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Research on social impacts of oil sands projects severely lacking: report

Department of Archaeology & Anthropology researchers find major shortcomings in the process surrounding megaproject approvals

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Research and assessments of the social impacts of Alberta oil sands projects have been woefully inadequate, argue Department of Archaeology & Anthropology researchers in a report released this fall.

For their SSHRC-funded report Taking Research Off the Shelf: Impacts, Benefits, and Participatory Processes around the Oil Sands Industry in Northern Alberta, postdoctoral fellow Tara Joly and Associate Professor Clint Westman examined the state of social science research surrounding approvals of megaprojects in the oil sands.

“Our report is the most comprehensive study to date on Indigenous issues in Canada's oil sands, including connections between environmental, social, cultural and health impacts. We point to serious concerns around consultation, impact assessment and monitoring processes,” said Westman.

The authors identify a need for more peer-reviewed research that engages communities affected by oil sands development. Some research areas with the greatest need for action include women’s and youth’s experiences, Indigenous labour relations and economic benefits/losses.

The results of the study were presented at a SSHRC event in Ottawa in September, and the report is currently being shared with affected First Nation and Métis communities and organizations in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

“We hope our report will be useful to communities in mobilizing knowledge and developing their strategies and responses,” Westman said.

The complete report can be downloaded here: Taking Research off the Shelf_Joly and Westman KSG report.pdf


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