Rural Canada is in a constant state of change. In recent years, many rural areas in more northern and remote regions of the country have experienced changes in their regional economies due to various kinds of resource development. These developments have ushered in new opportunities for growth, while also reigniting questions related to regional development, resource management, governance and co-govern- ance of resources at local/regional levels and with Aboriginal (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) peoples.

Rural Canada is ready to grow, but the following questions are critical to how we move forward:

  • Howdoweensurethatsomeofthebenefitsofthenaturalresourceindustriesremainwherethe resource is extracted?
  • What policies and practices need to be in place to ensure that there is a real and lasting positive legacy?
  • Whatgovernancestructureswillbestensurepositiveoutcomesforthoseresidingintheseregions?
  • What are the social ramifications of resource development and how can we mitigate those that are negative and build strong, resilience communities?

The Rural Canada: Ready to Grow conference brought together over a hundred representatives from rural and Aboriginal communities, municipalities, development organizations, the provincial government, the federal government, and private businesses as well as students and researchers. Rural Canada: Ready to Grow facilitated a diverse and lively conversation among community leaders, researchers, professional practitioners, government, and private industry about pressing questions facing rural Canada. Confer- ence participants from across the country came to Thunder Bay to share stories of rural and regional development. Electronic copies of the presentations delivered at the conferene can be found at www. crrf.ca/?page_id=2076.

The conference was co-hosted by the School of Outdoor Recreation, Parks, and Tourism at Lakehead University, Nishnawbe Aski Nation, and the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association.