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Participatory Governance in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut

Funding: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council
Term: April 2009 to April 2012
Team: Steve Jacob (Chief Researcher), Thierry Rodon (Scientific Contributor) 


This research project will study the contribution of participatory governance to the economic and social development of the Canadian North through the prism of participatory processes of policy/program elaboration and evaluation.

Our research studies the place, the characteristics and the issues of participatory governance in Northern communities, specifically those in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Particular attention will be paid to public program beneficiaries and the citizens of communities in the involved territories. The analysis will also focus on the concrete effects and spin-offs in terms of decision appropriation, use of results and reinforcement of the ability of involved parties to take responsibility in projects that concern them.


The research will be conducted in close relation to the parties involved in the aforementioned territories through a joint iterative approach where citizens become active players in the definition of the research questions and the process.

steering committee will be established to assure coherence and to facilitate the carrying-out of the project; to orient and validate the research instruments; and to participate in the analysis, the reproduction and the distribution of results.  It will be made of two ad-hoc committees in each of the territories, each with the specific mission to participate in the interpretation of the data and results.

The methodology hinges on qualitative instruments in the form of interviews and focus groups, reflection and discussion seminars and quantitative instruments (questionnaires).  The following main steps are anticipated:

◊ Producing an overview of participatory governance in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut;

◊ Examining two in-depth case studies of the participatory governance process in the North and its effects on the following themes:  participatory policy elaboration (Case #1) and participatory evaluation (Case #2).  For each of these cases, four processes of participatory governance will be studied (two for each territory).  The analysis will be conducted in a comparative perspective.  For each of the processes studied, a reflection and exchange seminar, a complete review of program documents, interviews, discussion groups and observation sessions will be conducted.  Participant accounts on the effects and impacts of participatory governance will also be collected by:

◊ Organizing a final discussion seminar to present the results and lessons learned from the research; and

◊ Compiling a detailed synthesis for each case study and each unit of analysis.  An overall analysis will be produced highlighting the lessons from the research. Finally, a practical guide will be created for communities, summarizing the main lessons from the research and highlighting identified good practices.  

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