Technological Transitions in the Far North: Yukon People’s Difficult but Transformative Relationship with Technology
Rowles, Shelagh Marie
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This interdisciplinary study of technological change in Canada's Yukon Territory investigates the impact of technologies introduced into Yukon. It examines the capacity of governments, businesses and citizens to adopt and adapt new technologies beginning in the early 20th century and carries the examination through to Yukon's contemporary construction and mining sectors. The study contends that throughout the 20th century, the federal government supported the introduction of new technologies in Yukon's mining and construction sectors to establish a Southern presence in the territory and to access mineral resources needed to fuel the government's interests in expanding economies in Southern Canada and did little to build local capacity to use or modify new technologies to suit the interests of Northern people. Little consideration was given to the social and environmental implications of large-scale mining or the application of construction technologies designed for Southern environments in Yukon. Further, it argues that the introduction of co-created and Yukon specific legislation, the Yukon Environmental Socio-economic Assessment Act (YESAA) in 2006, changed how Southern centric technologies were introduced in Yukon and inspired governments and businesses in Yukon to experiment with North-centric innovation. Nevertheless, the study argues that increased competition from national and multi-national companies, a shortage of high-end technical expertise in the territory, and the poor state of its rural education system left Northern people vulnerable to disruption and marginalization from the global economy. The North is not, however, merely a sub-Arctic variant of southern innovation environments. People, governments and businesses are searching -- with uneven success -- for innovations specifically designed for the northern setting, which contribute to improved well-being in the territory. This study describes the gap between southern-centric innovation concepts and the interplay of Northern innovation with the geographical, economic and social realities of the North, suggesting that the potential exists for the development of a northern-focused innovation ecosystem in Yukon and across the Canadian North.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
CommitteeNoble, Bram; Holroyd, Carin; Swanson, Lee; Zhang, David; Longo, Justin
Copyright DateDecember 2020
Yukon, Innovation, Technology