Economic Impact of Research and Field Courses in Churchill
Ryan K. Brook Ph.D
Indigenous Land Management Institute and Department of Animal and Poultry Science
College of Agriculture and Bioresources, University of Saskatchewan
Wapusk News - Volume 6, 2013
The University of Saskatchewan – University of Manitoba annual field course involves teaching students how to organize and conduct northern fieldwork, including purchasing all of the food and supplies needed for one week in Wapusk National Park. © Ryan Brook
The town of Churchill plays an important role in supporting the many researchers and students who pass through the town every year, working on a wide range of studies and field courses. What are the benefits of all this activity to the people of Churchill? One measure is the economic contribution to businesses in Churchill. Researchers and students rely on the town of Churchill in many diverse ways, but there has not yet been a systematic study of all of the economic benefits of this relationship. So, as a starting point I decided to summarize all of the expenditures of Wildlife and Ethnoecology of the Manitoba Coastal Region, a joint University of Manitoba - University of Saskatchewan field course that I have taught every August since 2004. Students and course instructors are based out of the Churchill Northern Studies Centre and spend approximately one week at Nester One camp in Wapusk National Park (NP).
Students participating in the University of Saskatchewan – University of Manitoba field course at Nester One camp in Wapusk National Park rely heavily on the food and supplies purchased in Churchill and are eager to buy souvenirs in town before leaving. The overall economic impact this two-week course has on the town of Churchill is $25,500 in direct spending every year. © Ryan Brook
The field course relies on many services from the town of Churchill. These include a range of activities with local tour operators; presentations by Aboriginal elders and other community members; transportation, including helicopter flights and fuel to travel into Wapusk NP; restaurant meals; hardware and supplies, ranging from batteries to bolts to band-aids; and an extremely large order of groceries and fresh bread to satisfy 20 hungry people while they are in the park. Additionally, students eagerly purchase souvenirs of their once-ina- lifetime trip to the Churchill region. In total, during an average year, this one field course spends $25,500 in Churchill during two weeks in August. Overall, during the past nine years the course has spent a total of $230,000 directly in Churchill. The joke is made that researchers and students only come into town to buy beer, but the analysis shows that research and field courses such as this one rely on the town in important ways that benefit both the research and teaching as well as bringing value to the town.
The purchase of goods and services in Churchill has two benefits. First, it supports employment for the people in Churchill who provide the goods and services. Secondly, there is a “multiplier effect” in that this employment helps to provide income for the people of Churchill, who in turn spend money on goods and services in the town. Everyone, including the researchers and students, benefits.