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Political Science Cultural Policy

Hunting the Northern Character

by (author) Tony Penikett

UBC Press
Initial publish date
Nov 2017
Cultural Policy, Economic Policy, Indigenous Studies
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Nov 2017
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Nov 2017
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2018
    List Price

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Canadian politicians, like many of their circumpolar counterparts, brag about their country’s “Arctic identity” or “northern character,” but what do they mean, exactly? Stereotypes abound, from Dudley Do-Right to Northern Exposure, but these southern perspectives fail to capture northern realities. During decades of service as a legislator, mediator, and negotiator, Tony Penikett witnessed a new northern consciousness grow out of the challenges of the Cold War, climate change, land rights struggles, and the boom and bust of resource megaprojects. His lively account of clashes and accommodations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous leaders not only retraces the footsteps of his hunt for a northern identity but tells the story of an Arctic that the world does not yet know.

About the author

Tony Penikett, currently a Vancouver-based mediator, was deputy minister of negotiations for the British Columbia government and, later, deputy labour minister. A former Yukon premier, Penikett has been involved in aboriginal rights negotiations for over twenty years. He also teaches courses in negotiations in Simon Fraser University’s Dialogue and Master of Public Policy programs.

Tony Penikett's profile page

Editorial Reviews

There are tantalizing snippets of memoir in this book—Penikett is an excellent writer, and there’s one especially lovely description of his presence as honorary pallbearer at his former mother-in-law’s funeral and potlatch. But it is largely a comprehensive review of issues such as governance, international relations (a history and critique of the Arctic Council), resource management, climate change, and social issues like poverty, education, and health. Chapters on climate change, the “hungry ghost,” and the complex issue of sovereignty are especially good, as Penikett honours traditional knowledge (known colloquially as TK), and the slow integration of traditional knowledge into scientific research and analysis in the Arctic.

Literary Review of Canada

Hunting The Northern Character is an eloquent appeal to end condescending treatment of the one uniquely Canada region best known to the outside world.

Blacklock’s Reporter

This is an insider’s view of Canada’s North and the Arctic world generally, informed by decades of experience in all aspects of northern life – social, environmental, and economic. It is astonishingly wide-ranging and comprehensive in its approach to topics, as well as lighthearted and anecdotal. It is difficult to think of anyone who knows more, or as much, about this subject as Penikett, which makes his book indispensable reading for anyone interested in the North.

Summing Up: Essential.

CHOICE, April 2018

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