The impact of technology on the Yukon

Dr. Shelagh Rowles

Dr. Shelagh Rowles has completed her Ph.D. on how the Yukon has responded to new technologies over time - from communication and transportation technologies used during the Gold Rush to technologies used in today’s mining and construction sectors.    

Shelagh oversees the Centre for Northern Innovation in Mining and the Continuing Studies Division at YukonU. She wanted to understand Yukon’s history with technology so we can build our capacity; and use it to serve our social, economic and environmental interests. 

Shelagh found that technology has had a varied impact on the Yukon from the early 20th century and into today. For instance, from the Klondike Gold Rush to the signing of the Umbrella Final Agreement in the early 90’s, the federal government used technologies to assert southern interests in the North and to use northern resources to fuel the economies in southern Canada. Little was done to build local capacity or to use technologies to serve northern people's interests. 

The introduction of co-created and transformative legislation, such as the Yukon Environmental Socio-economic Assessment Act and the Yukon Act, helped shift the use of technology in the North from a colonial pursuit to northern self-determination, with local governments and businesses searching for innovations that benefit the North. Shelagh’s dissertation examines the gaps that need to be filled in order for innovation and technology to help Yukon people and institutions flourish.