Whose land is it anyway? Open access book on decolonialism in Canada

whose land is it anyways


This is a fantastic, and timely, open-access book from some of Canada’s leading thinkers on Indigenous relations to land, law, education, and much else. There’s no simple way to capture the variety of the contributions in this decolonial handbook, except to say they are all worth reading. Download the PDF here: McFarlane and Schabus Whose land is it anyway 2018


How Canadian bureaucrats make state territory in the name of ‘restoring’ Indigenous rights

I’m quite happy that some recent work of mine is now out in the Annals of the American Association of Geographers.[very happy to send FREE copies to anybody by email or by post if a hardcopy is preferred].

The paper looks at how bureaucrats in Canada used the development of new legislation regarding private property on lands reserved for First Nations to convert Indigenous claims to territory into spaces akin to municipalities. I’ve put the abstract below, and aim to put out a short piece or two to summarize soon; one aspect of the work is its basis in bureaucratic practices…many of which are about addressing critiques within and beyond the government. So I’ll be keen to see what (if any) responses it generates.

Bureaucratic Territory: First Nations, Private Property, and “Turn-Key” Colonialism in Canada


Since 2006, successive Canadian governments have worked to create private property regimes on lands reserved for First Nations. This article examines how the state framed the theory and history of Aboriginal property rights to achieve this goal. It then shows how, under the pretense of restoration, bureaucrats developed legislation that would create novel political spaces where, once converted to private property, reserved lands would function as a new kind of federal municipality in Canada. These changes took place in two ways: First, bureaucrats situated Aboriginal property within the state apparatus and reconfigured Indigenous territorial rights into a series of “regulatory gaps” regarding voting thresholds, certainty of title, and the historical misrepresentation of First Nations economies. Second, the government crafted legislation under what is known as the First Nations Property Ownership Initiative that, by closing regulatory gaps, would produce private property regimes analogous to municipal arrangements elsewhere in Canada. These bureaucratic practices realigned internal state mechanisms to produce novel external boundaries among the state, Indigenous lands, and the economy. By tracking how bureaucratic practices adapted to Indigenous refusals of state agendas, the article shows how the bureaucratic production of territory gave form to a new iteration of settler-colonialism in Canada.


Taiaiake Alfred: Reconciliation as Recolonization

How to stop an oil and gas pipeline: The Unist’ot’en Camp Resistance

I had a chance to have dinner with several members of the Unist’ot’en Camp a couple of years ago, and here is a recent short piece on their activities.

No running water: documentary series on First Nations in Manitoba

This is a special investigative series from the Winnipeg Free Press and you can view it here, along with a number of articles and videos documenting the state of First Nations Drinking Water and Sanitation in Manitoba.

Taiaiake Alfred on transforming fundamental institutions, confronting colonization

Taiaiake Alfred from UVic gave this talk recently. Starts about 10 minutes in.

How do we transcend the relationships that have gone into forming the societies that we have inherited when they encompass injustices?

Andrew Nikiforuk: pipelines and the petrostate

A recent talk on the Canadian petrostate. It is interesting to follow journalist Andrew Nikiforuk’s take versus those of industry, the government or academics who don’t think the idea of seeing Canada as a petrostate holds.

Lectures in honor of David Schindler

The University of Alberta recently celebrated the career and legacy of David Schindler, a remarkable aquatic ecologist.

Many of the videos can be streamed here. They cover topics on which Schindler was a leading contributor, including lake eutrophication, acid rain and mercury pollution. There is also an interesting panel discussion wrapping things up.


Canadian environmental news blast

Yesterday Environment Canada reported that Canada won’t meet even the watered down targets the current government set for itself on emissions.

While that was happening, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau was in Washington saying he supports the Keystone XL pipeline. I believe that makes all three major parties into the same place, with varying qualifiers around polluter pays, environmental protection and so forth on the Oil Sands.

Quietly, the federal government has resurrected a $500 million fund for the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline project. This project has a big history in Canada, stretching back to the 1970s. The latest round is for Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) as part of the governments northern resource development plan.

What else. Oh yes, Alberta decided not to allow First Nations to participate in hearings about Oil Sands expansion near their territories. This is more than an odd decision. But I don’t know the details. In other Alberta news, the air quality down wind of the refineries near Edmonton is loaded with as bad as the world’s worst cities. The Benzene level is over 70 times the normal level.

Also yesterday, yet another voice in the choir on problems with Canadian science and policy. This time in the Marine Pollution Bulletin, read it here (pdf).

Government problems: water-energy-mining-spying

Well, quite a week in Albertan and Canadian resource policy.

Last week, a judge issued a verdict against Alberta’s regulatory decision to exclude Pembina, an environmental NGO, from hearings on oil sands projects. And it wasn’t just a decision, it was a scathing indictment, which you can download here (PDF). Among the judge’s comments was that it was  “difficult to envision a more direct apprehension of bias” than the regulator’s decision to exclude Pembina.

Alberta also released a new consultation policy for development of resources affecting First Nations. It has been characterized as misguided. And that is not good timing, since the federal government sent an armada of ministers to B.C. recently to create some momentum for a pipeline through First Nations territory on that side of the two province deal that would pipe bitumen to Kitimat. It could be that the federal government and First Nations are headed for conflict.

On the other side of the country there is the on-going standoff over fracking in New Brunswick. A judge issued an injunction against a Mi’kmaq barricade yesterday, and the province’s premier is planning negotiations. The embarrassing issue for the New Brunswick government is that the chair of their Energy Institute was recently exposed as a fraud. So the credibility of the government is in serious doubt.

Also yesterday, Brazil called Canada out on its spying program that targeted Brazil’s mining and energy ministry. It will be interesting to see how this unfolds since, according to reports, there are more documents on Canada’s intelligence gathering that may be released as well.