Well-Being and Resource Development

Well-Being and the Impacts of Resource Development

Project Leader: Brenda Parlee, University of Alberta (brenda.parlee@ualberta.ca)???????????????????????????????

Co-Investigators (locations for research activities):

Deborah Simmons (Sahtu Region, Northwest Territories)
Mark Nuttal

Community partners/collaborators:
Community of Lutsel K’e, NT
Sahtu Renewable Resource Board and Youth group
Community of Gameti, NT
Community of Behchoko, NT

Other team members:
Master’s or undergraduate level students for a total of one term each: TBD

July 2014 to June 2015

Update 2017:

A portion of the project that focused on the Sahtu region, Future Chief: Building Indigenous Youth Environmental Leadership in Changing Times, was concluded. An interim report on the project was submitted, a final report will be submitted by September 2017, and a journal article on this portion is being worked on.

Update: 2016  

Jeanette Lockhart and Laura Jane Michel from Lutsel K’e gave a presentation at the 6th Annual ReSDA Workshop. A summary of their research can be accessed here, and their presentation can be accessed here.


The concept of community well-bei???????????????????????????????ng is important to many cultures across the circumpolar north including that of Indigenous peoples. Understanding how resource development contributes to or adversely affects community well-being is increasingly begin required by governments (e.g. well-being was a focus in the environmental assessment of the Mackenzie Gas Project). Our research seeks to learn more about how community well-being is defined and experienced in different resource development contexts in northern Canada, Greenland, northern Europe and northern Russia. How is it defined? How is it used in assessing and tracking the effects of development? How can its usefulness be improved?

The research proposal seeks to establish a network of researchers working on questions of natural resource development and its effects on northern community well-being. We are particularly interested in well-being of vulnerable social groups in remote regions and in major centres including indigenous peoples, transient / migrant workers and women (with children). We aim to bring together researchers from a broad 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 being tracked and articulated by communities, governments, industry and NGOs;
  • what are best practices for addressing these changes in well-being.

Through this networking, we anticipate the following outcomes:

  • Clearer and more rigorous uses of concept of well-being in the planning, monitoring and management of resource development and its effects on northern peoples;
  • Common understanding of the concepts, determinants and protective factors that matter to communities well-being in the circumpolar world;
  • An edited volume on “Well-being and Resource Development” and plain language newsletters on each chapter.


The research is focused on the theme “well-being” identified as important to ReSDA during the well being presentation Parlee Gap analysis22012 Gap Analysis. Specifically, many aspects of community well-being in the arctic have been little explored in the academic literature; nonetheless, many proponents of resource development (e.g. Mackenzie Gas Pipeline project) are using well-being as the framework for interpreting potential socio-economic, cultural and environmental effects on northern communities. A key strength of this proposal is the circumpolar scope of the research.


There has been a growth in research focused on issues of well-being in northern communities including that through SLiCA, the International Polar Year (Anderson and Poppel 2002; Duhaime and Usher 2003; Kruse et al. 2008; Parlee and Furgal 2012). This body of work provides a critical framework for conceptualizing and investigating the pathways by which community well-being is impacted by natural resource development, particularly large scale oil and gas, mining and hydro-electric projects in remote regions.

A sub-research network of RESDA will be established through the funding the proposal that includes researchers from seven universities in Canada, the United States, Alaska and Europe.  Similar to the gap analysis, the budget will allow for $5000 x 8 regions which will serve as seed funding or as a one term stipend for an MA, MSc student or undergraduate student.

A total of five student will be hired a the Master’s or undergraduate level for a total of one term each. These students will be from Canadian Universities. They will be involved in liaising with the larger network of researchers on this project, will identify sources of relevant documented sources  (e.g. government reports, environmental impacts statements etc.), synthesize key points, and develop a descriptive report for their regional academic lead.

Timeline of Project: July 2014 to June 2015

For more information contact:

Brenda Parlee
Faculty of Native Studies, ALES
1-07 Pembina Hall, 507 General Services Building
University of Alberta, Edmonton AB T6G 2H8
T. 780-492-6825
Email: brenda.parlee@ualberta.ca