Completed Projects


Indigenous Bioenergy Partnerships in Canada: 2017-2018

Ryan Bullock (Principle Investigator) and Melanie Zurba (Co-Investigator)

Funded by: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), and BioFuelNet

Partners: John Parkins (University of Alberta), Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business

The rapidly expanding forest bioenergy sector in Canada promises to support low carbon energy options that also support economic development and Indigenous involvement. However, there is little empirical research conducted on Indigenous participation in forest bioenergy in Canada, which points to the need for a nuanced and reliable knowledge base to foster innovation in bioenergy that will contribute to community and economic development. This video highlights the work being done on Indigenous bioenergy partnerships in Canada by Dr. Ryan Bullock, Dr. Melanie Zurba and their team at The University of Winnipeg in partnership with the University of Alberta and the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business.

Climate Impact Assessment and Monitoring in Northern Canada: Assessing Opportunities for CAF-Indigenous Collaboration: 2017-2018

Ryan Bullock (Principle Investigator)

Funded by: Canadian Department of National Defense

Climate change is having a disproportionate impact on Canada’s boreal and Arctic ecosystems, as melting ice and permafrost, rising seas and changing weather conditions exhibit impacts on northern infrastructure and resource dependent livelihoods. Food security and water quality concerns and damage to infrastructure, especially in permafrost regions, are key impacts of concern in northern regions requiring of adaptation solutions. IPCC scientific evidence indicates a growing need for climate adaptation approaches to address risks to freshwater ecosystems, terrestrial and marine ecosystems, and the economic sectors and populations that depend on these threatened natural resources. A changing physical environment is creating additional risks to northern community health and wellbeing, such as potential risks of injury and illness due to disease vector changes, melting ice, extreme weather, and rising seas. Local knowledge of environmental and social change will remain crucial to monitoring and navigating northern environs.

This research program aims to explore new models for cross-cultural collaboration and their linkages to adaptive capacity, innovation and learning in governance. New understanding is required to effectively navigate rapidly occurring and inter-connected processes of environmental and social change, particularly in Canada’s northern regions.  The project will assess current opportunities for advancing adaptive governance systems involving Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), First Nations, Metis, and Inuit as an integral component of developing strategic plans for territorial defense, environmental security, and monitoring of northern Canada.

Aboriginal Capacity Building Achievements for Sustainable Natural Resource Development: 2015

Ryan Bullock (Principle Investigator)

Funded bySocial Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)

Government and industry interests have historically dominated natural resource and energy development in Canada resulting in the exclusion of Aboriginal peoples from decision-making and benefits. However, new natural resource development opportunities are increasingly supporting broader Aboriginal goals for asserting control in traditional territories and economic self-sufficiency. There has been a steady increase in collaborative arrangements, such as Aboriginally-owned and operated development corporations, impact and benefits agreements, resource revenue sharing, and involvement of Aboriginal governments, residents and businesses in large-scale infrastructure projects. A move from central government control towards “co-management” and other forms of decentralized and devolved institutional arrangements places local knowledge, values, and accountabilities directly in natural resource management

This knowledge synthesis project focused on how natural resource industries, governments, and Aboriginal peoples are engaging for constructive, practicable and mutually beneficial development opportunities. Specifically, our synthesis work:

  1. Explored literature on the global pursuit of resources and its impact on Canada’s rural and northern resource-based communities;
  2. Analyzed how Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadian relations can be reconciled through models that produce sustainable benefits and support economic, cultural and ecological multi-party priorities, and;
  3. Examined innovative governance and development arrangements that prioritize Aboriginal capacity building initiatives, benefits, and participation needed to respond to shifting sectoral and societal demands in forestry, energy and mining, for example.

We examined demands of new governance models associated with the quest for natural resource development and related capacities required for Aboriginal peoples to meaningfully participate in Canadian resource wealth generation. The goal of this research was to advance policy matters associated with two core aspects of truth and reconciliation with Aboriginal peoples: 1) increasing Aboriginal control over and benefits from resource development, and; 2) creating respect amongst industry, government and Aboriginal communities.

Northern Governance Innovation and Development for Socially Resilient Boreal Communities: 2014

Ryan Bullock (Principle Investigator)

Funded bySocial Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)

This research addressed northern and Aboriginal governance innovation for inclusive development and social resilience in natural resource rich settings.

The broad aims of this research were to:

  1. Enhance understanding of social resilience, its conceptual links to environmental governance, social innovation and learning, and its application to northern and Aboriginal issues;
  2. Identify factors that support social resilience and inclusive development in the north;
  3. Foster socio-economic research capacity, knowledge and policies that support marginalized northern regions and people, and recognize national and international issues, now and into the future.

In this context, key overarching research questions were: what governance conditions produce socially resilient northern communities within the circumboreal? Specifically, are there certain governance models that are well suited to northern cross-cultural settings that also foster innovative ways of working together, learning, and making decisions that contribute to development? What are the theoretical and practical links among northern governance and development, social innovation, and what are the implications for enhancing social resilience in boreal communities?

The specific objectives of this research were to:

  1. Undertake empirical research to refine theory and concepts of social resilience in cross-cultural resource development settings, and their connection to governance and social innovation;
  2. Conduct applied community-based action research using mixed methods, alternative peer-review protocols and knowledge transfer formats that enable active knowledge exchange;
  3. Foster existing and new research relationships with partners to develop and enhance capacity (both community capacity and university research capacity) for northern and Aboriginal governance innovation, and;
  4. Target and disseminate findings for northern policy development.

Community Forests Canada Joint Workshop-Symposium: 2014

Ryan Bullock (Principle Investigator) and Julia Lawler (Co-Investigator)

Funded by: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)

The first day of the joint workshop and symposium was a writing and discussion workshop for the book Bridging Practice, Research and Advocacy for Communities and Forests in Canada. The second day was a networking and policy outreach symposium involving the book contributors, additional invited speakers, and participants. The symposium engaged community members from across Canada including researchers, Aboriginal representatives, government officials, local advocates, industry representatives, and students in order to exchange experiences and resources for advancing community forestry practice, research, and advocacy. Participants shared knowledge and resources of utility to forest communities, industries and governments.

A day of presentations, plenary and breakout discussions, and archival and artifact displays was designed to help explore and reframe relationships between forests and communities. This event also provided an opportunity to build new partnerships and extend the Community Forests Canada network to Manitoba in order to welcome new groups into the fold and secure collaboration. The two events connected over 50 participants from across Canada, who shared community forestry experiences and insights, asked questions, and worked to identify gaps and opportunities to bridge practice, research, and advocacy.

Click here to view the report.


Research posters and presentations:

Aboriginal Business Leaders’ Perceptions of Bioenergy Innovation – Ryan Bullock (presentation)

Impact Assessment, Small Hydro and Environmental Justice in India – Alan Diduck (presented at GNLU 2019)

Pathways of learning about biodiversity and sustainability in private urban gardens – Alan Diduck (presented at CAG 2019 in Winnipeg, MB)

Towards a theory of multi-level learning in climate change adaptation – Alan Diduck (presented at IASC 2019 in Lima, Peru)

Evidence of learning for climate change adaptation: An assessment of environmental and natural resource partnerships – Julia Antonyshyn (poster for IASC 2019 in Lima, Peru)

Evidence of learning for climate change adaptation: An assessment of environmental and natural resource partnerships – Julia Antonyshyn (presented at CAG 2019 in Winnipeg, MB)