Encountering settler colonialism in hydroelectric development at Southern Indian Lake

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Djordjevic, Katarina
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This thesis investigates the history and proceedings of the high-level diversion scheme at Southern Indian Lake. Though the scheme did not become a reality because the Progressive Conservative majority government who championed it dissolved before development began, its proceedings signified South Indian Lake’s first colonial encounter with regards to the Churchill River Diversion. Through the high-level diversion discourse, I argue that Manitoba’s Churchill River Diversion reproduces a social policy which creates Indigenous peoples as an Other and asserts settler dominance. It reproduces settler ideologies and fantasies of personhood, entitlement, and (dis)possession which are constitutive of colonial powers. Moreover, it reproduces hydropower as a nexus for colonial practices and ideologies which undermine Indigenous peoples and their land. Chapter One argues that the low-level diversion at Southern Indian Lake created profound negative environmental and socio-cultural impacts. It aims to place in sharp relief the arguments posited for the high-level scheme by its proponents. Chapter Two argues that Manitoba Hydro agents produced a government-supported narrative of urgency for the high-level diversion which circumvented social and environmental responsibilities towards Indigenous lands and Indigenous peoples. And Chapter Three argues that the Progressive Conservative majority government, of the time, embraced and reproduced technocratic and colonial ideologies to press for the high-level diversion. The Churchill River Diversion is a complex of colonial ideologies, government agents, engineers, and resisting Indigenous communities into a cemented structure which continues to alter hydrologies and humanities.
Social Impacts, Churchill River Diversion, South Indian Lake, Hydropower, Environmental Impacts, Politics of Difference, Hydrostructures