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Relationship to the Land (Use Planning Provisions)

    Mapping IOL and resource rights in Nunavut.

    As part of an ongoing investigation into resource development and waste in Nunavut, I created a large embroidered tapestry entitled Relationship to the Land (Use Planning Provisions), that depicts a map of Inuit Owned Lands in Nunavut, or a lone figure on the tundra. The title is adapted from Article 12, Part 3 of the Land Claims Agreement (brackets my own addition), which I thought was interesting and troubling because it is the only mention in the whole document of a relationship to land. The pink areas are Inuit owned lands with surface rights, and the red are Inuit owned lands with subsurface rights, as defined in the Land Claims Agreement. As a settler-Canadian, this process helped me think through the relationship between resource development, colonialism, and environmental racism. While meticulously rendering the map in thousands of knots tied over the course of ten months, I questioned the values that led to this map being an output of that agreement in the first place. The outcomes of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement are more beneficial than other Crown/Indigenous relationships in Canada, but this says more about the woeful agreements between the Crown and other Indigenous peoples (and bearing in mind that many Indigenous nations across Canada never signed agreements or ceded their territory) than it does about the merits of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. Reinscribing Inuit identity as “property holders” is a colonial move that can never repair past wrongs. The ongoing focus on resources demonstrates how geology is used to uphold racialized relations in power and to enact dispossession (Yussof, 2018: 17).