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People, land, and pipelines: perspectives on resource decision-making in the Sahtu Region, Northwest Territories Open Access


Other title
Mackenzie Gas Project
Oil and gas
Public participation
Environmental decision-making
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Dokis, Carly Ann
Supervisor and department
Palmer, Andie (Anthropology)
Examining committee member and department
Krogman, Naomi (Rural Economy)
Nuttall, Mark (Anthropology)
DeBernardi, Jean (Anthropology)
Fletcher, Christopher (Anthropology)
Scott, Colin (Anthropology)
Department of Anthropology

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
This dissertation examines the ways in which three Aboriginal communities in the Sahtu Region of the Northwest Territories are participating in decisions and activities related to non-renewable resource extraction on Sahtu lands. In particular, I examine local involvement in the assessment and regulation of a 1,220 km natural gas pipeline and related infrastructure, collectively termed the Mackenzie Gas Project, currently proposed for the Mackenzie Valley. Overall, this work addresses the conditions under which Sahtu Dene and Métis participation in resource decision-making takes place; it identifies and offers a critique of some of the assumptions inherent in regulatory, environmental assessment, and consultative processes currently in place in the Sahtu region, and argues that while there has been significant progress in establishing avenues for Sahtu Dene and Métis participation in resource decision-making, non-local epistemological underpinnings of governance, regulatory, and environmental assessment institutions and practices can hinder local participation in resource decision-making and may serve to reinforce existing power relationships between proponents, Aboriginal communities, and the Canadian state. The findings of this research suggest that there are several barriers to Sahtu Dene and Métis participation in resource decision-making, including: 1) how environmental impacts are assessed and the associated determination of their ‘significance’ in environmental assessment and management regimes; 2) the naturalization of techno-rational knowledge paradigms and legalistic discourse in environmental assessment and regulatory processes; 3) incongruent communicative practices and norms of appropriate human and human/other than-human relationships between local Dene and Métis participants and those of large development corporations and governments; 4) divergent perceptions of the landscape; and 5) changing governance structures resulting from the Sahtu Dene and Métis Comprehensive Land Claim. This research contributes to a growing assessment of current participatory and resource co-management processes in the Canadian north, and addresses the call for research reflecting local experiences of various participatory processes in resource management, including the often messy and contradictory positions taken by members of a diverse community.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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File title: People, Land, and Pipelines:
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