Pimicikimak Sovereignty: Cree Sustainability and Hydroelectric Inundation in Northern Manitoba
Hydroelectric development on the Saskatchewan, Churchill, and Nelson River systems has been devastating for Cree peoples. Inundated by land flooding since the 1970s, the Cree have long fought for just relations with the utility Manitoba Hydro, the province of Manitoba, and Canada’s federal government. In this context, Cree self-government functions as a performative path to sovereignty as well as a means to resist exploitative relationships imposed by the state, province, and public hydro utility. The Cree have performed—undertaken, constituted, transmitted—their practice of sovereignty from time immemorial on their lands. Cree self-governance engages the imposed structures and discursive forms of Canadian law, that is, treaty and Aboriginal rights, as well as those of human rights in innovative and self-determined ways. First, they are committed to their lands through ancient, sustainable, and ongoing cultural practices and attachments. Second, the Cree ground their use of human rights discourse in historically specific struggle, based on their own commitment to sustainable relationships at multiple scales.
KeywordsHydroelectric inundation Indigenous and human rights Sovereignty Sustainability Cree peoples Pimicikimak
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