Beginning with the Grand Rapids Dam in the 1960s, hydroelectric development has dramatically altered the social, political, and physical landscape of northern Manitoba. The Nelson River has been cut up into segments and fractured by a string of dams, for which the Churchill River had to be diverted and new inflow points from Lake Winnipeg created to manage their capacity. Historic mighty rapids have shrivelled into dry river beds. Manitoba Hydro's Keeyask dam and generating station will expand the existing network of 15 dams and 13,800 km of transmission lines.
In Our Backyard tells the story of the Keeyask dam and accompanying development on the Nelson River from the perspective of Indigenous peoples, academics, scientists, and regulators. It builds on the rich environmental and economic evaluations documented in the Clean Environment Commission’s public hearings on Keeyask in 2012. It amplifies Indigenous voices that environmental assessment and regulatory processes have often failed to incorporate and provides a basis for ongoing decision-making and scholarship relating to Keeyask and resource development more generally. It considers cumulative, regional, and strategic impact assessments; Indigenous worldviews and laws within the regulatory and decision-making process; the economics of development; models for monitoring and management; consideration of affected species; and cultural and social impacts.
With a provincial and federal regulatory regime that is struggling with important questions around the balance between development and sustainability, and in light of the inherent rights of Indigenous people to land, livelihoods, and self-determination, In Our Backyard offers critical reflections that highlight the need for purposeful dialogue, principled decision making, and a better legacy of northern development in the future.
About the authors
Aimée Craft is an Indigenous (Anishinaabe-Métis) lawyer (called to the Bar in 2005) from Treaty 1 territory in Manitoba. She is currently an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Common law, University of Ottawa. Craft is the former Director of Research at the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and the founding Director of Research at the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation. Her book, Breathing Life into the Stone Fort Treaty: An Anishnabe Understanding of Treaty One (2013) won the Eileen McTavish Sykes Award for Best First Book.
Jill Blakley is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography and Planning and an associate faculty member of the School of Environment and Sustainability at the University of Saskatchewan. She is an internationally recognized leader in the field of cumulative effects assessment. Her research program centres primarily on energy and transportation mega-projects and their implications for land use, vegetation, wildlife habitat, water and affected local and Indigenous communities.
Other titles by Aimée Craft
For As Long As the Rivers Flow
The Law, Policy and Ethics of COVID-19
Pathways of Reconciliation
Indigenous and Settler Approaches to Implementing the TRC's Calls to Action
A Knock on the Door
The Essential History of Residential Schools from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, Edited and Abridged
Breathing Life into the Stone Fort Treaty
An Anishnabe Understanding of Treaty One