What Direction are they Paddling? A Critical Examination of Environmentalists’ Conceptions of Indigenous Self-Determination along the Peace River

Jacqueline Peat, 2016
Vol. 22 No. 15 ISSN 1702-3548 (online)

Through a critical reading of external communication pieces produced by six organizations fighting a hydroelectric project in northern British Columbia, this paper examines how environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) understand – and engage—with the concept of Indigenous self-determination. Findings suggest that ENGOs have a limited understanding of what constitutes Indigenous self-determination. The ENGOS studied are speaking out against resource development project that will adversely impact Indigenous peoples, however they are not putting Indigenous self-determination at the center of their solidarity work. Self-determination is a key theme in discussions about breaking down the vestiges of colonialism, and building equitable relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. These discussions, however, focus primarily on the role of the state, giving little attention to non-state actors. By examining environmental organizations, this research looks at how non-state actors can support Indigenous self-determination within the realm of water governance.