Community Infrastructure & Economic Development
The Community Infrastructure & Economic Development theme group examines the priority infrastructure areas identified by our community partners - from soft infrastructure (such as childcare, healthcare, and employment programs) to physical infrastructure (such as housing, water and sewage, and schools).
Theme work explores the questions:
- When economic restructuring occurs in northern communities, who has the power to decide what type of infrastructure and economic development is prioritized?
- What types of infrastructure are most impacted by economic restructuring, especially resource extraction and development projects?
- How do changes to infrastructure affect northern women and their communities?
- How can diverse northern women be empowered to participate in discussions about infrastructure development and influence decision-making in their communities?
The key objective is development of a new holistic, gendered perspective on infrastructure that bridges the false division between social and economic infrastructure to see them as integrally related. For instance, this perspective sees childcare (typically categorized as serving a social function) as a necessary part of economic growth and development. In order to attract, train, and retain a labour force communities must have childcare services available for workers. Childcare then is not so much a fiscal drain as a necessary investment to strengthen our economy.
The theme group's work also explores the emerging concept in Canada that access to supportive infrastructure is a human right.
Workshop - Women from Northern Communities & Unions Joining for a Sustainable Future
In August 2014, the Community Infrastructure & Economic Development group brought women from northern and indigenous communities together with women involved in labour organizing to explore how to work in solidarity with one another. They produced a number of valuable resources from their shared learning, which we'll be sharing on our website as they become available. SEE MORE
FemNorthNet prepared this guide to help create sustainable futures for northern communities - futures that are built on solidarity and living in a good way with each other. We aim to help strengthen connections between northern and Indigenous communities and unions by encouraging inclusive conversations about big questions we all face, such as:
- How do communities “talk” to unions?
- What would attract Indigenous people in your community to a dialogue with unions?
- How can Indigenous knowledge become an integral part of the labour movement?
- How can unions contribute to decolonization? How can unions begin to decolonize themselves?
What is your most burning, powerful, or wicked question?
We hope this guide will help you feel prepared and inspired to encourage dialogue and creative actions in your communities, unions, and organizations. We hope that you will experience the power and possibility of community and union connection, in which the experiences of diverse northern women play a central role. (See our Workshop page for more information)
Theme Group Members
Susan Prentice, University of Manitoba
Teresa Healy, SIT Graduate Institute & Canadian Labour Congress