Uncovering Hidden Narratives of Resource Dependent Communities: Coal Mining in Alberta

  • Author / Creator
    Skelding, Hannah S
  • Coal mining in Alberta has proven to be a controversial and heated topic in the past few years. The decision of the Government of Alberta to rescind the 1976 Coal Policy in 2020 provided a new context for coal mining in the province. The future of coal mining in Alberta is complicated by national climate commitments and local environmental and social concerns related to open-pit coal mining. The perceived benefits of new coal mining projects in the province are largely connected to the potential for improved livelihoods for communities. However, previous scholarship on mining and resource dependency suggests a need for further research to understand the impact these new coal mining ventures will have on communities in Alberta. This thesis aims to reveal the past, present, and future impacts of coal mining in Alberta through two paper-based chapters using systematized literature reviews.
    The first chapter uses a community capitals framework to assess capacity and adaptation in Alberta’s coal mining communities from 1874 to 2022, focusing on the beginning of industry from 1874 to 1919. The communities of Hillcrest, Nordegg, and Rosedale serve as case studies to illustrate historical narratives of coal mining towns. This chapter aims to reveal the challenges and opportunities mining communities face using financial, natural, human, social, and political capitals. Through categorizing coal mining narratives into the community capitals framework, overall patterns and trends were identified over a roughly 150-year period. Today, the incentives for coal mining in Alberta largely center around economic benefits for communities; however, the history of coal mining communities in the province reveals that the perceived economic benefits of the industry should not outweigh the social, environmental, and political costs.
    The second paper chapter focuses on who is missing from the historical records of coal mining in Alberta, namely non-Indigenous and Indigenous women from 1874 to 1919. The active exclusion of non-Indigenous women, Indigenous communities, and Indigenous women raises questions and concerns about colonial violence, intersectionality, and economic exclusions. In mining dependent communities, women are often characterized by binary labels such as “wives” and “whores”. Using critical race theory, feminist theory, Indigenous feminist theory, and settler colonial theory, this second chapter explores how this binary has been used in Alberta’s coal mining communities and the contemporary implications this dichotomy poses for non-Indigenous and Indigenous women. The history of resource dependent communities can shape the outcomes of what is possible in the future. This thesis contributes to the literature on
    sustainable livelihoods and resource dependency as it reveals the patterns and trends of coal mining communities in Alberta. In order to understand what a possible future of coal mining will look like in the province, this thesis uncovers the hidden historical narratives of Alberta’s coal mining communities.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2023
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.