Sustainable Regions

Theme Coordinator – Frances Abele, Carleton University              
This research theme is centered on finding ways of ensuring that the regions of the North have the appropriate tools to mitigate the negative impacts of resource development and allow more benefits of this development to stay in the region. With a focus on policy-related research, this theme builds upon and revises the ideas developed and tested in the Research Development Initiative (2009-11) project, “Understanding the New Northern Economy.”

The institutional framework for economic planning and resource development decision-making in northern Canada is the consequence of 3 decades of political development and remarkable social change (Abele, 2009). Much of what exists today is an institutional response to Aboriginal peoples’ struggles for more democratic control over their lives. New and evolving public and Aboriginal governments, an innovative regulatory framework involving high levels of public participation, and the sustained engagement of a federal government focused on national (and not necessarily regional) priorities create a unique environment for policy development (McCrank, 2008; Braden, 2009).

The very newness of these arrangements, and the high stakes for northern communities in light of the changes that global warming is bringing, create a need for evidence-based policy development that is coordinated, collaborative, and open to continuous improvement. This research theme will develop new evidence, search through and synthesize research from a range of disciplines, and offer innovative analyses in direct response to these needs. The projects will aim to raise public awareness of research results and policy options, while ensuring that dialogue with policy-makers continues.

Subproject research questions include:

  • What are the negative impacts of past resource development that have presented a barrier to sustainable development in Canada’s North?
  • What have been the negative impacts of past mining activities that have serves as barriers to sustainable development in the Canadian North?
  • What policy changes are helping resource development in the region contribute to a greater degree of sustainability?
  • What types of Impact Benefit Agreements are most effective at promoting the sustainable development of resources in Northern Canada?
  • What are the impacts of these new security concerns on attempts by the region to promote the sustainable development of its resources?
  • What are the appropriate models for developing commercial fisheries in the region in a sustainable manner?
  • Quels sont les rapports entre la structure économique régionale et les conditions économiques des ménages, tentant de répondre à des questions du genre de la stratification, la pauvreté, et l’exclusion.


Other team members include: Michel Beaulieu (Lakehead University), Ben Bradshaw (University of Guelph), Ken Coates (University of Waterloo), Gerard Duhaime (Université Laval), Lassi Heininen (University of Lapland, Finland), Arn Keeling (Memorial University), Whitney Lackenbauer (University of Waterloo), Suzanne Mills (McMaster University), Bram Noble (University of Saskatchewan), Thierry Rodon (Université Laval), John Sandlos (Memorial University), Stephan Schott (Carleton University), Deborah Simmons (University of Manitoba)