About CIRC

The Cumulative Impacts Research Consortium (CIRC) is a research and outreach initiative at the University of Northern British Columbia’s (UNBC) Prince George campus. CIRC is collaboratively led by the Health Research Institute (HRI), the Community Development Institute (CDI), and the Natural Resources and Environmental Studies Institute (NRESi), with funding support from the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions and the BC Oil and Gas Commission (administered through UNBC’s Office of Research). CIRC was established as a result of a 2014 event at UNBC exploring the topic of cumulative impacts on northern communities.

You can download a one-page description of CIRC with our contact information below:

For an overview of the CIRC's research and outreach activities, we invite you to review our 2016 and 2017 Annual Reports, found below:


What are cumulative impacts?

Natural resource development often has implications that reach far into the future. CIRC’s activities seek to discern the differences between the ‘effects’ of resource development—that is, the direct and typically observable changes resulting from a decision or project—and the ‘impacts’ which may flow from a single effect or combination of effects. ‘Cumulative impacts’ may occur when resource development is imposed on past land use and development activities in ways that leave lasting consequences for people, their communities, and the broader environments in which those communities are located.  Examples of such impacts on the environment, communities and human health might include:
  • Environment: reductions in streamflow volume due to municipal or industrial water withdrawal
  • Community: changing patterns of investment and divestment in community infrastructure and social services associated with the boom and bust of natural resource operations
  • Health: increases in the incidence of harmful algal blooms and drinking water contamination from rising temperatures associated with global climate change

In other words, impacts unfold over long time horizons. To put it bluntly, cumulative impacts are what we live and experience on a daily basis as informed by historical decisions and land use.


Our Mission

CIRC’s mission is to provide a platform for dialogue and research on the cumulative impacts of resource development across northern BC from environmental, community, and health perspectives.

CIRC will aim to achieve its mission through a range of research and community outreach activities. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Engaging with and addressing community concerns through a variety of engagement venues including town halls, policy forums, and workshops
  • Using community concerns to generate original research on cumulative impacts that is forward-looking and solutions-oriented
  • Translating knowledge on cumulative impacts into a framework for future research and policy development

Organization, Governance and People

CIRC is governed by a Project Lead, a Steering Committee, and an Advisory Committee.


CIRC Research Lead

Marieka Sax is a Research Associate with the CIRC and holds a PhD and MA in Anthropology from Carleton University. She was born in Saskatchewan, grew up on Vancouver Island, and spent several years in Peru conducting research on indigeneity, traditional medicine, rural production, and community relations around resource extraction. Marieka brings a commitment to making sense of the particular in relation to wider webs of significance in her current work on resource development in British Columbia.


CIRC Steering Committee

The CIRC Steering Committee provides strategic oversight to all of CIRC’s research projects and engagement activities. The Steering Committee is comprised of faculty and research representatives from the HRI, CDI, and NRESi, the UNBC PICS representative, and the CIRC Project Lead. 

Current members of the CIRC Steering Committee include:


CIRC Advisory Committee

The Advisory Committee is a pan-northern group of committed and engaged individuals that provide advice to the Project Lead and Steering Committee. The Advisory Committee shares diverse perspectives, experience and knowledge from First Nations, government, civil society, industry and the public to provide insight into how to best carry out CIRC’s research and outreach activities. The Advisory Committee is chaired by the CIRC Project Lead. The Advisory Committee currently includes Andy Ackerman, Charl Badenhorst, Joan Chess, Nicole Cross, John Disney, Sandra Harris, Lana Lowe, Alan Madrigga, Wayne Salewski, Rob Spitzer, and Viva Wolf.