UNBC professors pen book about changing economy in Northern B.C.

UNBC's Research Laboratory.UNBC's Research Laboratory.

PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. – Six professors in anthropology, economics and political science at the University of Northern B.C. have authored a new book, which explores how the north is ‘being pulled into the national and international spotlight as the global markets for energy and resources continue to change.’

“Resource Communities in a Globalizing Region” is a collaboration co-edited by Dr. Paul Bowles and Dr. Gary Wilson.

In the book, they explore the changing economy of the region and its relationship with China and other Asian countries before launching into a discussion of how the residents of Northern B.C., including First Nations, are trying to gain control over the development of their region.

Dr. Paul Bowles told Energetic City they wanted to know the elements of continuity in Northern B.C.’s functions within other markets.

“There has, of course, been a shift into which markets the Northern part of the province has been integrating, so now it’s more to do with Asia than it has been in previous periods — particularly in the post-war period when it was more integrating in the U.S. market. So that’s a shift, and that’s brought changes with it,” he said.

“We’re seeing much more invested East-West flows across the province as previously much of the direction was North-South. So that’s one change, as in the direction of flows of goods.

He adds that another change that has been apparent is the way the government has opened up Northern B.C. for greater trade opportunities.

“But at the same time,” he said, “It’s done so within a framework that has placed few limits on this. Whereas in the past, the government was much more interventionist then, taking particular measures to ensure many of the towns that now populate northern B.C. were based on local processing of resources.”

He stresses a visible shift in the idea of social license, First Nations concerns about land claims and Aboriginal titles coming into the main spotlight, and communities voicing for themselves what they want in terms of economic development.

“It’s the question of ‘How do communities mobilize to ensure that their voices are heard?’, in terms of making sure that they benefit from what’s going on and they have the right to say no to projects which they don’t want.”

Dr Bowles references communities that have asked for their fair share of tax revenues, which is relevant to the Peace River Agreement the Provincial government has with municipalities Peace Region.

“I think their is a much greater awareness now of the importance of what is going on in the North, not simply as an area sources are to be extracted and the profits shipped elsewhere, but it’s where real decisions and real choices are being made and are important for all our futures.”

UNBC economist Dr. Fiona MacPhail, political scientists Dr. Tracy Summerville and Dr. John Young and the late Dr. Jim McDonald of the Anthropology Department also contributed to the book.

The book is dedicated to the memory of Dr. McDonald and all royalties from the sale of the book will go to the Dr. James McDonald Memorial Fund.