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Resources and Sustainable Development in the Arctic

Issue #5
Summer/Fall 2016

WELCOME to the fifth 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 provides an update of the recent activities of the network, highlighting some new ReSDA funded projects and students. It includes highlights from the 2015 Annual ReSDA workshop in Kuujjuaq. Although a smaller gathering the discussions around land claims, subsistence harvesting practices and resource developments in the region provided beneficial insights to assist with future research directions of the network.  We want to thank all of the people who participated and shared their insights and experiences to help in understanding how land claim agreements have been ensuring that resource developments occur with comprehensive consultation and involvement of the Inuit people and their government.  Information from the various sectors will help us document best practices and potential policy directions on the issues and ways that subsistence harvesting rights 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.

ReSDA is now in its fifth year of operations and we are starting discussions on the current state of research results, the connections of the projects and policy implications. We will be holding a researcher focused workshop in Ottawa the end of October 2016. Details of the workshop are provided in this newsletter or on the ReSDA website (resda.ca/Ottawa2016).  This will be an opportunity for researchers, partners and policy makers to engage in discussions on the current and future research directions of ReSDA.

We continue to develop effective knowledge sharing strategies including building on the website, Facebook page and we have recently posted a number of videos on the ReSDA You Tube site.  We have also been developing a guidebook to highlight some best practices in the North. ReSDA has created an Atlas of research information that shows past, present and proposed resource development sites across Canada’s northern regions. This is a work in progress and feedback on the tool is appreciated. You can view the functioning prototype on http://lamp.makeit.com/resda/


Director’s Report
ReSDA Atlas
Research Update
Student Projects
Nunavik Workshop Highlights
ReSDA News
New Research
Knowledge Sharing
Sixth Annual ReSDA Workshop

Director’s Report

This past year has been a productive and active time for the ReSDA network with new projects, new collaborations and information sharing activities. ReSDA has been featured prominently at a number of events. This past year provided an opportunity to work with the Arctic FROST network and participate in a series of workshops across the North, including St. Petersburg, Russia; Kuujjuaq, QC and Nome, Alaska.  ReSDA was also a keynote event at the 2016 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences in May. In this panel presentation a number of perspectives were heard on the impacts of resource developments on Indigenous peoples in Canada’s North as well as comparison to regions in West Africa. Some other events that provided opportunities to share ReSDA information included the Land Claims Coalition conference (December 2015), Western Regional Science Association Conference (February 2016), the Nunavut Mining Symposium (April 2016) and to the Arctic Institute of North America Speakers Series (April, 2016).  There have been a number of community presentations facilitated through our partner institutes including a presentation at the Aurora Research Institute, Yukon College as well as in Happy-Valley Goose Bay through the Labrador Institute. We were pleased to have an opportunity to share the network activities with communities in Nunavik through the hosting of our annual workshop in Kuujjuaq.

We have just started ReSDA’s sixth year and while our research and work with communities has produced much knowledge that we are now bringing back and sharing with our community partners, each research project is producing new questions that need answers. Recent discussions with our partners and with researchers show a desire to continue the work of ReSDA past our normal end date of 2017. While SSHRC Partnership grants cannot be renewed, because we are funded under the now ended Major Collaborative Research Initiatives Program, we have been informed by SSHRC that we are eligible to be funded under the Partnership Grants program for a new period of seven years. After discussions with many of our key partners we have decided to start the process to submit a SSHRC Partnership grant proposal next year. We have built a strong network of partner organizations and researchers, a network that has helped a number of new exciting projects funded independently of ReSDA such as the MinErAL project out of Laval University, the Tracking Change project out of the University of Alberta, and several other projects that may be funded this year. We hope to put together a new version of ReSDA that builds on the synergy provided by these projects. In particular, partners have talked about the need to have a project that continues to find ways to maximize benefits from non-renewable extractives but that more directly finds ways to use these benefits to enhance renewable resource development. Over the coming months we will be discussing this idea further with partners and researchers. We welcome input on new research and knowledge sharing project ideas.

ReSDA Atlas

The ReSDA 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.  The hope is that the Atlas will be a “one-stop” place to access to information on how resource development conditions vary across the North.

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 can click on the resource development site symbol they are interested in and will be directed to a summary sheet with a range of relevant information such as various reports, studies and news articles about the project, local communities and environment, along with new ReSDA research findings.

This past spring, students were hired to complete research on the past, current and future resource development projects in the 5 Canadian Northern regions: Nunavik (Quebec), Labrador, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut. This research included information about the development and various negative and/or positive social, economic and environmental impacts of the development in the Arctic. This research has been complied and uploaded to the prototype. This is a work in progress and in the beginning phases of development. Feedback on this tool is appreciated. The functioning prototype can be viewed at: http://lamp.makeit.com/resda/ .

With research on the Canadian regions collected, categorized and uploaded, ReSDA now hopes to expand the scope of the research to other northern regions such as Alaska, Greenland, Iceland, Russia and the Nordic Countries.

More details are available on the ReSDA website at www.resda.ca/resda-atlas/

Research Update

Labour Mobility & Community participation in the Extractive Industries: case studies in the Canadian North – Yukon (LACE)
Theme 2 – Sustainable Communities
Gertrude Saxinger (University of Vienna)
Susanna Gartler (University of Vienna)
Chris Southcott (Lakehead University)
Val Walker (Yukon College)

Extractive industry operations have always been connected to labour mobility. For some decades, long distance commute work (fly-in/fly-out, drive-in/drive-out: FIFO/DIDO) has emerged as a key model of labour force provision for mining activities in remote regions. The LACE project tries to understand how a mobile life impacts individuals, families and communities involved. It also looks at ways of collaboration between First Nation communities and the industry in order to achieve benefits and a sustainable local development in the broader context of employment.

A crucial aim of this three year project (2014-17) is to establish effective partnerships and community collaboration with meaningful involvement in the research and creating materials that can be effectively used by communities to support their needs. This project has mainly engaged the community of Mayo, Yukon and has created several partnerships such as with the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun (FN NND). This work is with chief and council as well as with the heritage and mining/reclamation managers and other stakeholders – such as the Village of Mayo and the J.V Clark School. At the request of the FN NND chief and council and in light of a broader research approach, topics such as Elders´ experience with previously incoming miners and their view about the communities’ future development as well as contemporary cultural revival activities became part of the investigation. The project activities were introduced in the school in Mayo, in order to transfer knowledge to the next generation of potential mining employees and to discuss the youth´s ideas about mining and community development. Currently Susanna is doing participant observation, collecting stories and interviews on the topic of cultural revival activities in regions impacted by cultural changes through mining. Final results including the Mobility Companion Guide will be presented in numerous communities throughout the Yukon in February 2016. The Mobility Companion Guide could be used outside the Yukon as the findings can be applied to a broad range of cases in Canada and elsewhere.

Applied and scientific results include:

“Mobility Companion Guide”- handbook for young mining employees and those interested in the variety of jobs in the sector. It supports coping with mobile shift-work and other effects of being employed in the extractive industry. Forthcoming 2017


Read the full version of this summary at www.resda.ca/labour-mobility

Student Projects

Congratulations to Jeanette Carney!

Memorial University masters student Jeanette Carney spent last summer (2015) in Nunavik, in the communities of Salluit and Kangiqsujuaq 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. She presented an update on her findings at the 2015 ReSDA Annual Workshop held in Kuujjuaq in October.

This ReSDA supported student received a number of scholarships in 2015 including the Royal Canadian Geographical Society graduate research scholarship.  Jeanette also received a Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) graduate scholarship-Master’s program, the Association of Canadian Universities for Northern Studies (ACUNS) Northern Resident Award and the Dr. Alan G. Macpherson Graduate Research Award in Historical and Cultural Geography. These supported her Masters Research work which examined the operational history of the Asbestos Hill mine and looked at how the mine has impacted the Inuit in Nunavik both in the past and present. The research will provide an understanding of how communities may have benefited from the mine and what the impacts were with the closure and remediation of the facility.

Jeanette has been involved in the ReSDA network for a number of years and has contributed to our knowledge and understanding of mining impacts in northern communities.  This includes the work done in developing the “Humans of North” project to start a dialogue on how resource developments are perceived in communities.

Jeanette has completed data analysis and written her final thesis report as part of the requirements for the completion of her Master’s degree. Jeanette has been accepted to the Parliamentary Internship Program for this next year. We wish her all the best in this new endeavor.

Completed Projects

Some of the ReSDA graduate students have completed their thesis in the last year.  You can check out their thesis reports on the ReSDA website.

  • Shea Shirley (University of Saskatchewan) completed her Master’s thesis in June 2016.
    A copy of her thesis “Barriers to Wildlife Harvesting among Aboriginal Communities in Canada and Alaska” is available online at http://bit.ly/2bgaTf8.  The objectives of this research were to quantify the main barriers that affect wildlife harvesting and how these barriers are experienced within regions. The results contribute to a more informed understanding of Aboriginal food security.
  • Rebecca Rooke (Lakehead University) completed her Masters of Environmental Studies in Nature-based Recreation, Parks and Tourism in January 2016. She looked at how mining and Aboriginal communities can improve impact mitigation for terrestrial wildlife and traditional harvesting practices in the Canadian Arctic. A copy of her thesis is available at http://bit.ly/2aLR5l8

Nunavik Workshop Highlights

This workshop was focused 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.

Key discussion points included:

  • Realizing land claim agreements so that communities have the ability to assert control over their land and resources;
  • Diversifying the economy so that the “resource curse” can be avoided and ensuring that resource money stays within the community ;
  • The need for effective institutions, good governance and management of resources within communities;
  • Minimizing the negative effects of resource development through programs that promote and incentivize subsistence harvesting;
  • How do you define sustainability? How does the definition differ within communities?
  • Mitigating the impacts of drugs and alcohol on communities.

Recommendations by presenters and participants:

  • Improving food production and waste management operations at mine sites to increase food security in the North through dual purpose infrastructure;
  • Developing dual infrastructure so that the community can continue to use and benefit from the infrastructure put in place by the mine;
  • Implementing community based monitoring programs to track subsistence harvesting;
  • Finding ways to increase Inuit employment in mines and increasing the number of contracts Aboriginal enterprises receive through Impact Benefit Agreements.

ReSDA News

1) Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences

On May 30, 2016 two members, Chris Southcott and Frances Abele, of the ReSDA network had the opportunity to speak in a panel at the 2016 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, hosted by the University of Calgary.

Chris Southcott (Lakehead University), Frances Abele (Carleton University), Gavin Hilson (University of Surrey) and Natan Obed (Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami) spoke as experts on the panel titled, Resource Development and Northern Communities: New Relationships and New Possibilities. This panel of experts discussed the recent changes in the relationships between northern Canadian communities and extractive industry development to see what lessons, if any, Canada may have for other regions.

2) Visiting Scholar Talks in Political Economy or Work in Northern Resource Development

As part of the Department of Geography & Environmental Studiers Founder Seminar series, Suzanne Mills, Associate Professor of Labour Studies and Geography and Earth Sciences at McMaster University did a presentation November 6, 2015 on Place-based rights and mobile jobs: the new political economy of work in northern resource development.

3) Government of Canada Supports Arctic Innovation

Minister Navdeep Bains announced on April 18, 2016 an investment of $202,258 to support the creation of an online Atlas of Arctic Resource Development, the first of its kind in the Canadian North.

New Research

Creating Sovereign Wealth Funds for Aboriginal and Northern Local Communities 
Theme 2 – Sustainable Communities
Greg Poelzer (University of Saskatchewan

This research project examines the notions of Aboriginal and community-level Sovereign Wealth Funds and the extent to which it can serve as a tool for northern communities to take advantage of the financial benefits received from resource development and manage those benefits to spread wealth over generations to maximize sustainability.

The research methodology will consist of a gap analysis on literature and compiling expert information on Aboriginal Trusts and Aboriginal Sovereign Wealth Funds from interviews conducted on this project

The findings of the proposed research project will have implications on policy that can have transformative impact to create sustainable communities.

Knowledge Sharing

The Northern Review Issue #41 was released in 2015 and features a number of ReSDA projects with articles written by graduate students and their supervisors.  Articles are available at http://journals.sfu.ca/nr/index.php/nr/issue/view/37

ReSDA researchers, Arn Keeling and John Sandlos have a new publication “Mining and Communities in Northern Canada: History, Politics and Memory”. This edited collection is part of the Canadian History and Environment book series published by the University of Calgary Press. It features many contributors from the Memorial University-based Abandoned Mines in Northern Canada project, including a number of graduate student researchers.  This is an open access publication available from the press website where chapters or the book can be downloaded. http://prism.ucalgary.ca/bitstream/1880/51021/1/UofCPress_Mining_2015.pdf

Anne Dance, a postdoctoral fellow at Memorial University has been working with Arn Keeling and John Sandlos on ReSDA projects. Anne recently presented some of this research in the Yukon through the Science Community of Practice sessions of Yukon Government. The presentation entitled “Ordered Reclamation—Redefining Mine Cleanup in Northern Canada” can be viewed online at https://meet64448730.adobeconnect.com/p1vehm7b011/ . Anne has also produced a useful tool that explains how contemporary and older mine reclamation is regulated.  The poster for this with links to the various laws, policies and programs for past and present mines in Northern Canada is on the ReSDA website at www.resda.ca/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2014/07/Policy-Web-2pgs.pdf .  Anne has recently accepted a position as the Director of the Parliamentary Internship Programme. We wish Anne all the best and thank her for her excellent contributions to the ReSDA research network.

Brenda Parlee the ReSDA theme 4 coordinator did a presentation on some of her research. “Avoiding the Resource Curse: Coping with the slippery slopes of a mining boom.”    More details of this presentation are available on the ReSDA website.

Sixth Annual ReSDA Workshop

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 center 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 fourth workshop was held in Happy-Valley Goose-Bay in October 2014 and was focused on the well-being of northern communities in relation to resource developments. The theme of the 2015 workshop held in Kuujjuaq, Quebec was subsistence based economies and engagement with extractive industries with a view to understanding the perspectives from community members, researchers, government and industry.

The sixth annual workshop will be held in Ottawa, Ontario and will highlight the findings in our subprojects, the interconnections of the research and the policy implications of these findings. The information from the subprojects will also show how the research has addressed the central objective of ReSDA – How can Northern communities benefit most directly from resource development?

Please contact the ReSDA coordinator if you are interested in attending. Registration and workshop details can be found on the ReSDA website at www.resda.ca/ottawa2016