Extractive Resource Development and Subsistence Harvesting: A Complex Relationship

Lead Author Chris, Southcott
Institution Contact Lakehead University Thunder Bay ON Canada P7B5E1
Theme Theme 2: Vulnerability of Arctic Societies
Session Name 2.2 Resource development and building capacity in Arctic communities
Presentation Type Poster
Abstract text Any attempt to ensure increased capacity building from resource development to northern communities must try and understand the relationships that exist between this form of development and subsistence activities. As others have pointed out, one of the unique aspects of most northern communities is that they depend upon a “mixed economy” which includes an important place for traditional subsistence harvesting. Yet the relationship between resource development, and especially extractive developments, and traditional Indigenous economic activities is not well understood. For many, mining, oil and gas and other large-scale industrial developments represent a threat to the continuation of hunting and gathering traditions. At the same time, over the past 30 years we have seen communities start to claim that extractive resource development actually serves to ensure the continuation of traditional subsistence lifestyles. This paper will first look at the place of subsistence activities in northern communities and try to understand current conditions. We will then examine some of the research dealing with the impact of resource development on subsistence activities. Finally, we will look at the evidence existing in the socio-economic monitoring activities that are part of current extractive resource developments. Findings indicate that there is no definitive answer as to whether resource development is good or bad for subsistence activities. The impacts of mining or oil and gas developments will depend largely on local conditions and the ability of local communities to have some degree of control over the relationship.