Centre for the North Blogs
Constructive steps towards Indigenizing professional engineering by Jane Cooper, Senior Research Associate, The Conference Board of Canada | October 2020
You look at mining companies, or any natural resource extraction … and one of the primary types of conflicts that they have is with Indigenous people. That is happening because there is this massive cultural and knowledge gap between the science people and Indigenous people. In engineering, we would hugely benefit from a class on treaties. Because no matter where you go, you're going to deal with project management that has to do with Indigenous land, or Indigenous people, or Indigenous treaties.
Health emergencies in Indigenous communities in Canada: Then and now
Pandemics and diseases loom large in the history of Indigenous groups in Canada. Past outbreaks have had devastating outcomes, fueled by colonial policies and persistent inequalities.
Today, Indigenous communities are both receiving and giving support to counter COVID-19. But it is important that the current public health response acknowledges their history. By examining past pandemics, we can better understand how Indigenous communities are experiencing the current crisis.
Inclusive growth is more than jobs and GDP by Oana Spinu, Senior Research Associate and Adam Fiser, Associate Director at The Conference Board of Canada | June 2020
It is about dignity and quality of life through self-determination and sustainable livelihoods.
In a world shaken by the pandemic crisis and social inequality, many voices are now calling for measures to build a more inclusive society and economy. In Canada’s North, Inuit have been developing their own vision of inclusive growth, one where they share the same quality of life as all Canadians. Inclusive growth is more than jobs and GDP. It is about dignity and quality of life through self-determination and sustainable livelihoods.
Responding to COVID-19—Indigenous communities can’t be expected to do more with less by Stefan Fournier, Director, Indigenous and Northern Communities, The Conference Board of Canada | May 2020
When Canada’s rural and remote Indigenous communities face emergencies, they often lack the resources and supports common to most Canadian towns and cities. But despite being at a comparative disadvantage, these communities generally manage to respond. They do this by using their strengths—by relying on informal practices, traditional knowledge, local skills, and on each other.
It is remarkable what First Nation, Inuit, and Métis communities can do with little to work with. Many communities are again looking to their strengths and ingenuity, as they face the threat of COVID-19. But should we be expecting these communities to do more with less? Does this produce optimal outcomes?
Fast-Tracked Innovations: Could COVID-19 Accelerate Health Technologies in Canada’s North?
by Ken Coates, Professor and Canada Research Chair in Regional Innovation and Carin Holroyd, Associate Professor, University of Saskatchewan and Joelena Leader, Research Facilitator, Edwards School of Business, University of Saskatchewan | April 2020
The coronavirus crisis of 2020 has exposed the strengths and weaknesses of the Canadian health care system. This is particularly true in Canada’s North, where isolated Indigenous communities face the prospects of widespread infection with great anxiety. The remoteness of Northern settlements—coupled with serious housing shortages, overcrowded homes, and limited health care services—heighten the dangers of the pandemic.
Addressing the causes of Indigenous vulnerability to pandemics—not just the symptoms
by Oana Spinu, Senior Research Associate I, The Conference Board of Canada and Jordan Wapass, Principal Research Associate, The Conference Board of Canada | March 2020
Many have rightfully called for decisive government action to ensure that Indigenous communities have essential resources to respond to COVID-19. In response to the immediate needs of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities, the federal government announced $305 million for a distinctions-based Indigenous Communities Support Fund. Only time will tell how effective the fund will be in empowering communities to deal with the crisis.
Over the past 30 years, major project agreements (MPAs) between Indigenous communities and natural resources companies have become the cornerstone of successful development projects in Canada. It is increasingly clear that without MPAs, the likelihood of major projects proceeding is significantly reduced and that partnerships between Indigenous communities and industry are now the norm, not the exception. Corporate and Indigenous community leaders emphasize the need of having MPAs to build trust, improve certainty, and establish joint economic development opportunities.
During The Tragically Hip’s final concert in Kingston last month, lead singer Gord Downie took a moment to reflect on the situation facing many Indigenous peoples in Canada. During his powerful callout to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Canadian population at large, Downie spoke of the urgent need for change—and there is clear evidence to support this.
Canada is moving through some significant changes in its relationship with Aboriginal people. And as we approach Aboriginal Awareness Week (May 24 to 27), we wanted to take a moment to place a spotlight on two recent and important decisions.
The very climatic changes that are opening up Northern waters to exploration and shipping are the same changes that are making these activities more difficult.
Blessed with natural resource endowments, the North has lots of potential for economic growth. But this does not mean that natural resource development automatically leads to sustainable Northern community development. How we prepare and plan for growth in the North will largely determine how that growth benefits Northerners for generations to come.