Master’s grad heads to Yellowknife to study “social economy”

Community-based institutions such as church groups, seniors’ organizations, sports associations and Aboriginal networks are the glue that hold a Northern community together, according to Carleton graduate Jerry Sabin.

And the development of this “social economy,” as researchers refer to these types of organizations, is understudied in the North, he says.

After earning a bachelor of public affairs and policy management in 2007, Sabin, 23, went on to pursue the field of public administration. Now, as he graduates with his master’s, he is heading off to the edge of the Arctic to examine the development of social economy institutions in Yellowknife.

There, he will spend the summer sifting through the archives of municipal and territorial correspondence dating back to the founding of the city on the shores of Great Slave Lake, known for its adventure and prosperity and an unusual blend of northern culture.

Sabin, who became interested in northern policy and sustainable urban development through Prof. Frances Abele in the School of Public Policy and Administration at Carleton, will interview members of the Legislative Assembly, small business owners and “old-timers” about the organizations they have been involved with over the years.

“Yellowknife,” says Sabin, “has an interesting oral history I want to explore. I’ve heard it’s a beautiful place and I’m looking forward to meeting the people who have built their lives there and done such interesting work in the North.

“I think the North is a very important and integral part of Canada and I think it’s understudied and misunderstood. As southerners and researchers, it’s important we take the opportunity to gain a better understanding of the North.”

Sabin’s work is part of a much larger project being conducted by Abele with funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

The research, Sabin says, will contribute to a book being prepared by Abele and to a couple of journal articles on Yellowknife’s social economy before it was named the capital of the Northwest Territories and afterwards.

Sabin believes his pursuit of public administration and political science would never have happened at any other university.

“There’s a wonderful community of researchers in northern policy at Carleton and in Ottawa, as well as the right access to the North. I wouldn’t have found myself in this field if I hadn’t gone to Carleton. And I wouldn’t be the researcher I am today without the guidance and help of Professor Abele.”

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Susan Hickman

By Susan Hickman

For nearly four decades, journalist Susan Hickman has written about every imaginable subject for sundry newspapers and magazines in Canada and abroad, as well as for CBC TV and CBC Radio. She has also managed various publications, including academic newspapers and technology magazines, and was recently commissioned to write a guide for foreign missions serving in Canada. Currently, she is working on a couple of personal memoirs.

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