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Indigenous People's clam fisheries access, management, and governance in the Broughton Archipelago, British Columbia: Tradition, adaptation, and the potential for a future

Resource type
Thesis type
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Date created
Author: Ladell, Neil
As Canada enters an era of truth and reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, access, management, and governance of fisheries resources have been areas of tension. These tensions are often deeply rooted in centuries of conflict and questions of legitimacy of federal authority over Indigenous Peoples' fisheries. Before we can reach a place where we are effectively negotiating reconciliation, truth requires us to understand Indigenous Peoples' practices before contact, how their practices were disrupted, and how the practices were adapted when confronted by colonialism, capitalism, and associated resource extraction and management practices. In this dissertation I use a small but culturally significant intertidal clam fishery in the Broughton Archipelago, British Columbia, as a case study of how local Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw people's relationships with their clam beaches have been disrupted and altered since pre-contact, and how they have responded, resisted, adapted, and ultimately embarked on an effort to reclaim these relationships. I argue that, despite previous failures to establish a local clam co-management arrangement, the recent decline in the commercial intertidal clam fishery in the Broughton Archipelago has the potential to be an opportunity for the federal government to work with local Indigenous groups to re-examine and re-create the fishery in a manner that aligns with reconciliation principles. I draw from historical literature to identify ways in which colonialism and capitalism affected local Indigenous People's clam harvesting and management practices in the Broughton Archipelago, both directly (e.g., through the commercialization of the intertidal clam fishery) and indirectly (e.g., by cultural suppression and spread of disease). Using qualitative methods, I document the cultural and territorial significance that Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw attach to clam harvesting, even as the practice declines. I conclude that understanding the role of maya'xa̱la (respect) as a guiding principle for local Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw helps explain why federal clam fisheries management and efforts at co-management have yet to succeed in the Broughton Archipelago. Adapting local Indigenous People's management of clam beaches could help resolve some of the issues within the current management approach, while also supporting long-term cultural revitalization, social-ecological resilience, and the negotiation of reconciliation.
135 pages.
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This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes.
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Pinkerton, Evelyn
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