Research Relationships: Collaboration, Reflection, and Sustainability in a Northern Canadian Resource Town


  • Marleny Bonnycastle University of Manitoba
  • Maureen Simpkins University College of the North



First published advance online January 27, 2020
The focus of this article is to share and reflect on our collaborative teaching, research, and community engagement experiences in the context of the Provincial North. We believe the university has a critical role to play in collaborative participatory research. This is particularly crucial when working in remote and northern communities in Canada that have been impacted by colonization and systemic issues such as racism and economic dependency on natural resource exploitation where prices fluctuate due to international demand. We describe our experiences and methods of teaching, learning, and community engagement through which students, faculty, and community members engaged in community based participatory research (CBPR). The focus of this work was on the inclusion of community voices in order to share local knowledge and make decisions about future development. In this article we first describe the geographical and socio-economic context of Northern Manitoba, Canada, and the City of Thompson. We then describe the methods used (appreciative inquiry, community café consultations, photovoice, participatory mapping) to include the voices of northern female students, as well as those experiencing homelessness, in order to be included in decisions about future initiatives and programs. We conclude with reflections on our experiences of the processes of using CBPR and on its potential contribution to sustainable development (Hall & Tandon, 2017), the importance of university-community engagement, and the contributions that can also potentially extend to communities across the Provincial North.

Author Biographies

Marleny Bonnycastle, University of Manitoba

... associate professor with the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Manitoba

Maureen Simpkins, University College of the North

... associate profeesor with the Department of Aboriginal and Northern Studies at the University College of the North in Thompson, Manitoba.






Place Based Sustainability Research in the Provincial North