Re-Envisioning the North: The Importance of Effective Cultural Planning for Economic Growth & Sustainability in Northwestern Ontario Rural Communities

Suzanne Kukko


Since the fall of the forestry industry over a decade ago, Northwestern Ontario has struggled to find its footing in an ever changing, global economy. As the hub of NWO, Thunder Bay has kept their economic engine fired through the facilitation of research and development, and by aggressively promoting itself as a travel destination. But without an anchor industry, research facilities, and major infrastructure, how will northern rural communities continue to sustain themselves? In today’s economic climate, diversification and sustainability must be achieved through attraction of creative talent. Peeling back the layers of the development happening within Nipigon, a small town 110 km east of Thunder Bay, we see that such a transformation is beginning to happen, although not by design. What is Nipigon already successfully doing to transform itself into a creative community? What deliberate actions should it take to achieve further success? Through the development and facilitation of a cohesive cultural planning strategy, Nipigon will be an evolutionary model for other northern rural communities experiencing similar economic challenges.

Key Words: cultural planning, creative community, sustainability, arts, culture, north

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Campbell, H., Duxbury, N., (2011). “Developing and Revitalizing Rural Communities through Arts and Culture”. Small Cities Imprint, Volume 3.

DPRA Canada. (2014). “Community Profile, Township of Nipigon, Ontario”. Toronto.

Hume, G. (2009). Cultural Planning for Creative Communities. Union: Municipal World.



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