Wanvik presents at Energy Impacts conference

The Energy Impacts conference was arranged from 28 February to 2 March by the Department of Anthropology at the University of Bergen. The aim of the conference was to discuss issues pertaining to the social impacts of an accelerated pace and intensity of resource extraction and energy developments on an expanding scale. The conference brought together scientists and practitioners with common interest on energy, supporting new approaches to energy questions. The Energy Anthropology Network was also launched during the conference. Read more about that here.

 

Indigenous engagement with extractive industry developments in the Canadian North

Meeting around the campfire with Métis elder Bill Loutitt

Wanvik and McMurray Métis Elder and Vice President Bill Loutitt by the campfire.

 

During the panel “Between energy conflict and cooperation: Rights, dispossesion and adaptation”, Tarje Wanvik presented on the topic “Understanding Indigenous Strategic Pragmatism – Indigenous engagement with extractive industry developments in the Canadian North”.

Although there is an emerging understanding of the empowerment of indigenous communities facing extractive industrial developments, the main bulk of academic research favours conventional conceptualisations of local indigenous communities as subject to circumstance; pushed ever further to the fringes of their lands by external forces threatening to extinguish their traditional ways of life.

However, such conventional understanding of industrial-indigenous relations does not explain the recent developments among indigenous Metis communities in Northern Alberta. Here, several indigenous communities mobilise a variety of resources in order to increase their leverage and expand their rights in the midst of the oil sands. Rather than being subject to circumstance, we argue that indigenous communities often seize the moment by strategic and pragmatic engagement with their ever-changing environments.

By analysing recent mobilisation of resources among three Indigenous Métis communities in the regional municipality of Wood Buffalo, Alberta, we develop an empirically grounded framework for understanding indigenous strategic pragmatism and the output, outcomes and impact of indigenous engagement with extractive industry developments.