Socio-Economic Research

Socio-economic research is critical to community planning and to assessing and managing potential impacts from industrial development.

What We Do

We support communities in undertaking their own assessments that identify and address what matters most to them, for example impacts from industrial developments, accessing traditional foods, contaminant risks, engaging in cultural activities, or accessing jobs and training. Our services include community-led censuses and surveys, baseline socio-economic and health research, and food and diet studies. We integrate our work with Firelight’s teams in environmental assessment support, traditional knowledge and use, and impact and benefit agreement negotiations to ensure that our work is comprehensive and provides added value for communities.


Our team includes leading social scientists with decades of research experience conducting studies for a broad range of projects from large-scale coal mines, hydro dams, gas pipelines, and LNG terminals to smaller-scale projects like winter roads in the north.

Capacity Building

We provide training on social and economic research in Indigenous communities, helping them to establish their own mechanisms for identifying, assessing, monitoring, and managing the issues that impact community wellbeing.



Ginger Gibson
PhD Mining & Engineering
Edmonton Office
Phone: (780) 488-0090

Community-led socio-economic studies allow Indigenous groups to take a leadership role in identifying and managing the good and bad changes that come with resource development, increasing communities’ ability to take advantage of job and business opportunities, while protecting social, economic and cultural values, in ways that make a difference on the ground.

Alistair MacDonald
Socio-ec team lead

Example Projects

“The Land is our Lifeline” – Report of Potential Socio-economic Impact Pathways for the Proposed BC Hydro West Kelowna Transmission Project (2018)

In collaboration with the Syilx communities of Westbank First Nation, Upper Nicola Band, and Okanagan Indian Band, the Firelight Group conducted a socio-economic study to identify community vulnerabilities that may be influenced by BC Hydro’s West Kelowna Transmission Project (WKTP), as well as to assess each community’s ability to take advantage of potential project benefits. In order to establish accurate socio-economic baselines for each of the Syilx Okanagan communities, from which potential impacts could be derived, a number of methods were used, from community meetings and focus groups to a community-led survey tailored to include community-developed priority indicators. These approaches were supported with additional secondary data, such as custom Statistics Canada data in order to compare vulnerabilities with the surrounding non-Indigenous population. The findings were analysed using Valued Components for Community Well-being (VCs), which helped position the community concerns and impact expectations in relation to the determinants of community well-being. Separate baseline socio-economic impact reports were prepared for each community, along with a shared impact pathways report that was also submitted to BC Hydro.

Final report completed in 2018, confidential

Indigenous Communities and Industrial Camps: Promoting Healthy Communities in Settings of Industrial Change (2017)

This study, initiated by community leaders in the Lake Babine First Nation with the Nak’azdli Whut’en First Nation, arose from concerns expressed during pipeline review processes, about the risks experienced by women in Indigenous communities due to closely sited industrial camps. Social and cultural risks of close location of industrial camps often falls under the radar of planning processes. The report was based on key informant interviews and a workshop that brought together Indigenous community members, front line service providers, and industry and government representatives. Policies, programs and strategies were developed for regional mitigation planning for industrial camps, with a focus on promoting healthy workplaces and communities in these settings.

Indigenous Communities and Industrial Camps

Okanagan Indian Band Socio-economic Baseline Report for the Proposed BC Hydro Revelstoke Unit 6 Project (Fall 2016)

The Firelight Group worked with the Okanagan Indian Band (OKIB) to complete a socio-economic baseline study for members living on reserve. Using a custom and innovative survey tool, the study engaged 114 member households to better understand complex and dynamic community attributes such as demographics, education and training interests, well-being, household and traditional food security, and engagement in cultural activities.  The baseline now serves as an integral tool for measuring and monitoring change over time, as well as mitigating impacts of industrial development within OKIB’s territory.

“The Okanagan Indian Band is very pleased to share their recent works and experiences with the consulting firm the Firelight Group.  First and foremost, the work conducted exceeded expectation for the recent socio-economic study. From the starting developments of the project to finished final product, a top quality and professional product was delivered. The Firelight Group were trouble-free to work with throughout the whole scope of the project. The Okanagan Indian Band would hire and work with them again.”  – Testimony from OKIB

OKIB Socio-economic Baseline for BC Hydro

Wabun Tribal Council Benefits Maximization Plan for the Proposed Borden Gold Project

Socio-economic benefit measures identification and implementation planning for the Borden Gold Project: Firelight worked with the Wabun Tribal Council in northern Ontario in the development of a Benefits Maximization Plan for the proposed Borden Gold Project. Elements included the identification of short- and long-term measures for socio-economic benefits maximization to take to the negotiations table with the proponent, the development of Terms of Reference for a Human Resources Committee and a First Nations Employment and Training Work Task Group between the parties, and the development of a job description for a Project-specific WTC Human Resources Liaison.

The Firelight Group

Research, policy, planning, mapping, negotiation, advisory, and capacity building services for Indigenous and local communities.


VICTORIA (250) 590-9017
EDMONTON (780) 760-1255


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