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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Capturing vulnerability : towards a method for assessing, mitigating, and monitoring gendered violence in mining communities in British Columbia Stockwell, Alison Marie


The impacts of the extractive industry (mining, oil and gas) on the health and safety of rural and Aboriginal women are largely unidentified and unmitigated in British Columbia (BC) environmental assessments. In relation to extractive industries, women experience direct and indirect impacts in unique ways. Globally, evidence suggests that extractive industries are associated with increased incidence of substance abuse, prostitution, and violence against women. Rural and Aboriginal women are among the most vulnerable people in Canada. They experience high levels of domestic and non-domestic violence and have limited access to health services. While BC’s environmental assessments are increasingly rigorous, health impacts beyond environmental exposures, such as those related to violence in communities, are considered out of scope and the indicators used to assess, mitigate, and monitor them remain undeveloped. This research, part of a collaborative five-year project on extractive industries and community health in BC, sought to: (1) synthesize findings from the literature on women’s health and safety in relation to extractive industry development; (2) identify indicators of vulnerability of rural and Aboriginal women to violent victimization in BC; and (3) develop a mapped composite indicator to identify regions of BC where poor health, substance abuse, and violence are endemic, and where women are at risk of violent victimization. The resulting indicator provides a proposed model for assessing and monitoring population vulnerability in relation to major projects and enhancing the current environmental assessment process. Results indicate that BC’s northernmost regions are highly vulnerable, characterized by low health status and access to services, high levels of substance abuse and violent crime, and a high proportion of women at risk of violent victimization. Recommendations are made for extractive industry proponents, regulators and impact assessors, and affected communities to make use of quantitative tools to better capture vulnerability in relation to extractive projects. Subsequently, targeted mitigation measures that address violence and consider the needs of vulnerable populations can be prescribed in regions where extractive industry projects operate. This work was completed as part of the University of British Columbia Bridge Program with funding from Vancouver Foundation and the Canadian Institutes for Health Research.

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