Resource Development: a cast study in Pond Inlet, NU

Adapting to Rapid Environmental and Economic Change in Nunavut: How do local communities leverage opportunities to create economic self-sufficiency?

Primary Researcher: Roger Ritsema (M.A.)


arctic economyEnvironmental and economic change is happening at a rapid pace in the Canada’s North. The warming currently being observed in the Arctic is occurring at twice the global average. As the Arctic warms first order climate change impacts such as melting sea-ice are leading to more complex second order impacts: less ice and warmer temperatures mean resources that were once impractical are now feasible, resulting in a host of new impacts on local communities. Currently, governments and industry are pushing for resource development, which is leading toward a rapid development scenario. On the face of it, Inuit in Nunavut appear to be in a good position to benefit, land claims have been settled, there are provisions for IIBA’s with communities affected by resource development, and a young under-employed population exists. What remains unclear is how local communities will be able to leverage new economic opportunities toward self-sufficiency and further, what stands in the way of community desired visions for prosperity?

Using a case study approach, this research focuses on the economic change happening in Pond Inlet. With this change, most notably from resource extraction but also from tourism and the traditional economy, there are opportunities that the community could benefit from. For instance the nearby Mary River mining project has the potential for far reaching impacts on many aspects of local life, positive and negative.

The specific objectives of this research are to:

1) Define a local vision for development ‘success’;

2) Identify challenges and barriers that could stop desired development and local ideas for ‘success’;

3) Evaluate solutions to improving local economic independence and limiting ‘barriers to success’;

4) Contribute to local and regional policy solutions.

I believe that northern research should be of practical use to communities and regional decision-makers for it to be considered successful; after all, the people who live there will have to live with the consequences of these decisions. As a researcher I aim to provide information that can be used as a tool in planning for Nunavut’s future. To this end, three overarching goals guide this research:

1) Providing practical data and recommendations for community decision-makers.

2) Contributing to local and regional policy solutions.

3) Furthering theoretical understandings of the relationship between economic development and community adaptation in the Canadian Arctic.