Northern Voices: A Look Inside Political Attitudes and Behaviours in Northern Saskatchewan

The International Centre for Northern Goverance and Development released a report, summarizing the findings of a three-year study into northern Aboriginal political culture. Northern Voices: A Look Inside Political Attitudes and Behaviours in Northern Saskatchewan was authored by Bonita Beatty (ICNGD Executive Member), Greg Poelzer (ICNGD Chair), and Loleen Berdahl (ICNGD Member) with graduate student support.

This research project studies how Aboriginal populations in Northern Saskatchewan engage in political processes and the factors that explain these patterns of engagement. Telephone survey data were collected between November 9, 2010 and December 21, 2010. Of the 851 respondents, 505 were Aboriginal.

Lower turnouts in federal and provincial elections suggest that Northern Aboriginal people are politically disengaged, a finding that this study modifies by revealing different forms and levels of political activity.

It is clear that northern Aboriginal people see local government as being both relevant and responsive – and more likely to return direct benefits to them or their families – but view provincial and federal politics as being distant and much less immediate. They may be less engaged in the broader politics, because current political structures are believed to suit national and southern purposes more than northern or Aboriginal needs.

Limited engagement by Aboriginal youth is particularly worrying, given the growing importance of this cohort in northern society. The elderly and low-income individuals are likewise under-represented in both voting and volunteer activities.

Overall, this report provides the most detailed analysis available to date of the key elements in Aboriginal political engagement in the North and offers an optimistic portrait of the opportunity for greater Indigenous participation and more effective community collaboration.

Click on the following link to access the full report:

Greg Poelzer

Greg M. Poelzer

Executive Chair, ICNGD and Fulbright Arctic Initiative Scholar

Dr. Greg Poelzer is a Professor in the School of Environment and Sustainability (SENS) at the University of Saskatchewan. He the Co-Lead of the Fulbright Arctic Initiative III program. He is the Co-Director of a multi-million dollar SSHRC Partnership Grant (2019-2026), Community Appropriate Sustainable Energy Security (CASES), which spans 17 Indigenous and Northern communities across Canada, Alaska, Norway, and Sweden. He also is the Lead of the Renewable Energy in Remote and Indigenous Communities Flagship Initiative at the University of Saskatchewan and Lead of the UArctic Thematic Network on Renewable Energy.

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