The North has immense economic, cultural and symbolic potential; since the 1950s it has helped drive the Canadian economy. However, even though northern natural resources have clearly benefited southern Canada, the benefits have been more limited for the people of the North. Aboriginal communities as well as newer, resource-based communities have suffered from short-sighted models of development that have focused on short-term benefits. These communities have different historical and cultural backgrounds, but share several key characteristics: their peripheral position in relation to decision making, lack of control over resource development, and dependence on government transfers. In fact, the North is an underdeveloped area that faces significant challenges. Aboriginal populations are undergoing major population growth accompanied by wide-ranging social problems caused by the rapid pace of change, lack of employment and overcrowded houses.
The mission of this chair is to improve knowledge of northern issues and reframe development models in order to inform decision-making by Inuit organizations and all levels of government.
The Northern Sustainable Development Research Chair was created thanks to the financial contributions from Makivik Corporation and ArcelorMittal Canada. It is now funded by Makivik Corporation and the Institut nordique du Québec. Since its creation in 2011, the chair obtained $5.5 millions dollars in research grants.
This chair proposes to rethink northern development in sustainable terms. Doing so means integrating notions of social and human capital and environmental protection into the economic development equation. It also means taking steps to ensure that the benefits of development flow first to the North, where the needs are great, before flowing to Quebec and the rest of Canada. In reality, these two conditions are concomitant, because improvements in northern living conditions will make it possible to reduce dependence on transfer payments from the South. Canada and Québec need to rethink their entire relationship with the North so that it is no longer simply viewed as a resource-rich hinterland whose main purpose is to fuel development in the South, but rather as a full-fledged partner in a relationship mutually beneficial to both parties. With this aim in mind, the chair’s main goal is to analyze and define development models that put specific northern needs first, engage local communities and representative organizations, and also respond to the imperatives of sustainable development in a northern context.
More specifically, the chair pursues the following objectives:
• Take inventory of northern natural, human, social, and financial resources and analyze the structural barriers to sustainable development of the North
• Document and analyze factors favourable to sustainable development in the North and develop scenarios for the harmonious development of northern natural, human, social, and financial resources
• Understand and analyze the factors that contribute to the viability and sustainability of northern communities
• Improve the research capacity in the North by supporting the creation of a social science research centre in Nunavik
• Involve Northerners in the research process by offering accredited training and scholarship
The chair proposes to examine the issue of sustainable development in Nunavik from four different perspectives:
• Economic development
• Political and institutional development
• Social and cultural development
• Human development
The chair incorporates all four areas in an interdisciplinary perspective and promotes the creation and sharing of knowledge among researchers and partners. The chair will also enhance our knowledge of the North and inform decision-making.
Founded in 1975, Makivik Corporation represents Nunavik (Northern Quebec) Inuit. It manages the benefits obtained under the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement.
The Institut nordique du Québec (INQ) aims to foster the sustainable development of the North by bringing together Quebec’s expertise in the broad fields of northern and Arctic research.