CDI Publications Series

The CDI’s Publications Series is dedicated to sharing knowledge and information on a range of topics important to northern British Columbia and relevant to the CDI’s community, economic, and regional development mandate. The peer review aspect of the Series ensures that only high quality research is published.

Learning circles: what is their potential in Aboriginal community economic development?

By John McBride and Julia Good


This paper explores learning circles and their potential as community economic development (CED) tools. Special emphasis is placed on learning circles as an Aboriginal methodology and the opportunities of using this as an appropriate approach in Aboriginal contexts. Drawing upon the experiences of the Urban Aboriginal Economic Development (UAED) Network and its learning circles, a content analysis is used to examine the lessons and challenges in the wider context of learning circle methodologies, knowledge mobilization theory, and a CED framework. Through a literature review and an account of the UAED experience, the paper introduces the learning circle concept. A brief review of CED principles and processes, and the knowledge mobilization literature, provides the backdrop for placing learning circles in existing concepts. In conclusion, the authors elaborate on the value of the learning circle methodology in terms of its potential to respond to knowledge mobilization expectations and challenges in the realization of Aboriginal CED.

Multi-Sectoral Collaboration and Economic Development: Lessons from England's Regional Development Agencies

By Marleen Morris


The challenges of economic transformation are being felt around the world. Prospering in this shifting environment requires an approach to economic development that recognizes that this issue cannot be addressed by one organization or one sector acting independently; collaboration between the public, private, and non-profit sectors is required. The purpose of this paper is to explore multi-sectoral collaboration in economic development. It identifies 13 factors that impact multi-sectoral collaboration in economic development and describes how they come into play. The paper also explores the factors that have an impact on developing collaboration between local governments to create a regional approach to economic development; one that achieves the synergies and produces the momentum required for lasting economic change. While England's regional development agencies were selected as the focus for this research into economic development, the purpose was to translate lessons learned to the British Columbia context.

A Primer For Understanding Issues Around Rural Poverty

By Greg Halseth and Laura Ryser


Poverty remains an important, but complex and challenging research, policy, and lived world issue.  In northern BC, communities have been exposed to a range of pressures over the past 3 decades that have led to concerns about poverty and associated support services. The purpose of this primer is two-fold.  The first part explores economic and social restructuring processes that have affected resource-based communities, as well as how opportunities and challenges to address poverty are affected by the unique places, infrastructure, and institutions of rural and small town communities. The second part includes information about measuring and executing qualitative research on rural poverty. Due to the complex and sensitive nature of rural poverty, more engaged, personal, and flexible approaches to conducting rural poverty research need to be adopted.

Lessons From The Development of Northeast Coal in BC

By Graham Kedgley, BC's former Coal Coordinator 


This paper communicates lessons learned from a major resource development project in northern BC. Comments presented in the paper are  based on the author’s four years of experience (1978 to 1982) as BC’s Coal Coordinator. The goal of the Northeast Coal project was to realize  spin-off economic impacts from creating a new mining centre in the province. Building on the host of infrastructure, support industries, telecommunications, education, labour, goods and services, transportation, fabricating, equipment, energy, international trade arrangements, and associated economic activities, the Government of BC used Northeast Coal as the focal point for a larger vision of regional development. The author’s involvement in the project focused on three components: marketing, the infrastructure development plan, and the transportation plan. Based on his experiences, the author presents three main lessons he sees as especially relevant today:

  • The first one is that it is time the government of today identified a few major northern opportunities (creating 1,000-1,500 jobs each in the north) so as to set a development foundation for the future.
  • The second point is, having identified a few important opportunities, a provincial coordinator (an expert or “point person”) who really understands the opportunity and has experience should be appointed. This coordinator should be given goals, a high level connection to the provincial government, and about 4 years to work through the effort.
  • The third point is more general in that government has to be proactive in its encouragement of economic activity in the north. The pace of economic opportunity is so fast in today’s globalized economy that there simply is not enough time to work from a reactive position.

Co-Managing Research: Building and Sustaining a First Nation - University Partnership

By Gail Fondahl, Pamela Wright, Deanna Yim, Erin Sherry, Beverly Leon, Wayne Bulmer, Sue Grainger, and Jane Young


Community-based participatory research, or what we term ‘co-managed research,’ has become increasingly common over the past decade. Its growth among indigenous communities is especially notable, as First Nations and other indigenous communities increasingly demand a role as partners in research, rejecting the position of research subjects. This paper is based on a decade of increasingly collaborative work between university researchers and First Nations members. We discuss ingredients important to establishing a successful partnership for co-managed research, as well as factors contributing to the successful functioning of such a partnership over time. Authors include community and university researchers. Recommendations for setting up and sustaining such a partnership are provided.

Professional Work in Remote Northern Communities: A Social Work Perspective

By Dr. Glen Schmidt, School of Social Work, University of Northern British Columbia 


It is a challenge to recruit and retain good employees. In northern and remote parts of Canada the challenge is readily apparent when it involves the recruitment and retention of professional workers. Part of the difficulty might be attributed to the urban base of most professional education programs. However, whether education is based in the urban south or in the north, it is important that students in professional education programs develop and learn what it is like to work in an isolated community. This article discusses some of the challenges that are unique to the personal aspect of professional practice in a northern environment. The challenges include factors such as high visibility, high accessibility, dual or multiple relationships, access to too much information, heightened scrutiny by community members, increased responsibility, and limited access to professional development. These challenges are common to a range of professions, but for the purposes of this discussion, they will be examined primarily from the perspective of social work. Examples are drawn from the author’s personal practice experience.

Drive Tourism: A Methodological Discussion with a View to Further Understanding the Drive Tourism Market in British Columbia, Canada

By Dr. Anne Hardy, Resource Recreation and Tourism Program, University of Northern British Columbia


Drive tourism, where people take leisure trips in their own or hired vehicles, is a rapidly growing sector of the tourism market in Canada, yet what is known about the phenomena is limited. This paper reviews existing research from a number of perspectives with a view to facilitating future research in the area. The review includes analysis of 1) who has conducted research into drive tourism; 2) what data has been sought; and 3) how it has been collected. The assessment reveals that data on drive tourism has been collected by three interest groups - government agencies, academic research institutions and industry bodies. Research has typically placed emphasis on the collection of data pertaining to demographic, planning, expenditure and behavioural characteristics, with the least emphasis being placed on psychographic characteristics and the impacts of drive tourism. It also found that the methods which have been used to collect the data have predominantly consisted of quantitative techniques such as surveys and questionnaires. The paper uses a revised version of the Yamada and Ham (2004) tool to assess methodological options for future research into drive tourism.

The Importance of University-Community Interaction: Community Involvement and Political Sustainability in Canada’s Publicly Funded Research and Teaching System 

By Dr. Peter Adams, PC, Professor Emeritus, Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario      


This paper is based on talks given and conversations had during a visit to the Community Development Institute at the University of Northern British Columbia. In it, the author makes the case for more active interaction between university researchers, elected officials at all levels, and communities in which universities are located. He draws on experience as an academic in the Parliament of Canada during and after the budget cuts of the 1990s which severely impacted the Canadian academic community. Progress made by the research community, since those times, is described. As the research system of Canada is more dependent on the public purse than that of any comparable nation, the paper argues that Canadian researchers should be particularly diligent in engaging politicians and the public.