Mining the Land While Sustaining Iiyiyiuituwin

Exercising Indigenous Sovereignty through Collaboration with Corporations in Eeyou Istchee
Thursday, 13 May 2021 - 10:00 am to 12:00 pm
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Marie-Dominik Langlois
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Free of charge
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Conference hosted by the Interdisciplinary Research Group on Territories of Extractivism (GRITE), Human Rights Research and Education Centre (HRREC), and UOttawa-ULyon Joint Research Chair on Urban Anthropocene

Chair: Sophie Thériault, Civil Law, uOttawa
Presented by Karine Vanthuyne, Anthropology, uOttawa

In Canada, as in the rest of the world, the relationship between Indigenous Nations and mining corporations is characterized by asymmetrical power dynamics. To address this situation, several Indigenous Nations who see mining as an opportunity to realize their financial autonomy have developed policies and mechanisms to enhance their capacity to regulate how their traditional territories are exploited. Drawing on ethnographic collaborative research conducted with the Cree of Eeyou Istchee, we show how these types of initiatives can allow Indigenous peoples to reconcile mining with ways of life seemingly at odds with extractive development. From local perspectives, and despite serious challenges, the Eeyouch have managed to persuade the developers of the mine operating on their territory to meaningfully engage with Iiyiyiuituwin – the “Eeyou way of life”, which is fundamentally anchored in respect for and reciprocity with the land. While numerous Indigenous Nations exercise their sovereignty by opposing extractive development, others, we argue, realize it through building relationship with corporations in ways that sustain their enduring political philosophy.