Reflections on a year of learning

May 22, 2015 - I take my leave from Northern Policy Institute this month and return to the federal government work I left a year ago. My residency with Laurentian University and Northern Policy Institute has been more than I could have hoped for in my quest to learn about all things Ring of Fire.

Northern Policy Institute’s offices at Laurentian and Lakehead University provide the oxygen needed for think tanks to think. It was a reward in itself to have an office at Laurentian. The university is full of energy and ambition. My access to a seemingly unlimited number of geology, mining, science and economics experts has been a mere walk away. Also two minutes down the hall from my office is the J.N. Desmarais Library & Archives; a treasure trove containing vast knowledge and research material.

As for Northern Policy Institute, it is a concept that is long overdue in Northern Ontario. The institute is a forum that is enabling northerners to express themselves. More than that, it provides a springboard for ideas and ideals that have the potential to make the north stronger.

In his recent book Sapiens, author Yuval Noah Harari states that humans have succeeded mainly due to their ability to organize, socialize, communicate and imagine. Fittingly, Northern Policy Institute is a catalyst for northerners to do just that, as it encourages northerners to share and organize their thoughts, hopes and vision. The institute does this by creating conversations in social media, mainstream media, as well as at conferences and gatherings of northerners large and small. Papers from a variety of thinkers; not just northerners, are presented as thought-fodder.

Research from around the world that sometimes challenges pre-conceived notions that northerners have of themselves is a healthy exercise. Northern Policy Institute has quickly become a mirror that Northerners can hold up to see themselves as they truly are, rather than only what they imagine themselves to be. In that, lies the truth that can propel our northern society forward. The ability to organize around ideas and concepts, based on fact, is what can create investment and turn resources into action.

Northern Policy Institute is a gift that will help bring positive change to the north. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Northern Policy Institute this past year and will always be grateful for that opportunity. My hope is that northerners will continue to participate in this made-in-the-north forum to ensure the growth of our minds, our economy and our future.

Authored by Rick Millette, Senior Executive Director: Ring of Fire with Northern Policy Institute.

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