Territoire et société

Indigenous minorities on major northern worksites: employment, space of encounter, sense of place

Guimond, L., Desmeules, A., «Indigenous minorities on major northern worksites: employment, space of encounter, sense of place», Geoforum. 97: 219-230, 2018.

 

This article studies the everyday lives of Indigenous workers at the Romaine River hydroelectric project, in the heart of the Innu ancestral territory in northern Quebec (Canada), to better understand their place in northern resource development. Using a qualitative approach based on in-depth interviews with workers and key players, both indigenous and non-indigenous, we draw on three perspectives to examine the actual situation of the indigenous people at the construction site: employment; intercultural space of encounter; and sense of place. Our analysis reveals that professional, social and spatial exclusionary practices remain, despite integration measures, awareness-raising efforts, services and infrastructures dedicated to Indigenous workers and likely intercultural interactions. The numerical minority of Indigenous workers, the undervalued jobs they occupy, the many socio-professional difficulties they encounter, the hard adaptation to lifestyle on the worksite, prejudice, discrimination and racism confine them to the margins of these major projects. Part of a wider critical reflection on neocolonialism, our analysis of the workers’ everyday lives questions the current neoliberal resource development model in indigenous territories.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geoforum.2018.09.007