“Money is a Coward”: Social Mapping and the Production of Certainty in the Canadian North

Authors: Dana Holtby*, Carleton University
Topics: Political Geography, Development, Indigenous Peoples
Keywords: Mining, Political Economy, Extractive Industries, Northern Geographies, Colonialism
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 12:40 PM / 2:20 PM
Room: Bayside C, Sheraton, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper critically examines the recent unveiling of a major social mapping exercise across the Canadian North by the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor). The “Community Readiness Initiative” (CRI) aims to identify strengths and gaps within target communities that might be addressed in advance of major resource extraction activity in the region. Adopting a “whole of government approach” (CanNor 2015), the CRI is meant to align and sequence community development with extractive project planning, and prepare communities to more effectively engage with, and benefit from, development on their lands. Drawing on interviews with key informants from the Canadian federal government, the Government of Nunavut, and regional Inuit associations, as well as involvement in a year-long CRI process in one Nunavut community, this paper argues that the CRI process is not, in fact, a community development initiative, but rather a federal subsidy aimed at mapping and enhancing the receptivity of northern communities to extractive development.

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