Modern Treaties and Environmental Regimes in Canada

map_inuvselected landsMap: Map attached to letter from Judd Buchanan to Sam Raddi, 20 July 1976
© Government of Canada. Reproduced with the permission of Library and Archives Canada (2016). Source: Library and Archives Canada/Alastair Gillespie fonds/Vol.2 file 243-15

Modern treaties–or, the comprehensive land claim agreements signed between the federal government of Canada and Aboriginal communities since 1975–have reshaped the human relationship with nature in much of the country. This research project examines the ways modern treaties create unique environmental regimes by analyzing the history of the first two modern treaties signed, the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (1975) and the Inuvialuit Final Agreement (1984), along with an important precursor to these, the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (1971).

I am particularly interested in how federal governmental bodies with regulatory authority over environmental matters–namely, the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs; Energy, Minerals, and Resources; and the Department of Environment–shaped the federal position on issues like land use planning, environmental impact assessment, and non-renewable resource management. I draw on archival records from these three departments as well as the personal collection of one of the chief federal negotiators of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement, Simon Reisman.

See my blog post with Bruce Uviluq, Anna Logie, and Derek Rasmussen calling for historians to engage with Modern Treaties as part of a broader project of decolonization.

See my chapter in Cold Science: Environmental Knowledge in the North American Arctic during the Cold War on Indigenous Knowledge, science, and land claims in Arctic Canada in the 1970s.

This research responds to interests and issues presented at the “Making Treaties Work for Future Generations” conference sponsored by the Land Claims Agreement Coalition in December 2015. My work on this project was supported by a Fulbright Visiting Research Chair fellowship between January and June, 2016.