The Subarctic, the boreal forest region of Canada, is often referred to as "The Forgotten North" (Coates and Morrison, 1992) since it has received far less developmental interest than Canada's three territories north of the 60th parallel. Canada owes its national heritage to previous generations of the peoples of the Boreal Region, now referred to as Mid-Canada. Mid-Canada stretches all across the country from British Columbia and the Yukon to Québec and Newfoundland and Labrador and up into the Mackenzie Basin, truly making Canada a "nation of rivers and a river of nations." The peoples of Mid-Canada think of their regions primarily in terms of drainage basins of land and water rather than in terms of provincial and territorial boundaries. This resource-rich area has been a source of wealth for all Canadians for more than the past century, both through its nonrenewable resources of min erals and hydrocarbons and through its renewable resources of wildlife, fish, and forests.
Although the remote communities of Canada's North tend to experience a lower standard of living than their southern counterparts, the peoples and communities of Mid-Canada wish to become self-sustainable and to contribute to the quality of life experienced by the rest of Canada. For them to accomplish this, they must develop policy and the internal capacity to supplement their efforts through a visionary, inclusive, and responsible process of community-driven research.
In 1967, the Mid-Canada Corridor Concept was advocated as a national developmental strategy that would encompass the entire Boreal Region, from Newfoundland to the Yukon (Rohmer, 1970). A consulting engineering firm was retained to carry out a concept study. It published a report, entitled Mid-Canada Development Corridor, in 1967. Following this event, the Mid-Canada Corridor Conference was held in August 1969 at Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Ontario, as a means of public consultation and scholarly discussion of the Acres report. After considerable consultation, and for reasons not known, the concept was shelved.
In 2001, the Member of Parliament for Churchill River began to redevelop the concept. Since August 2001, the Mid-Canada development concept has been discussed at three "River Gatherings" with northern Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal leaders in northern Saskatchewan. The common heritage of Canada's remote northern communities and their dependence upon the rivers and river basins of Canada for their livelihoods was discussed. Northern community leaders voiced their opinion that considerable new knowledge and research was needed for them to ensure the sustainability of their communities in the Boreal Region in the face of pronounced global change.
The following list shows eight typical research priorities that have arisen through a consultative process for the communities of the Mid-Canada Subarctic region:
• Economic development, business development, job creation.
• Environment and climate change.
• Health services.
• Education and training.
• Communication and knowledge sharing.
The priority of governance research is indicated by the fact that the provincial territory of Nunavik in northern Québec has attained self-governing status, that land claims agreements do not necessarily specify transfer of governing powers, and that negotiations with Canada's federal and provincial governments are in process for regional self-government in many parts of Mid-Canada.
A new institute, the Mid-Canada Research Institute, has recently been formed. It will facilitate the first steps toward national policies and programs for the resource-rich Mid-Canada region that is vital to Canada's economy by:
• Providing a focused research approach to the priorities of Mid-Canada social, environmental, and economic development.
• Building community capacity that will link and integrate earth sciences into innovation in the Mid-Canada region.
• Serving as a knowledge base and information clearing house to be shared between communities, universities, other northern research institutions, governments, and the private sector.
See also Cree; Dene; Fur Trade; Gwich'in; Hudson's Bay Company; Innu; Inuit; Inuvialuit; Land Claims; Mackenzie River; Newfoundland and Labrador; North West Passage; Northwest Territories; Nunavik; Nunavut; Québec; Yukon Territory
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