Indigenous Peoples Will Shape a More Just and Sustainable Future for Canada

Members of the Gitxsan First Nation protest in B.C. in 2013. Image: Canadian Press/Robin Rowland
After 150 years of relentless colonization, Canada finds itself at a crossroads. Staring down social injustice, economic insecurity and environmental instability, it has the opportunity to forge a more just and sustainable future, if it follows the leadership of Indigenous peoples.

By Julian Brave Noisecat | MOTHERBOARD

Canada, the world’s second-largest nation by landmass, has abundant natural resources. In his influential „staples thesis“ conceived in the 1920s, political economist Harold Innis demonstrated that the export of commodities to the British Empire—at the time fur, cod, lumber and wheat—in exchange for manufactured goods and technologies was central to Canada’s development.

Sixty-five years after his passing in 1952, Innis‘ work remains incisive. Replace fur and wheat with oil and minerals, the British Empire with the American, and you have a reasonable sketch of Canada’s economic present. Today, Canada is the fifth ranked oil producer and fourth ranked oil exporter by volume in the world. Among G7 countries, it is the top ranked oil exporter by far.

Canada’s dependence on the extraction of natural resources is a social, economic and environmental curse.

After a century-and-a-half of colonial dispossession, First Nations reserves now account for just 0.2 percent of the country’s land base. Consequently, Indigenous peoples experience endemic poverty, while oil oligarchs, mining barons and hereditary elites revel in extraordinary wealth.

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