A Comparative Assessment of the Capacity of Canadian Rural Communities... Uncertain Futures PROJECT TITLE

A Comparative Assessment of the Capacity of Canadian Rural Communities to Adapt to
Uncertain Futures
Rural communities are important contributors to the national economy and Canadian identity.
Many rural communities across Canada continue to be closely tied to resource activities such as
forestry, agriculture and the fishery, but vary in their social, economic, cultural and political
make-up. Federal and provincial policies, global economic forces and environmental events all
affect their development and well-being.
This project will focus on four rural, resource-based communities across Canada1 to gain a better
understanding of how social, economic and environmental factors are shaping their various
development paths. The project will include an assessment of recent community histories as well
as how climatic change – together with many other factors – may affect the ability of these rural
communities to adapt and cope with change in the future.
The project does not assume that climatic change is an important factor for rural communities.
Climatic change will be treated as one of many factors that may affect local-level decisionmaking. Project collaborators also recognize that human-induced climatic change can have
negative or positive consequences at the local level. Our hope is that discussion about adaptation
and the possible consequences of climatic change in Alert Bay and ‘Namgis traditional territory
will support ongoing community planning processes.
The project will run from January to December 2006. The Climate Change Impacts and
Adaptation Program (CCIAP), a funding program of Natural Resources Canada, along with
Simon Fraser University and other participating universities, have provided financial support.
There are four planned phases for the research project, each of which will be carried out in
collaboration with community members and organizations:
Phase 1: Completing background papers and developing climate change scenarios for each of
the four communities involved with the study. In Alert Bay this will involve an initial
meeting with community representatives to discuss the project, community approaches to
uncertainty and adaptation and project implementation (March/April 2006).
Phase 2: Workshops within each community to review community background papers and
climate change scenarios, obtain feedback from community members on how climatic change
Change Islands, Newfoundland and Labrador; Edwardsburgh/Cardinal, Ontario; Montreal Lake, Saskatchewan; and
Alert Bay, British Columbia
may affect development and livelihood opportunities and discuss adaptation strategies. The
workshops are a central component to the research and will allow for local collaborators to
discuss and analyze past, present and future opportunities and limitations for their
communities. In Alert Bay the workshop will be held Oct. 3rd and involve both a full-day
workshop and evening public session (May-Oct. 2006).
Phase 3: Production of documents for each of the communities, integrating the information
from background documents and discussion at the workshops. Community participants will
have a chance to review the reports and make sure that their concerns and ideas have been
clearly understood and accurately represented (October/November 2006).
Phase 4: Preparation of a final report comparing the four communities by examining
similarities and differences in their development priorities and abilities to adapt to changes, in
climate and more generally, by resource sector and region (November/December 2006).
Project updates will be made available to community partners and workshop participants in the
summer/fall of 2006 (between Phases 1 and 2) and upon completion of all four community
workshops to ensure ongoing communication throughout the project.
University Collaborators
Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario
o Mike Brklacich (mbrklac@ccs.carleton.ca)
o Emily Wilson (mlekwilson@yahoo.ca
o Maureen Woodrow (mwoodrow@ccs.carleton.ca)
University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
o Maureen Reed (m.reed@usask.ca)
o Mathieu Lebel (mathieulebel@hotmail.com)
Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, British Columbia
o Patricia Gallaugher (pgallaug@sfu.ca)
o John T. Pierce (pierce@sfu.ca)
o Kelly Vodden (kmvodden@sfu.ca)
Community Collaborators
‘Namgis First Nation, Village of Alert Bay, U’mista Cultural Centre and Inner Coast
Natural Resource Centre, Alert Bay, B.C.
Montreal Lake Cree Nation, Saskatchewan
Municipal Council, Town of Change Islands, Newfoundland
South Nation Conservation Authority, Berwick, Ontario
Government Collaborators
Environment Canada, Impacts and Adaptation Research Group
Natural Resources Canada, Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Program (CCIAP)
Approximately 30 community members representing First Nations and municipal governments,
elders and the business community have been asked to join us at the full-day workshop described
in Phase 2 above (to be held Oct. 3rd in Alert Bay). Invited local participants will be provided
with a community background study and climate change literature review summary. At the
workshop, highlights from these reports will be verbally summarized and local collaborators will
be asked to discuss these documents and the historical, current and future developments of Alert
Bay and surrounding area. Two possible future scenarios relating to climatic change will also be
presented, followed by a discussion of how each of these may affect the community’s
development and well-being. The workshop will include discussion of questions such as:
What major changes have happened in Alert Bay and surrounding territory over the last
100 years? 20-25 years? Why have these changes taken place?
How do you think your community will look 25-50 years from now? What forces will
impact this future?
Do you think that the climate has changed in the region over the past 100 years? 25-50
years? If so, how?
What aspects of Alert Bay and ’Namgis First Nation’s future development plans are/are
not sensitive to future changes in climate?
After the workshop a report will be prepared. Participants will be invited to review the report and
provide feedback on the workshop findings. Your participation in the workshop and report
review will ensure that local priorities and perspectives are accurately represented. Each invited
workshop participant will be offered a $100.00 per diem/participation fee for their contribution to
the project. Employers may sponsor invited staff members to attend or claim the $100 fee toward
wages of attending staff members.
Members of the general public are welcome to attend both the full-day workshop as observers
and the evening public session. The evening session will include presentations by invited guest
speaker Hanna Eklund of Snowchange Cooperative, Finland and by local youth. The session is
also an opportunity for open discussion and community input.
Benefits of participating in this project include an increased awareness of climate change and its
possible implications for future planning and local development. The project also provides an
opportunity for dialogue with a diverse set of individuals who are all interested in a healthy and
sustainable future for Alert Bay and surrounding territory. Finally, since background studies,
workshop reports and the final comparative assessment report will all be sent to Natural
Resources Canada and made widely available online, your participation allows for local voices
and priorities to be heard in the national arena.
If you have any questions or are interested in participating in this project you may contact any of
the following:
1. Kelly Vodden, Community Researcher, Simon Fraser University
Telephone: 709-678-2147 Email: kmvodden@sfu.ca
2. Members of the Alert Bay Project/Workshop Steering Committee: Doug Aberley, George
Speck, Marty Weinstein and Mona Madill, ‘Namgis First Nation (974-5556), John
Rowell, Mike Berry and Bob Godwin, Village of Alert Bay (974-5213) and Andrea
Sanborn, U’mista Cultural Centre (974-5403)
3. Maureen Woodrow, Project Manager, Carleton University:
Telephone: 613 520-2600 Ext. 7553 or 233-9179
Email: mwoodrow@ccs.carleton.ca