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CRRF E-Newsletter
Student Research  Edition 2015
New Voices in Rural Research

Across Canada, the next generation of rural researchers are actively engaged in research on pressing social, economic, cultural and environmental policy issues facing rural communities in the 21st century. This e-newsletter profiles the work of ten graduate students from across the country studying the community impacts of labour mobility, youth resilience, source water protection, agricultural restructuring, youth migration to rural communities, rural immigration, drinking water infrastructure and development, and food cooperatives. CRRF is excited to share the work of these new voices who are engaging with communities, policymakers and industry to create new rural realities.


Joshua Barrett

MA candidate, Memorial University 

In the past decade, scholars (Hannam et al., 2006; Sheller and Urry, 2006) have identified a ‘mobilities shift’ observing increased levels, new forms, and different patterns of mobility among people, ideas, and knowledge. One type of mobility is Employment-Related Geographical Mobility (E-RGM) which is defined as people who commute for work away from their place of residence that involves more than 2 hours daily to more extended absences and journeys lasting weeks, months or even years. The purpose of my Masters research, which is part of the On the Move Partnership: Employment-Related Geographical Mobility in the Canadian Context 7-year SSHRC funded project, is to study the impacts of E-RGM on community development in source communities. There is minimal research about how mobile workers invest in community development in their places of residence. My research will fill this literature gap.

Simon Berge

PhD candidate, University of Guelph

Food retail co-operatives across Ontario are providing more than a new method for consumers to purchase food. The co-operative principle of democratic participation allows consumers to interact more fully within the food system. This research project examined nine food retail co-operatives across the province. One-hour, semi-structured, interviews were conducted with co-operative managers. The results from our research shows that co-operatives provide multiple opportunities for consumers to participate in the food system. Co-operatives offered food skills and educational programs that provided consumers with more information about food and food processing encouraging them to interact with food in new ways. The One Member: One Vote democratic principle allowed consumers to define what local food would be supplied by the co-operative. Volunteer voucher programs were offered allowing greater access to the food system. For more information on our research project please visit:

Sarah-Patricia Breen

PhD candidate, Simon Fraser University

Infrastructure has direct impacts on development, both positive and negative. Often this is an obvious link, such as how transportation infrastructure facilitates the movement of goods. With other types of infrastructure the link is perhaps less obvious. Drinking water is commonly discussed as a basic service, important for quality of life, yet its linkages with development can be overlooked. The quality, capacity, size, and shape of drinking water systems can influence how communities and regions plan and grow. Sarah’s PhD research explores drinking water infrastructure and development in detail. Her work includes i) the legacy of past approaches to development on water infrastructure, ii) the link between drinking water infrastructure and resilience, and iii) how emerging regional development theories may be able to inform better management of drinking water infrastructure in order to better support development and build resilience. For more information visit:

Bakhtawar Khan and Brianne Labute

University of Guelph and

Many rural communities are facing population decline and labor shortages, thereby creating challenges for their viability and sustainability. Attracting and retaining newcomers (both primary immigrants and secondary migrants) has been identified as a potential strategy to revitalize rural regions. A team of researchers working on the Rural Immigration Project, led by Dr. Wayne Caldwell at the University of Guelph, are documenting best practices from four counties across Ontario that have initiatives to attract, retain, and integrate immigrants. In order to uncover these best practices, we are conducting focus groups with newcomers along with key informant interviews with service providers and policy makers. Data collected to date points to the importance of strong relationships, political will, dedicated resources, collaboration, and research-based decision-making in order to inform programs and policies that contribute to successful immigrant attraction and retention. The project is still in its early stages, we encourage you to stay tuned for the final toolkit that will be found at: For more information, please contact Dr. Wayne Caldwell at

Maggie MacMichael

MA candidate, Dalhousie University

In order to gain a deeper understanding of migration and wellbeing in rural communities, this research goes beyond the dominant discourse of outmigration and focuses on young people who have moved into rural Nova Scotia. While there is some knowledge of potential motivations, less is known about their experiences. My research explores the motivations, experiences, and potential contributions of young people who have recently moved into two rural communities in Nova Scotia. In summer 2014, interviews were conducted with community leaders and young in-migrants in the Queens and East Hants Counties. At this time, data collection has been completed and interview transcripts are being analyzed for key themes. With this research, there is potential for policy and program recommendations for attracting and retaining young people to both live in and fully contribute to rural communities.

Shawn McEachern

MA candidate, Saint Mary's University 

Shawn McEachern’s current research attempts to present a more recent timeline describing the effects of continued agricultural restructuring in the Canadian Maritime provinces. The period of 1981-2011 is addressed on three different geographic scales of inquiry. First, the entire Maritime region is statistically analysed on a county basis, for regional variations of agricultural activity that have occurred in the last thirty years. Next, a number of selected Nova Scotia counties are addressed utilizing GIS software to determine the levels of farmland abandonment that have occurred over the last thirty years. This level of analysis utilizes forest cover data from Nova Scotia’s Department of Natural Resources and addresses the specific forest cover types associated with farmland abandonment. The third step will address localities where various levels of abandonment are indicated to have occurred. The end goal of this research is to both describe the regional variations of agricultural activity that have occurred recently and to suggest ways in which government policy can be better implemented to address the regions chiefly affected by farmland abandonment.

Sarah Minnes

Interdisciplinary PhD candidate, Memorial University

In Newfoundland and Labrador (NL), concerns have been raised about implementation of source water protection measures, including limited watershed planning and monitoring of water supplies that contribute to drinking water systems. Research suggests that many of these issues are linked to a lack of human, technical and financial capacity at the local level. In Ontario, the Clean Water Act (2006) was created specifically to build capacity in local areas so that they could better protect their drinking water. Source water protection under Ontario’s Act is designed to be an integrated, science-based approach, using multi-level governance structures to create Source Protection Plans on a watershed basis. Further research is needed into whether or not Ontario’s source water protection strategies have in fact been successfully implemented while building capacity in areas that were lacking. As a relatively new process, research is needed to examine if and how Ontario source water protection measures could potentially be transferred to other areas in Canada that suffer from capacity-related constraints in drinking water management. The proposed research will explore the successes and challenges with source water protection planning and implementation in Ontario, paying particular attention to the outcomes for capacity building and transferable lessons for NL. This research is affiliated with the Exploring Solutions for Sustainable Rural Drinking Water Systems research project. For more information on this research please see:

Heather Sansom

PhD candidate, University of Guelph

Rural communities in Canada are changing. These changes include widening socioeconomic gaps amongst community members, and degraded infrastructure. Normative adversity associated with youth transition to adulthood is magnified in rural areas, where community-level changes are creating ecological conditions that can adversely affect youth. This leads to need for youth programming that is pro-actively inclusive of resilience needs. Sport-for-development (S4D) explores sport as a vehicle for combining physical and psycho-social development. Studies often show benefits akin to resilience factors. Yet, there are gaps in the research, which create challenges for efforts to embed resilience goals in community recreation programs. There are very few S4D studies focused specifically on developing resilience amongst rural youth , and virtually no research that considers how program elements contribute to youth resilience. Equine-based therapy programs show resilience-related outcomes for youth, but non-therapy equine-assisted programs have not been studied extensively through a resilience lens, or as a community S4D option. This research will a) show connections between rural needs, equine activity, S4D, and resilience; b) describe the methods and hypotheses of a current research project exploring how youth experience protective factors for resilience through participation in non-therapy equine-assisted programs.

Kristina Welch

PhD candidate, Simon Fraser University

Rural economies in northern BC are undergoing significant change and uneven patterns of development due to the influence of globalization and cycles of resource development. As a result, labour and mobility patterns in BC are shifting as industries turn to long distance labour commuting (LDLC) to address their workforce needs. This trend towards LDLC is likely to have employment and community impacts that are differentiated by gender. For example, women may be discouraged from accepting employment in the resource industry because of the prevalence of shift work and rotations, which become a barrier to employment if childcare is only available during traditional working hours (i.e. 8am to 5pm) or not at all. Kristina’s PhD research explores what the implications are for women and their communities, including the impacts of LDLC on rural economies, how LDLC opportunities and impacts are gendered, and the strategies that women are pursuing related to employment and leadership in rural BC.

Become a Member of CRRF Today! 

January is the start of the CRRF membership year. Now in its third decade, CRRF is a proven rural resource, dedicated to active collaboration, undertaking, facilitating and advocating research for the ongoing development of Canada’s rural communities and environments. As an informal, volunteer run organization dedicated to the welfare of rural Canada it provides a host of benefits to an expanding membership. CRRF offers both a one-year membership ($30) and a five-year membership ($100). Membership runs from January – December.

If your membership has lapsed, you will receive an email shortly provide instructions for how to renew your members. 

Follow CRRF/FCRR ... 

Keep up to date on all CRRF/FCRR activities, news, and updates from across the country regarding rural and regional development by following CRRF/FCRR on our social media platforms. You can follow CRRF/FCRR on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn

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Upcoming Rural Events

6-8 March 2015 in Halifax, Nova Scotia

13-14 March 2015 in Prince George, British Columbia

16 March 2015 webinar hosted by the Association Polar Early Career Scholars

16-17 March 2015
Moncton, New Brunswick

17-19 March 2015
Winnipeg, Manitoba

9-11 April 2015
Montréal, Quebec

10-12 April 2015 in Annapolis County, Nova Scotia

April 30 - May 2, 2015
Corner Brook, Newfoundland

19-21 May 2015
Memphis, USA

6-9 August 2015 in Madison, USA

17-19 September 2015 in Summerside, Prince Edward Island co-hosted by CRRF and the North Atlantic Forum

Do you know of an upcoming rural or regional development event? Let us know and we will add it to our list of events (

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The Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation (CRRF) is a charitable institution committed to bettering the lives of rural Canadians. For more information about CRRF please visit You have received this communication as a past participant to a CRRF sponsored event.

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