socio-economic issues facing northern communities

socio-economic issues facing northern communities

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The purpose of this assignment is to twofold:
(i) Encourage discovery and critical thinking about socio-economic issues facing northern communities; and,
(ii) Practice the art of writing a briefing note, a critical skill for all those employed by the government.

The written assignment is due Tuesday, February 4, 2014 at 1:00pm (before class). The briefing note will be submitted to the drop box on nexus. It must be typed, and saved in Microsoft word (doc or docx) or rich text format (rtf).

Assignment details:

You work for the Honourable Bernard Valcourt, the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada . You must prepare a briefing note for the Minister addressing one of the following issues:
• The housing crisis facing many northern reserves;
• Food insecurity north of 60°;
• The position that the northwest passage falls within internal waters; or
• The implications of the Idle No More movement.

While a typical briefing note is usually 1 or 2 pages, you are permitted to use 3 pages (excluding reference list ), single- spaced, 12 point times new roman font, with a margin of no more than 2.4 centimetres.

Although briefing notes typically do not include in-text citation, as this is a University, you will be required to cite, as necessary. However, DO NOT USE DIRECT QUOTES IN THIS MATERIAL. PLEASE SUMMARIZE IDEAS IN YOUR OWN WORDS!

• Begin your briefing note a section entitled Issues. This should be 1 -2 sentences in length. This section should clearly state the topic covered by the briefing note, and in doing so, inform the minister as to why this topic is of critical importance.
• The second section, key messages, should be 1 – 4 bullets in length. The key message outlines the position you wish the Minister to take. Be as specific as you can.
• The third section is addresses Background. This section can be broken down, as needed, but should outline the issue in greater detail, and lead the Minister to the conclusion you have laid out in issue and key messages.
• You may wish to include a section entitled, Recommendations. This section would discuss measures the government should take, if it implements the position advocated in the briefing note. This section is optional.
• Finish with a section entitled, For Further Information (which for this purpose, will serve as your references cited list; as such, it should follow APA 6th edition format.

Please submit your assignment electronically on nexus. Your files should be in microsoft word or rich text format.

Helpful hints:
• When collecting data, make sure you use the consult a variety of sources, both peer reviewed (where available), government websites, and media. Make sure you go beyond the material provided in the text! Start by reviewing the information available at Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development. PLEASE DO NOT USE WIKIPEDIA AS A SOURCE OF INFORMATION.

Below, I list some places you may wish to start for each topic. Please note that more recent topics will have fewer scholarly sources. This will make your data collection more challenging.
• The housing crisis facing many northern reserves;
• Assembly of First Nations (housing)
• Scholarly journals, including the Canadian Journal of Urban Research
• Media, most recently surrounding Attawapiskat
• Food insecurity north of 60°
• Nutrition North
• Scholarly articles discussing “food mail” and “northern food security”
• Media coverage critiquing changes
• The position that the northwest passage falls within internal waters;
• Many, many recent scholarly articles and books discussing this topic (see Michael Byers, Ken Coates, etc.)
• CBC has an excellent synopsis
• The implications of the Idle No More movement.
• Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (
• CBC also has a synopsis on this topic
• Media

• Writing a briefing note is a rather challenging task because you have very little space to explore some key messages. Make sure to give yourself extra time to edit your assignment so that you stay within the page requirements.

The assignment will be graded based on clarity, the ability to focus on key issues, demonstration of issues explored in class, and mechanics, among others.


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