British Journal of Canadian Studies

Water (in)security in Canada: national identity and the exclusion of Indigenous peoples

British Journal of Canadian Studies (2017), 30, (1), 69–89.

Abstract

With the exception of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people, most Canadians enjoy water security. Indigenous people are ninety times more likely than other Canadians to lack piped water. These disparities result from and maintain the colonial relationship between Canada and Indigenous peoples. As displaced people with values often in opposition to neo-liberalism, Indigenous people present an existential threat to Canadian identity, this identity having been created around possession of a vast land that extends to the North Pole, and subsequent heavy resource extraction throughout this land. To maintain Canada’s national identity and the activities that support it, Indigenous people have to be pushed to the figurative and literal fringes and rendered invisible. Five short case studies of water insecurity demonstrate how neo-liberalism props up and legitimises decentralised water governance in Canada, which in turn promotes and maintains environmental inequality, Indigenous marginalisation and, ultimately, the Canadian identity.

A l’exception des peuples des Premières Nations, des Métis et des Inuits, la plupart des Canadiens bénéficient de la sécurité de l’eau. Les peuples indigènes ont quatre-vingt-dix fois plus de chances que les autres Canadiens de manquer d’eau courante. Ces disparités sont le résultat et maintiennent la relation coloniale entre le Canada et les peuples indigènes. En tant que populations déplacées ayant des valeurs souvent en opposition au néolibéralisme, les peuples indigènes présentent une menace existentielle à l’identité canadienne, cette identité ayant été créée autour de la possession d’un vaste pays qui s’étend jusqu’au Pôle Nord, et la forte extraction ultérieure de ressources à travers tout le pays. Afin de maintenir l’identité nationale du Canada et les activités qui la soutiennent, les peuples indigènes ont été repoussés vers les marges figurées et littérales et ont étés rendus invisibles. Cinq courtes études de cas d’insécurité de l’eau démontrent comment le néolibéralisme soutient et légitime la gouvernance décentralisée de l’eau au Canada, qui à son tour promeut et maintient l’inégalité environnementale, la marginalisation indigène, et, finalement, l’identité canadienne.

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Hanrahan, Maura