Environmental Issues in Canada's North - A Race Against Time

Environmental Issues in Canada's North - A Race Against Time

When I first arrived to Saskatoon to begin my ENVERA partnership at the University of Saskatchewan, I quickly had to remind myself of what I had recently taught my students back at the CEU, i.e. be flexible in your field work as you should expect the unexpected! On my first day here, the communities where I was to visit in northern Saskatchewan were completely evacuated due to extensive forest fires in the area. As we waited for the fires to subside, however, I became quickly involved in a number of projects ...

1. Damage-causing animals and compensation programs in Alberta and Saskatchewan. This includes programs related to waterfowl, elk, deer, bear and wolf.

2. Revision of the 'Environment' domain, recently identified by northern communities as a macro-indicator of community health. As part of SPHERU's First Nation’s Health Development: Tools for Assessment of Health and Social Service Program Impacts on Community Wellness and Capacity, this project developed indicators and a framework for use by First Nations and northern health organizations to track the effects of health and human service programs under their jurisdiction on indicators of community health. The first phase can be accessed at http://www.uregina.ca/fnh/. Revisions and future directions concerning the Environment domain will now be taken back to the project team and communities for discussion.

3.  Midwest Uranium Project EIS - This project seeks to expand uranium mining and milling in the world famous Athabasca Basin in northern Saskatchewan, which is the source of 1/3 of the world's uranium. Recently, the cost of fossil fuels and the increased demand for uranium has reignited exploration in the region, promising employment and development opportunities, but historically has left in its wake a legacy of abandoned mines and concerned citizens. As stakeholders, the remote communities in the region (many of which are First Nation) are increasingly burdened with the environmental costs of such exploration and have requested assistance in interpreting the multitude of EISs which will have dramatic effects on their traditional ways of life, including their high dependence on migrating caribou herds through Canada's North. Project details can be found at  http://www.cri.ca/operations/midwest.html

4. Athabasca Land Use Plan - in the midst of escalating development in the area, Athabascan communities are also developing a Land Use Plan which they hope will streamline activities in the area, and ensure sustainable livelihoods well into the future. I have been asked to comment on the draft of this document, which will be developed further this year. The draft can be accessed at http://www.environment.gov.sk.ca/adx/aspx/adxGetMedia.aspx?DocID=685,683,621,247,94,88,Documents&MediaID=293&Filename=Athabasca+LUP+appendices.pdf

Each of these four areas have promising thesis opportunities for MESPOM students! If you are interested, please contact me at anthonyb@ceu.hu