Sustainable Communities

Theme Coordinator – Chris Southcott, Lakehead University
Chris S. at Inuvik airport 2012

Theme Update – June 2014
We have four projects underway in this sustainable communities theme and one project that has finished. The “Mobile Miners: Long Distance commuting among mine workers in Whitehorse” project looked at what workers involved in long distance commuting liked and disliked about these arrangements as they currently exist in the Yukon. Organized by Chris Jones of Lakehead University, the project helps us better understand potential benefits, and problems, that arise from the introduction of long distance commuting in the north. A final research report is currently be prepared and should be posted soon on the ReSDA website. Chris wrote a Master’s thesis based on this research and it will also be posted.

Building on this project, ReSDA has been fortunate to have Gertrude Eilmsteiner-Saxinger of the University of Vienna agree to examine more deeply the issue of long distance community and community participation. Gerti has worked for many years examining these issues in the Russian North and hopes to compare the situation in Russia to that in the Yukon and, hopefully, other areas of the Canadian North.

Thierry Rodon is looking at resource royalties distribution and community development. Building on earlier research he undertook in Nunavik, and which he recently presented at the ICASS meetings in May, he is hoping to better understand how best to distribute royalties gained from resource development within communities. Ben Bradshaw of the University of Guelph has worked for many years on the benefits and problems with Impact Benefit Agreements. The project manager of the Impact Benefit Agreement Research Network has started a project looking at ways Northern Aboriginal communities can increase the usefulness of IBAs. In a cross theme project being done in partnership with Brenda Parlee, Kent Spiers, a former researcher at the University of Alaska Anchorage’s Institute for Social and Economic Research, is currently doing a Master’s thesis at Lakehead University looking at how communities develop differing models of well-being by comparing models from both Alaska and the Yukon.

We have several other projects also in the works. Lee Huskey of the University of Alaska Anchorage has submitted a proposal to develop a way communities can better understand where the money from resource development goes and how to make more of it stay in the north. He and I recently presented a paper at the Annual Meetings of the Western Regional Science Association which outlined how this could be done. One of the first projects that ReSDA started was the Inuvialuit Indicators project. Led by Andrey Petrov of the University of Northern Iowa the project was done in partnership with the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation and built on the IRC’s attempts to create reliable ways that northern communities could measure the impacts of resource developments. Based on this first project ReSDA is currently in discussions with the IRC to extend this work to include new ways that communities could develop, manage, analyze community-based monitoring dealing with social and economic change.


Canada’s Arctic communities have changed drastically over the past 100 years. These changes have resulted in a tremendous amount of social and economic stress (Heininen and Southcott, 2010). Recent events, such as the uncertain – but already evident – impacts of climate change, have increased the likelihood of new challenges; some, however, have also offered promise for these communities to become increasingly involved in finding solutions to these challenges (Furgal, 2005; Ford, 2010). The possibility now exists to find new ways of developing the natural resources of the region in a manner that allows the communities to deal with the challenges and ensure sustainable futures (Winther, 2001; Natcher and Hicket, 2005; Smith, 2005; Fondahl et al., 2010). While the first theme highlights policy-related research, this theme will concentrate on examining community-specific impacts.

Subproject research questions include:

  • What are the impacts on Northern communities of migration related to resource development?
  • What are the impacts of commuting on communities in the North?
  • What are the impacts of resource development on the health and well-being of Northern communities?
  • How can we establish baseline data to measure the impact of resource development on a community?
  • What forms of community partnerships function best?
  • How can changes in quality of life, brought on by resource development, be measured in the Canadian context?

Theme Coordinator – Chris Southcott, Lakehead University

Other team members include: Nils Aarsaether (University of Tromso, Norway), Wiktor Adamowicz (University of Alberta), Matt Berman (University of Alaska, Anchorage), Susan Chatwood (University of Toronto), Gail Fondahl (University of Northern British Columbia), Tim Heleniak (University of Maryland), Lee Huskey (University of Alaska, Anchorage), Mark Nuttall (University of Alberta), Joan Nymand-Larsen (University of Akureyri, Iceland), Andrey Petrov (University of Northern Iowa), Birger Poppel (University of Greenland), Larisa Riabova (Kola Science Centre, Russia), Peter Schweitzer (University of Alaska, Fairbanks), Florian Stammler (University of Lapland, Finland), Olli Westerlund (Umea University, Sweden), Gary Wilson (University of Northern British Columbia), T. Kue Young (University of Toronto)


Projects under this theme: