Policy Briefs


“Small but Ambitious”. Artisanal Sole fishery improvement and certification initiative in The Gambia, West Africa

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By: Richard A. Nyiawung

The Gambia is one of the smallest countries in Africa with a total population of about 2.1million. Artisanal fishing is a significant economic activity and livelihood with many men and women employed in the sector. The country has seven major fishing landing sites along the River Gambia and its Atlantic Ocean coast (Fatajo, Tobey & Drammeh, 2010). Fish is an integral part of Gambian protein dietary intake and contributes to more than 40% of their protein supply (Ragusa, 2015). Read more>>

Connecting Rural Canada. A Digital New Deal for Rural Canada: Exploring Opportunities for Local Governments to Invest in Critical Broadband Infrastructure

By: Ashleigh Weeden

The pronounced digital divide between rural and urban communities in Canada remains a persistent and challenging issue despite decades of program announcements and policy statements. Faced with this challenge, how can local governments build their futures through investing in this critical infrastructure and promote a digital new deal for rural Canada? This policy brief provides critical background information and ideas to help local government leaders and policy makers in rural areas explore opportunities for working both within current policy and funding frameworks (wherever possible) and around these frameworks, where they are either insufficient or create barriers to building broadband infrastructure in a timely or effective manner. Read more>>

Drinking Water Contamination and Cancer in Canada and USA

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By: Xie Lusi

The contamination of drinking water causes local and global public health problems, such as cancer. Although policymakers pay particular attention to the health impacts of drinking water contamination, they face challenges in reducing associated health risks for better management of drinking water. This policy brief uses ACSRC Report Series # 50-18 “Drinking Water Contamination & Cancer in Canada and USA: A Review” that reviews and analyzes 64 published studies. The purpose of this policy brief is to provide a summary and recommendations on assessing the health impacts of drinking water contamination. Read more>>.

Ontario’s Agricultural Policies and Sustainable Agricultural Systems for Large-scale and Small-scale Farmers

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By: James Newlands
There is a growing argument that smaller-scale farms can produce healthy and affordable food to the surrounding local communities more effectively than large-scale farmers can. It is further argued these small-scale farmers have an equally as important role in the creation of a sustainable agricultural system, as large-scale farmers, by participating in local food initiatives.The research expects these increased local food initiatives would contribute to a food secure province through the diversity of the farming operations and local food options made available to communities. Read more>>

Considering Climate Change in Rural Planning and Policy

Climate Change, Drought, Climate, Dry
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Presenters/panellists: Sean Manners, Hope Olusanya, Conor Curtis, Nick Mercer
Policy brief authors: Sean Manners, Conor Curtis

Climate change policies such as mitigation projects have often resulted in inequitable outcomes at the community level. Our research has shown so far that human rights violations related to climate mitigation projects often go undocumented due to the complexities of international implementation
of these projects, allowing for governments to bypass democratic checks and balances on state power. Read more>>

An Analysis of Reconciliation Agreements in British Columbia

By: Jonathan Boron

In 2005, the province of British Columbia, along with BC First Nations leadership, developed a NEW RELATIONSHIP VISION that was based on three core tenets: respect, recognition and accommodation of rights and title; respect for each other’s laws and responsibilities; and the reconciliation of Aboriginal and Crown titles, and jurisdictions. This policy brief provides results and recommendations from a qualitative document analysis on current Reconciliation Agreements, and Reconciliation Framework Agreements, that determine their ability to meet the three interests of First Nations governments: Read more>>

Indigenous Food Sovereignty in Canada

By: Penner, Kevany, Longboat

Indigenous Nations in Canada have and continue to deal with a colonial food system that leaves many of these nations located in, what can be best described, as food wastelands, and at worst, imposes a lifetime sentence to a food prison (Finley, 2014). As we walk toward a path of reconciliation, it would be wise to acknowledge that Indigenous people had a well-developed, complex and thriving social-economic systems prior to colonial contact. Recognizing the depth of their intra-generational knowledge and deep understanding of the land can facilitate the development of a meaningful national and Indigenous food policy. Read More >>


The Role of Domestic In-migrants for the Revitalization of Marginal Island Communities in the Seto Inland Sea of Japan

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By Simona Zollet & Meng Qu

This brief summarizes the preliminary findings of a research project on domestic urban-to-rural migration to the islands of the Seto Inland Sea, Japan. We focus on in-migrants who established small independent businesses on the islands, and particularly those engaged in tourism, creative industries and organic farming. The study explores the motivations, challenges and opportunities associated with living and establishing small businesses in island communities, and the implications for wider processes of revitalization of marginal rural areas. Read more>>

From Immigrant-Friendly to Immigrant-Competent: Improving the Immigrant “Dating Game” of Smaller Communities

By: Marc Valade

This policy brief draws on my doctoral research, which studies how stakeholders in two smaller cities, Brandon, MB and Rimouski, QC, mobilized their capacity to implement immigrant attraction and retention strategies. The case studies build on in-depth interviews, network data, archival sources, and census data. Preliminary findings reveal three intertwined conditions for smaller communities to become more immigrant-competent: Municipal-backed leadership, employer engagement, and a continuum of immigrant-aware services.  Click Here for the material.

Refugees Discuss their Settlement Experience in New Brunswick

Author: Mikael Hellstrom

New Brunswick is the only province in Canada with a declining population. The provincial government considers this demographic issue a primary concern  (Government of New Brunswick, 2014) and sees refugee reception as a potential way to break this trend. This ambition prompted the provincial government to welcome almost 1500 Syrian refugees to Fredericton, Moncton and Saint John beginning in 2015 (Government of Canada, 2017). Click Here for details.

Refugee Mental Health Practice in Rural Communities: Understanding Cross-Cultural Differences

Author: Lavan Kandiah

Current Canadian data on Syrian refugee resettlement indicates that while Canada’s major metropolitan areas are hosting the majority of arrivals, smaller and rural communities are also taking in large numbers (Government of Canada, 2017). The availability of settlement services, including mental health treatment and specialized services, is substantially lower in rural areas than in Canada’s larger urban centers (Ashton, Pettigrew, & Galatsanou, 2016; Canadian Mental Health Association, 2009). Click Here for the material.

Newcomer Integration and Educating Canadians

By: Michelle Lam

The first MIRRA Research/Policy Brief is published by Michelle Lam entitled “Newcomer Integration and Educating Canadians”. This research brief provides an in-depth analysis of the recent board game tool entitled Refugee Journeys: Identity, intersectionality and Integration which is a tool that can educate Canadians more specifically about integration experiences.The game was developed with the goal of educating Canadians about newcomer experiences. For full content of the Brief: CLICK HERE


The Case for Using Green Infrastructure as a Planning Tool to Build Resilient Rural Communities


By: Paul Kraehling

Rural areas often face challenges around many intertwined issues involving economic, social and environmental circumstances. Although it is hard to generalise across diverse rural settings, there are often common situational problems. For example, rural inhabitants exhibit poor health outcomes relative to their urban neighbours (obesity, chronic diseases); rural communities face demographic challenges (loss of overall population due to general societal changes; an aging population with youth out-migration). Read more>>

Watershed Governance or Intake Governance? Implications of Ontario’s Clean Water Act on Collaborative Watershed Governance in Rural Areas

By: Sarah Minnes

The inquiry report Watershed Governance in Rural Areas , following the Walkerton tragedy, found that a lack of source water protection was a key contributor to the contamination of Walkerton, Ontario’s municipal drinking water supply (Christensen, 2011). This finding led to stricter source water protection legislation and new governance structures for source water supplies in Ontario through the Clean Water Act, 2006 (Murray & de Loe, 2012). Source water protection under Ontario’s Act was designed to be an integrated, science-based approach, using multilevel governance structures to create source protection plans on a watershed basis (Ontario Ministry of Environment, 2006). Read more>>

An Evaluation of British Columbia’s Liquefied Natural Gas Economic Policies

By: Cameron Gunton

The government of British Columbia (BC) has endorsed the development of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry to export to Asia (Government of BC, Office of the Premier, 2018a). A major reason for this endorsement was the high revenue-raising potential of LNG. Historically, the price of LNG in Asia was significantly higher than the price of natural gas in Canada (Figure 1). The BC provincial government saw the development of an LNG industry as a way to generate provincial revenue through various economic policies and fiscal mechanisms, including taxes and royalties, and cited the establishment of a $100 billion Prosperity Fund with the goal of ensuring communities, First Nations, and all citizens of BC would benefit from LNG projects (Government of BC, Office of the Premier, 2013). Read more>>

Polycentric Governance in Climate Change Policies

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By: Lissel Hernandez Gongora

The impacts of climate change are more evident everywhere. Rural people who depend on climate-sensitive resources (e.g. water supplies, farming land) are among the more vulnerable population affected by climate events such as heat waves, heavy precipitation, long droughts and intense hurricanes which have been more frequent around the world. In the first decade of the 21st century, Elinor Ostrom proposed Polycentric Governance as an effective approach to address global environmental problems such as climate change. Read more>>

Six lessons on farmland preservation from Oregon, USA

By: Laura Schreiner and Dr. John Devlin

Oregon has had notable success in protecting its agricultural lands from development using land use planning, and is often held up as a model in the North American context (Gosnell et al., 2011). Oregon’s experience is particularly interesting in the Willamette Valley, a small area which contains some of Oregon’s best agricultural land and the majority of its population.Although it makes up less than 14% of Oregon’s land area, the Willamette Valley is home to almost three quarters of Oregon’s population – 2.8 million people – and three of its largest cities: Portland, Eugene, and Salem, the state capital (United States Census Bureau, 2016a and 2016b). Despite this density, the Willamette Valley remains intensely agricultural. Read more>>

Ontario’s Clean Water Act and Implications for Rural Serviced Municipalities

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By: Sarah Minnes

The Clean Water Act in Ontario was instituted after the Walkerton tragedy, as part of the suite of recommendations made by Justice O’Connor in the Walkerton Inquiry (Baird, Plummer, Morris, Mitchell, & Rathwell, 2014; de Loë, Murray, Michaels, & Plummer, 2016; O’Connor, 2002). During the Walkerton tragedy seven people died and 2300 became seriously ill due to a contaminated municipal water supply (de Loë et al., 2016; Livernois, 2002). Under the Clean Water Act source protection committees (with a wide range of stakeholders) created source protection plans on a watershed basis, with the assistance of the source protection authorities (conservation authorities), and the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (who led and has overseen the entire process) (Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, 2017; Ontario Ministry of Environment, 2006). Read more>>