Environmentalism in an age of reconciliation: exploring a new context of indigenous and environmental NGO relationships




Gordon, Charlie

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As Canada’s courts recognize and redefine the scope of Aboriginal title and rights in the country, alliances between Indigenous communities and environmental groups are playing an increasingly central role in the fight to stop fossil fuel infrastructure projects and address the global threats of climate change. Recognizing the importance of relationships between environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGO) and Indigenous peoples to environmental campaigns in Canada, and the need to include land-politics into the national conversation of reconciliation, this research project aims to investigate the role of reconciliation efforts in environmental campaigns in BC. Indigenous-ENGO relationships offer important opportunities to learn how actions and language of reconciliation are (or are not) being expressed in environmental campaigns, and to learn how ENGOs are approaching their work with Indigenous communities in an era of reconciliation. Using two campaigns as my case studies I explore these topics by interviewing ENGO staff and Indigenous peoples working collaboratively on the Site C Dam campaign in the Peace River region of Treaty 8 in northeast BC, and the Pacific Northwest liquid natural gas (LNG) terminal project in the Skeena River watershed region in the traditional territories of the Tsimshian, Gitxsan, and Wet’suwet’en nations of northwest BC. Informed by Indigenous and anti-colonial research methodologies, a principle of relational accountability is used to center relationships with land as a foundation for reconciliation, and for recommendations on how Indigenous-ENGO relationships can be improved.



reconciliation, environmentalism, Indigenous, environmental, NGO, non-governmental organization, Site C dam, relationships, decolonization, First Nations, climate change, British Columbia, BC, Canada, ENGO, Pacific Northwest LNG, relational accountability, anti-colonial research methods