginal communities. They investigated the current mitigation strategies mining companies use to reduce harmful impacts to the environment and improve benefits for northern communities. Interviews were done with several participants, representing a number of integral perspectives, regarding the relationship between mining companies and Aboriginal communities. Interview data analysis revealed that most specific impact mitigation issues can be effectively managed with proper planning, enforcement, and monitoring. Of greatest concern is the nature of the relationship developed between mining companies and local Aboriginal communities. The research suggests that healthy relationships are the result of constant and clear communication, consistent engagement, and a balance between scientific studies and the use of Traditional Knowledge. Strong bonds between mining companies and Aboriginal communities lead to more effective environmental management, impact mitigation, enhanced benefits, and greater sustainability.

Student Updates

Congratulations Jen Jones!
ReSDA funded PhD student Jen Jones has received the prestigious Trudeau Foundation Scholarship

This scholarship recognises fellows for their research, creativity, and social commitment to the Foundation’s four themes (productivity, innovation, communication and engagement). Jen was recognized for her doctoral research, which seeks to conceptualize the impacts of colonialism and assimilation policies on Indigenous health and well-being for use in the routine assessment of mine development. For more information see: http://www.trudeaufoundation.ca/en/community/jennifer-jones

Completed Student Projects
A number of the ReSDA graduate students have completed their thesis in the last year. You can check out their thesis reports on the ReSDA website.

  1. Kent Spiers (Lakehead University) completed his Masters of Sociology thesis “Northern Exposure: A Comparison Study of Alaska and Yukon Models of Measuring Community Wellbeing” in December 2014. He analyzed models of measuring community wellbeing in Alaska and Yukon. Kent is continuing his studies and is now working on a PhD at the University of Calgary.
  2. Kiri Staples (University of Saskatchewan) completed her Masters of Environment and Sustainability. In her thesis, “Gender and decision-making in natural resource co-management in Yukon Territory”, Kiri examined how gender imbalances on co-management boards affect decision-making about resources in the Yukon.
  3. Chris Jones (Lakehead University) completed his Masters thesis titled “Mobile Miners: Long distance commuting among mining workers in Whitehorse” this past year . Chris examined the impact of two weeks in, two weeks out schedules on mine workers in the Whitehorse area.
  4. David Muddiman (Carleton University) has completed his Master of Arts in Public Administration. This Masters program involved writing a series of research papers rather than a single thesis. Details of the papers are available on the ResDA website.

Featured Student Project
Memorial University masters student Jeanette Carney is spending this summer in Nunavik, in the communities of Salluit, Kangiqsujuaq and Akulivik, doing fieldwork for her thesis. Jeanette’s project examines lives of the Inuit in Salluit and Kangiqsujuaq before and after the Asbestos Hill mine. She is interested in the social, cultural, and economic changes they’ve experienced as a result of this first mineral development project on their homeland.

New ReSDA Projects

Understanding Resource Revenue Flows and How to Stop Leakages: A Case Study of the Yukon
Theme 2: Sustainable Communities
Lee Huskey (University of Alaska)
Chris Southcott (Lakehead University)

Northerners want to be sure local resource development benefits them. They want revenue to stay in the region and be invested in a sustainable economic future. The project will first use fiscal indicators to develop a model for seeing where revenue goes, how it leaves the region, and how to make it stay. The project will start with a case study of resource development in the Yukon.

The project methodology will include interviewing key experts in the Yukon, and extensive archival research. The model of the Yukon economy will serve as a comparative tool to see how various regions manage money earned in resource extraction. The researchers will examine fiscal indicators, identify new ones, and create a literature review that will analyze the most effective measures for having resource revenue remain in-territory. They expect to produce a report for Yukon Government, and a book.

Local Benefits of Education, Training and Employment with Resource Industries
Theme 2: Sustainable Communities
Andrew P. Hodgkins (University of Alberta)

This project will examine Vocational Education and Training (VET) programs, which transition aboriginal learners into the industrial workforce.

Two components of the research to be examined include:

  • Learning-to-work transitions of training program participants.
  • The establishing of training programs involving multiple partners

Project stakeholders include community organizations, community colleges, industry, and aboriginal and non-aboriginal levels of government (local, territorial, and federal). This project will provide information to communities so that they may maximize the benefits of negotiating partnerships with industry. Research findings can also be used to find best practices in various circumpolar regions.

New ReSDA Researcher
Anne Dance is a post-doctoral scholar at Memorial University. She is looking at the historic reclamation policy regime for new and abandoned mines in the Canadian north. More details of Anne’s research at: www.resda.ca/environmental-legacies-and-remediation/

Resda Atlas Update

We have recently received CanNor funding for this project so it will be progressing shortly.

The Atlas is an online tool that will make ReSDA research findings and related information easily and quickly available. It will be accessible to the world and will represent the international repository for all ReSDA projects undertaken in the Pan-Northern region. Using a map of the Circumpolar North as its home page (see image above), the map will list the locations of major resource development projects as well as other key ReSDA research related information. To read more, visit the project webpage www.resda.ca/resda-atlas/

We will be hiring several northern graduate students to work on this project over the next few months. If interested please contact Valoree Walker at vwalker@yukoncollege.yk.ca

New Resda Publications

The Northern Review coming out this Summer/Fall 2015 will feature a number of ReSDA projects with articles written by graduate students and their supervisors. These include:

  • Dave Natcher & Kiri Staples: “Gender, Critical Mass, and Natural Resource Co-Management in Yukon”
  • Chris Jones & Chris Southcott: “Mobile Miners: Work, home and hazards in Yukon’s mining industry”
  • Thierry Rodon & Francis Lévesque: “Understanding the Social and Economic Impacts of Mining Development in Inuit Communities: Evidence from Past and Present Mines in Inuit Nunangat”
  • Frances Abele & Sheena Kennedy-Dalseg: “Language, Distance, Democracy: Development Decision-Making and Northern Communications”
  • Cynthia Amati, Brenda Parlee & Naomi Krogman: “Experiences of Opportunity in the Northern Resource Frontier ”
  • Ben Bradshaw & Jen Jones: “Addressing historical legacies through Impact and Benefit Agreements and Health Impact Assessment: Why it matters for Indigenous Well-Being”
  • Anne Dance: “Northern Reclamation in Canada: Contemporary Policy and Practice for New and Legacy Mines”
  • Ritsema, J. Dawson, M. Jorgensen, and B Macdougall: “Steering our own ship: Factors that contribute to locally driven development in Arctic Canada”

The Northern review is a multidisciplinary journal exploring human experience in the Circumpolar North. Published by the School of Liberal Arts, it is the only peer-reviewed journal in Canada devoted exclusively to northern issues and published north of 60.

The ReSDA Gap Analysis Book is expected to be completed in early 2016 Many researchers in our network have contributed to the book.

Research Plans and Priorities

Recent ReSDA research has addressed a number of priority issues and there has been connections between the various topic areas. Some of the remaining priorities to be addressed include:

  1. Social Impacts and Mitigation in Northern Communities – What are the best ways to mitigate the main social impacts of resource development on communities?
  2. Resource Development and Subsistence Activities – What can be done to ensure that resource development does not negatively impact the subsistence economy of northern communities?
  3. 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?
  4. Traditional Knowledge and Resource Development – What are the best examples of the use of traditional knowledge in the planning and monitoring of resource development?

In addition to these remaining areas, ReSDA has been developing the next phase of research for the remaining research funds available. We encourage researchers to contact the ReSDA theme leaders to discuss research ideas that might be supported by the ReSDA network. We are interested in new research looking at issues such as employment of northerners in resource projects, housing impacts, the capacity of northerners to control resource development, and impacts on crime, drug and alcohol abuse. ReSDA is looking to the future and the potential for renewal of the project beyond 2018. We will be holding our 2016 Workshop in Ottawa and will be discussing synthesis of current research, policy implications and future research directions. Stay tuned for upcoming details..

5th Annual ReSDA Workshop

Fifth Annual ReSDA Workshop, Oct. 21-23, 2015 in Kuujuuaq, QC

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 workshop was a 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 theme of the 2014 workshop held in Happy Valley-Goose Bay was well-being of northern communities in relation to resource developments.

The fifth annual workshop will be held in Kuujjuaq, Quebec and focus on issues of subsistence based economies and engagement with extractive industries with a view to understanding the perspectives from community members, researchers, government and industry. This is planned to be a smaller event as space is limited. Please contact the ReSDA coordinator if you are interested in attending. Registration and workshop details can be found on the ReSDA website at http://www.resda.ca/kuujjuaq2015

Meet the NWT Coordinator

Jessica Dutton is the part-time ReSDA Coordinator for the Northwest Territories (NWT) . She works out of the Aurora Research Institute (ARI) in Fort Smith where she is also Community Research and Outreach Coordinator. Jessica is working on her PhD in Health and Behavioural Sciences at the University of Toronto. She has a background in Political Science and International Development and has worked previously on several projects that explored Aboriginal peoples’ health.
NWT Northern Coordinator
Aurora Research Institute, Aurora College
Box 45, Fort Smith, NT X0E 0P0
Tel: 867-872-7084
Fax: 867-872-5024

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 ReSDA’s YouTube Channel
  • 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

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