Gender relations

Gender relations and gender-based analysis at the resource development / traditional economy interface

September 2013 to December 2017



As part of the ReSDA workshop held in Ottawa on October 26-28, 2016, Dr. Suzanne Mills provided an update of the research. You can view the powerpoint presentation or read the abstract provided that summarizes the current status of the project.

Due to unforeseen circumstances, the project has been extended by one year to August 2016. Focus groups have been held with women in Tulít’a, NT (June 2014) and Kugluktuk, NU (April 2014). There is a journal article in preparation regarding women’s participation in EIA processes across the three regions.


A draft research report from the Nunatsiavut focus groups in the summer 2015, “Women’s Perspectives on Voisey’s Bay and the Future of Economic Development in Nunatsiavut”, is available here.
Nunatsiavut Focus Groups photo


As part of the ReSDA workshop held in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador on October 2-4, 2014, Dr. Suzanne Mills provided an update of the research. You can view the powerpoint presentation here.

Project Proposal Details

Project Leader: Emilie Cameron, Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at Carleton University

Research Team:
Suzanne Mills, Labour studies at McMaster University
Deborah Simmons, Sahtu Renewable Resources Board
Martha Dowsley, Geography and Anthropology at Lakehead University
Rauna Kuokkanen, Political Science and Aboriginal Studies at University of Toronto

Graduate research assistants:
Sheena Kennedy Dalseg, PhD Student, Carleton University
Dana Holtby, Masters Student, Carleton University
Russel Claussen, McMaster University)

Community-based research assistants in NWT and Nunatsiavut

Community Partners:
Sahtu Renewable Resources Board – Sahtu region
The Department of Lands and Resources, and Education and Economic Development – Nunatsiavut

iqaluit Oct 10 2013 web


Gender relations are embedded in the political economy of regions. Since resource development alters the economic organization of northern communities, and particularly the balance between traditional and capitalist economic activities, it has gendered implications. In this proposal, we seek to better understand how the shifting political economies of northern regions are gendered.

In this research project, we ask: a) How are the institutional practices and policies guiding decision making, implementation, and monitoring of northern resource extraction gendered? b) How do changing employment patterns influence gender relations, particularly as understood by northern Indigenous women? and; c) What materials, policies, and tools are needed to address the gendered dimensions of resource extraction in different northern regions?


The purpose of this project is to:

  1. determine how existing institutions and policies with involvement in northern resource extraction are gendered;
  2. understand how changing employment patterns influence gender relations, particularly as understood by northern Indigenous women;
  3. help develop relevant gender-based analysis materials and tools for use in northern communities.

The project responds to a need identified by scholars, policy-makers, and community organizations to better understand the gendered dimensions of northern resource extraction, and to provide meaningful, practical tools to address gender in decision-making, implementation, and monitoring.

A gendered analysis of decision-­‐making around resource development and the traditional economy in three jurisdictions of Indigenous governance:

  • Nunatsiavut region in Labrador
  • Nunavut
  • Sahtú Settlement Area in the Northwest Territories.

Although all three are land claim settlement areas, and all three are governed to some extent by land claim institutions, each region has distinct histories of colonial intervention, resource development, and interface with provincial, territorial, and federal institutions. Each is also facing significant resource development pressure, and each has identified gender as a poorly understood and poorly addressed dimension of resource governance (i.e., Pauktuutit 2011). The investigators have existing relationships with communities and institutions in each of the regions.

In each of three northern-Canadian regions, this work will begin by mapping institutions that are involved in decision-making, monitoring and implementation of resource development. Next, we will undertake an analysis of the relevant institutions, policies and practices in each region to determine how each is gendered, by way of targeted expert interviews, policy analysis, and review of primary and secondary literatures. The results of the initial analysis will then be presented to one focus group of women in a community in each of the three regions. The focus groups will discuss how women of different age groups from each community understand gender and gender-based analysis in relation to their experiences with traditional economies and resource development, and will identify future research and policy goals. Results will be disseminated by academic and non-academic publication, by inter-regional discussion, and will also inform the development of materials specific to each region.

Timeline: September 2013 to August 2015

This project will be done in phases.

In the first phase (September 2013 to May 2014), we will map and characterize the decision-­‐making policies and practices within each of the relevant institutions (see Appendix
1) as they relate to gender. This will be carried out through a) policy analysis (including review of policy frameworks, policy statements, and other related documents); b) key informant interviews (aimed at understanding both formal and informal policies and practices, the application of policy, concerns, aspirations, etc); and c) review of relevant secondary literature (including existing academic research and grey literature examining the gendered dimensions of resource governance, the traditional economy, northern institutions, and northern histories).

In the second phase (May 2014 to July 2014), a short document will be prepared mapping relevant institutions and policies, and comparing policy frameworks and gender implications in each of the three jurisdictions. This document will be used in the focus groups and incorporated into the ReSDA Atlas of Resource Development. The document will outline existing knowledge about the gendered dimensions of resource development and the traditional economy, and provide an overview and critical analysis of the ways in which gender is addressed (and not) in each jurisdiction and institution.

In the third phase (July 2014 to January 2015), focus groups will be held in each of the three regions, where our preliminary analysis of the gendered dimensions of decision-­‐making around resource development and the traditional economy will be presented, and participants will be invited to critique, build on the analysis, share their experiences, and work toward identifying knowledge gaps in research on gender and environmental decision-­‐making. The focus groups will incorporate women from multiple generations, so as to address the different experiences of women at different life stages, but also the very rapid changes that have unfolded in each region over the last decades. The focus groups will also incorporate women with varying experiences and relationships to resource development and the traditional economy.

In the fourth phase (February 2015 to August 2015), results will be prepared for both academic and non-­academic audiences.

For more information contact:

Emilie Cameron
Geography and Environmental Studies
Carleton University

Frances Abele
Professor at Carleton University
5209 River Building
School of Public Policy & Administration
Carleton University
1125 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa, Ontario K1S 5B6
613-520-2600 (ext. 2553)