Peter Usher was born in Montreal on 18 December 1941. He studied geography and political science at McGill University, earning his B.A. in 1962 and his M.A. in 1965. He earned his Ph.D. in geography from the University of British Columbia in 1970.
Usher lived and worked in the Western Arctic between 1962 and 1976, where he was involved with community economic development, the Inuvialuit land claim, and the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry. He was a member of the Northern Science Research Group of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development in Ottawa from 1967 to 1973. Following that, he worked for the Committee for Original People’s Entitlement (COPE) for four years. He established P.J. Usher Consulting Services in 1977, an independent consultancy based in Ottawa with a broad client base.
From 1991 to 1997, he was Director of Research at Inuit Tapirisat of Canada [Inuit Tapiirit Kanatami] in Ottawa. In 1997, he was appointed a member of the Joint Environmental Assessment Panel to review the Voisey’s Bay Mine-Mill Project in Labrador, where he remained until 1999. He was then appointed by the Government of the Northwest Territories to chair the Wildlife Management Advisory Council from 1997 to 2000.
Dr. Usher is a leading authority on social impact assessment, renewable resource use and management, the economics of subsistence-based communities, and Indigenous land rights, and has provided expert research, advice, and testimony on these subjects. He has been a visiting professor at multiple Canadian universities.