Economic Development

Meadow Lake Trading Area: Regional Economic Growth

In 2019, the Saskatchewan Economic Development Alliance commissioned the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy and Policy North to conduct an economic opportunity analysis of the Meadow Lake Trading area, which includes the City of Meadow Lake as the business hub in a region with a radius of 120 kilometers.


Advanced Manufacturing Sector in the Sub-Arctic Keeping Pace with the Innovation Race

The article explores the potential for development of the advanced manufacturing sector in the sub-Arctic regions of the eight Arctic nations: the U.S., Canada, Iceland, Demark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia. Northern manufacturers can be negatively affected, in varying degrees, by challenges that impede the growth of northern economies and the ability to integrate new innovative technologies into both products and processes. The polices of the Arctic nations recognize that the goal is to mitigate the penalizing effects of peripherality. Large-scale investments in northern infrastructure and high-tech training will help northern manufacturers compete more effectively at the local, regional, national and international levels.

Natural Resource Sector

Company Initiatives in the Western Canada Natural Resource Sector for Indigenous Recruitment, Training and Retention

There are close to 765,000 Canadians directly employed in the natural resources sector. Of these, more than 30,000 Indigenous people across Canada have a job in the mining, energy, and forestry industries. Although Indigenous people are routinely told that the resource sector is teeming with job opportunities, many Indigenous people are, for one reason or another, unable to take full advantage of these opportunities. For some, it may be a lack of basic education, while others cannot find apprenticeships, confront discriminatory hiring practices, or struggle with policies that do not support long-term employment and advancement. And, when an Indigenous person does find a job, one’s lack of proper training can mean that he or she is relegated to the lower ranks of a company’s workforce. Research indicates that successful approaches to connecting Indigenous peoples to resource sector opportunities are the product of governments, Indigenous communities, and industry working together.

First Nations Helping to Drive Natural Resource Development: Embracing Opportunity while Protecting Aboriginal Rights and Aboriginal Title

This paper reviews the evolving relationship between First Nations people and resource development. Aboriginal rights and title—recognized in Supreme Court legal cases—affirm the right of First Nations to maintain and protect the resources within their lands and water. Federal, provincial, and territorial governments are urged to make resource sharing with First Nations a priority as a means of reducing socio-economic disparities. While First Nations communities embrace natural resource development, they want to do so in a way that respects their culture, the land and the environment as well as their right to full participation. 

Renewable Energy Projects

Alternative Energy Options for North West Saskatchewan

Renewable energy, compressed natural gas, and liquified natural gas are often considered as alternative energy options for remote and isolated northern communities. Representatives of communities and villages in Northwest Saskatchewan showed clear dissatisfaction with power supply in the region, often citing unacceptably high costs, aging and unreliable instrastructure, and frequent power outages and failures. This report considers various types of alternative energy sources as potential solutions for the power supply issues in the Northwest Saskatchewan.

Suggested Path to Addressing Energy Poverty in Northern Saskatchewan

Detailed energy poverty data for the Northern Saskatchewan is missing. Taking into account much higher energy prices in the neighboring Northwest Territories and in the territorial north in general, as well as existing anecdotal evidence, energy insecurity in Northern Saskatchewan could be worse, possibly much worse, compared with the rest of the province. This report provides a general overview of the concept of energy poverty/insecurity, and suggests a plan of preparatory work that would allow Northern Saskatchewan communities to address energy insecurity.


Indigenous Trappers and the Fur Trade Debate

While the pro- and anti-sides of the trapping debate aim for a middle ground, the arguments for and against remain entrenched. For many northern Indigenous trappers, trapping is about more than commerce; it also taps into heritage and lifestyle. The conflicting opinions of fur industry representatives, animal-welfare activists and environmentalists as well as Indigenous trappers challenge each other to consider all aspects of this complex debate. While many Indigenous trappers are working to adapt to the changing market system, they are also trying to strike a balance between commerce and traditional identity.

Métis Commercial Fishing: Historical Overview of Métis Involvement in the Commercial Fishing Industry in Northern Saskatchewan

This paper discusses the importance of commercial fishing to the Métis community in Northern Saskatchewan, through an examination of the overarching history of the Métis people in the fishery and as middlemen in general in the larger context of the fur trade. The Métis People acted as independent agents frequently making mercantile decisions regarding trade and increasingly becoming involved in the geopolitics of trade relations. These trade interactions would emerge between the French (pre- 1760) and the British Hudson Bay Company (HBC, and then later with the British HBC and American fur trading companies in the Red River Valley of Manitoba). These findings accompany the legal review and the analysis of the perception of Métis commercial fishery industry participants as well as the general overview of research on the rights of the Métis people to commercially fishing in Saskatchewan.


Overview of Indigenous tourism in Northwest Saskatchewan

(More information to come.)

Post-event summary report — Westside Economic Development and Investment Attraction Conference 2019

(More information to come.)

Workforce: Education, Employment and Skill Development

Comparative Analysis of the North Saskatchewan and Yukon Indigenous Labour Markets, 2006-2020

The North is all too often seen as a homogenous region by southern Canadians and our Federal government, yet those of us living the northern reality we know that there are as many different Norths each with different socio-economic profiles and different needs and challenges. This short paper compares two of these “Norths” Yukon and the Far North of Saskatchewan.

Investing in Indigenous Workforce Skill Development: Federal and Provincial (Alberta, Saskatchewan) Initiatives

The Indigenous population has historically had lower labour force participation and employment rates than the non-Aboriginal population. Many Indigenous people face multiple barriers to employment including challenges related to education, literacy and essential skills, and job readiness. Federal, provincial, and local governments as well as the private sector are investing to help Indigenous people to overcome employment barriers and acquire the skills they need to better participate in the labour market. The purpose of the report is to draft an inventory of extant federal and provincial programs in Saskatchewan and Alberta that focus on Indigenous workplace training and preparation.

Fundamental Flaws in Federal Evaluation Processes: Performance Audit of Indigenous Employment Programs and Measuring Education Levels on First Nations Reserves

In 2018, the Auditor General of Canada conducted two performance audits. One audit focused on how the Aboriginals Skills and Employment Training Strategy (ASETS) and the Skills and Partnership Fund (SPF) are being managed properly to increase the number of Aboriginal people finding sustainable employment. A second audit reported on Canada’s overall progress in closing the socio-economic gaps between on-reserve First Nations people and other Canadians. Both audits had similar conclusions: Fundamental flaws in evaluation processes impedes the ability of government to know whether its Indigenous employment training programs are actually increasing the number of Indigenous people with stable jobs. Similarly, basic flaws in collecting comprehensive and accurate education data translates into frequent mischaracterizations about the education levels on First Nations reserves. In light of the recommendations offered by the audits, the federal government is committed to improving its ability to collect and analyze the data needed to effectively monitor Indigenous employment programs and measure on-reserve education outcomes.

Education, Employment, and Income Trends in Northern Saskatchewan 2006 and 2016 Profiles

The main data sources for the report are the 2016 and 2006 Census of Canada from Statistics Canada. The report looks at the education (i.e., high school and post-secondary graduation rates) employment rates, and income levels of northern Saskatchewan residents. The report profiles twenty-four towns, villages, and hamlets as well as eleven First Nations communities. The northern region holds vast resource potential in oil and gas, forestry, mining, and hydro-electric development. The significant unemployment and under-employment of today in northern Saskatchewan presents not only challenges but also opportunities. Research demonstrates that connecting northern residents to jobs will be the product of governments, Indigenous leaders and communities, and industry working together.


  • Catalogue of contacts of companies and research teams using 3D printing in construction
  • Statistical profiles for the Northwest 
  • Statistical profile on elections in the Athabasca area 
  • Overview of company initiatives in western Canada natural resource sector for Indigenous recruitment, training and retention
  • Catalogue of private sector and government services in Northwest Saskatchewan
  • Report on education, employment, and income trends in Northern Saskatchewan
  • Catalogue of grants in support of international collaborative meetings/workshops
  • Overview of funding opportunities for internet service provider in the region
  • Interactive map of Northern Saskatchewan
  • Energy poverty and insecurity research
  • Application for AFOA (Aboriginal Financial Officers Association of Canada) Award
  • Comprehensive bibliography of social sciences research in the Northern Saskatchewan region