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

  • Author / Creator
    Dokis, Carly Ann
  • 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.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2012
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • 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.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • DeBernardi, Jean (Anthropology)
    • Scott, Colin (Anthropology)
    • Krogman, Naomi (Rural Economy)
    • Nuttall, Mark (Anthropology)
    • Fletcher, Christopher (Anthropology)