To Justify Land 3: Discrepancies in the Values is republished in the Media Co-Op:
Colonization’s impact on rivers, from Siberia to the Ottawa Valley
Hydroelectricity development continues in Québec, as Hydro-Québec currently targets the “protected” Magpie River, with recent contestation from the Natashquan Innu who blockaded La Romaine hydroelectric complex near Havre-Saint-Pierre in 2015. Yet, reparations for century-old projects are still being sought for their devastation of the environment throughout Nitassinan, across the borders of Québec and Labrador. Reparations are also still sought for a cultural genocide committed in favour of war-time industries and industrialist profiteering. The power of the northern rivers of the Boréal was monetized for the benefit of a few industrialists whose notions of progress still resonate today. The same companies still believe in their proud history of colonial brutality, of their conquest of the wild frontier, empowered by Canadian neoliberal policy. The same legacy of politicians believes that progress is continued surveying, extraction, production, land development, and prioritization of corporate interests over the truly global crisis of the endless growth of capital.
The mask of these extractive industries is the promise of employment – first to Québec workers and later, when they began to resist too effectively, to Innu communities. Just like the Nenets on the Yamal who were offered the opportunity to become subsidiaries of Russian oil and gas companies, the Innu too could now share in the revenues of mines, smelting factories, and profitable hydroelectric dams! In the process of negotiating rights for self-governance, Innu communities in Québec are being offered buy-in to ongoing hydroelectric projects. “In Nutashkuan, the Innu could have the option to partner with Québec in developing and profiting from a 50-MW hydroelectric dam.” (National Post, Feb. 7, 2016). Collaboration with extractive industries and power companies is cynically depicted as the only way to progress in negotiations with the Canadian state for better living conditions and self-governance in affected regions, and the only way by which to maintain a semblance of control and oversight on projects being developed. In “consultation”, permission for continued development is taken for granted as a guaranteed outcome, not as a point of true disputation. The compromise is employment opportunities and “guaranteed royalties”. Under the conditions of assimilation into the state, “progress”, “success” and “development” mean “revenue generation” that is based on “institution-building, economic development, land and natural resource use”. Co-operation with Indigenous peoples means enforcing an economic system that fosters dependency on private corporations for the provision of benefits and security, and enforcement of environmental regulations, when the conditions for self-governance in all of these areas is systemically oppressed by colonial states – autonomy, self-governance, independence are, after all, all enemies of the state.