Archives, record keeping, and Indigenous knowledge: issues concerning hydro development in northern Manitoba

Thumbnail Image
Neckoway, Robin
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
There are many stories yet to be told about the development of hydroelectric power in Northern Manitoba. Increasingly, accounts of Indigenous people have been coming to light in hearings for the Needs For and Alternatives To, and The Clean Environment Commission. What is more, research has been increasingly conducted around the disturbing accounts of Hydro development reported by Indigenous people. Yet curiously, there is still little to be told through the province’s archives about the true impact of hydro development on the province’s social, political, and economic history. Historically, the official narrative has mainly focused on the dams and their placement, with narrow economic benefits and efficient management in mind. Here, the focus of development has largely ignored the sacrifices incurred by citizens—namely, Indigenous peoples. However, Indigenous people have steadfastly claimed that there are gaps and fissures in these accounts, and that the official narrative does not tell the true story behind the personal impacts of development bought through the devastation to the environment, and the land-based economies that once made up the social fabric of the north—let alone, the colonial violence which has come along with it. This thesis is about knowledge, power, archives, and colonialism. It seeks to address distortions within the province’s archival record and explores accounts of Hydro development. It highlights the dangers posed by absences and silences by interrogating the gaps found within the official archive. It suggests these absences are not only a danger to societal memory, social justice, and democratic oversight; but contribute to the ongoing colonial project by making it easy to deny or distort any knowledge essential to broader contextualizations behind the dispossession, displacement, and colonial violence, that has gone into hydro development. Additionally, it further suggests that there is a need to rethink the orientation of the official record to include Indigenous voices, which are largely absent and should be included within the contexts of the appraisal process.