Research Directors Report 2012

August 2012

In this first newsletter for ReSDA I want to thank all of the researchers and community partners who helped create ReSDA and helped us obtain funding. I also want to thank all those northerners who participated in a series of social economy workshops in all regions of the Canadian north from 2007 until 2010. It was from these workshops that the idea for ReSDA came into being. In all of these workshops community activists talked about the need for research into ways of using the natural resources in a way that could help improve life in the North.

Much has happened since ReSDA came into being on April 1 2011. The logistics of setting up the largest social science research network in the North has been time consuming but has is almost finished. The main coordination office is now established at the Yukon Research Centre in Whitehorse and is headed up by Val Walker. We are close to setting up the regional coordination offices in Iqaluit, Goose Bay, Kuujjuaq, and Inuvik. Our funding from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation has recently been released and we are in the process of purchasing equipment for our Northern social science labs.

Following a series of meetings in early 2011 a decision was made to alter slightly the timing of our research activities. Since the project has funding in place for 7 years, rather than start individual subprojects immediately, it was decided that we should first do a series of gap analyses to make sure that the projects we put together are the right projects to help communities. This approach was supported by researchers and community partners at our first Annual workshop in Yellowknife in November, 2011. These gap analyses are currently being completed and will be presented for discussion on our website and at the 2012 annual workshop in Whitehorse. These will lead to a series of research projects starting in early 2013.

This has not meant a delay in research projects relating to the building of baseline indicators. The need to properly measure social and economic change in Northern communities and to measure the impacts of resource development has long been noted by a wide range of people. From the start of funding ReSDA has put in place research into the best way to measure impacts. This is best exemplified by the project currently being done in partnership with the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation and described in this newsletter.

We have at least six years of funding left and I am certain that during this time ReSDA will be able to develop the research that will help Northerners to find creative new ways to use natural resource development to ensure more economically, socially, and culturally sustainable communities in the North in a manner that respects the unique environment of the region.