Subsistence in the Hudson Bay bioregion : land use, economy and ethos

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Fast, Helen B.
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Canada's subsistence societies exist at the margins of the dominant Euro-Canadian society, continually buffeted by the political, economic, cultural and social forces of the larger society. Their presence was perceived to impede the flow of settlers across the country in the nineteenth century and continues to be a source of irritation and frustration a century later. The purpose of this research is to study subsistence in arctic and subarctic areas of the Hudson Bay bioregion, Its objectives are to evaluate the validity of land use studies documenting subsistence land use practices; to characterize the economies and ethos of subsistence societies; and to assess the extent, persistence and future viability of these societies, Three case studies support the analysis.The first case study based on York Factory First Nation in North Central Manitoba, adopts a historical focus, The second is a spatial analysis of the contemporary land use of the Omushkego Cree in Northern Ontario. The third assesses the types of demands to be placed on the Inuit of Nunavut as they assume resource management responsibilities. The study found that: (l) different land use studies for the same area produce consistent results; (2) subsistence societies continue to harvest bush food, often over extensive ancestral hunting grounds; (3) the value-in-kind of bush food is significant relative to the overall economy of northern regions; (4) the ethos of subsistence societies in the Hudson Bay bioregion continue to be based on strong bonds of kinship and close relations with the land. The study concluded that (l) land use studies are replicable and are an appropriate methodology for establishing land use over time; (2) analyses of subsistence economies premised on the commoditisation of land and labor are inadequate; (3) there is no inherent incompatibility between the application of modern technological resource management strategies and subsistence ethos, provided the choice and application of technologies is not imposed; (4) a fundamental distinction between subsistence ethos and the ethos of the larger society is that the former does not allow for the commoditisation of human labor and land; and (5) subsistence ethos will be severely challenged in the transition to self-government,