Arctic Yearbook 2014 - Page 557

Arctic Yearbook 2014 557 which laid the groundwork for the new territory, was signed in 1993. The latter also provided a settlement of claims and gave Inuit a role in decision making” (ibid.: 123). Thus both Inuit and non-Inuit were involved in the process, which includes much of the Canadian Arctic, and is also well developed in the Northwest Territories. This process to resolve land claims in the 1970s was accompanied by a push for development (Stuhl 2011; Nicol 2013). Nevertheless, the reservations of environmentalists which surfaced in the 1970s, in relation to development within the North, was reinforced by those who felt that development within the Canadian North should not proceed until land claims had been settled (Berger 1977; Christensen & Grant 2007; Watkins 1977). This was precisely the conclusion of the Berger Inquiry. In wake of the controversial proposed development of the Mackenzie Valley, for example, the Berger Commission visited 35 communities from 1974-1977 to hear the concerns of local residents. This was the first time that the aboriginal voice was really heard with regards to proposed development. The major conclusion of the report is that it challenged the prior images of the North as an empty space when Berger (1977) proclaimed that there were duelling realities in the North – “for one group it is a frontier, for the other a homeland” (xvii). Berger’s comprehensive report covered a multitude of issues, including the environment, culture, the northern economy, and social impacts. The message the report sent was that any new development efforts cannot ignore local indigenous populations because the North is their home, development will not benefit everyone equally, and local indigenous groups will be left to deal with the consequences (Berger 1977). Rethinking Homeland/Frontier Since then, the dual perception of the Canadian North as both a resource frontier and homeland for indigenous and non-indigenous communities has been recognized by a number of scholars and practitioners. As such, a distinct Canadian Studies tradition on the North and northern development that began with Thomas Berger’s report on the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline (Berger 1977) has continued with a tradition of writing on development including the work of Coates (1985), Feit (1988) or by geographers like Bone’s The Geography of the Canadian North (2012) or even Petrov’s work in Trembly and Chicoine’s (2013) The Geographies of Canada (2013). Such reports and approaches identify the special nature of Canada’s Arctic and sub-Arctic regions, the issues and challenges to its human populations, and the potential threat of large resourceoriented extraction projects like the proposed Mackenzie Valley pipeline in the 1970s, or the Windy Craggy Mine Proposal discussed by Bone in 1992. They recognize the vulnerabilities of the resource economy and advocate greater indigenous involvement in decision-making. These assessments rightly identified the potential for large-scale environmental destruction and unalterable change to indigenous lifestyles in the north, counterpoising the politics of environment, in this region against the politics of resource extraction industries. Indeed, the political in the Canadian Arctic context was, until the 1990s, generally exclusive of community participation within the development and mitigation processes. In other words, the homeland/frontier dichotomy resonated in a scholarship which was focused on politics and environmental debate. It situated resource development initiatives in terms of known regional economic effects, most of which had been negative for Northerners and Northern environments. DiFracesco (2000) echoed the comments of the Royal Commission of 1995, in its Economic Development, Indigenous Governance, & Arctic Sovereignty