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Land-Use Planning in Canada’s North—Give It Up  

Hayden King, 2009–10 Scholar-in-Residence Research Co-Chair
May 12, 2010

The 2010 CIBC Scholar-in-Residence Program brings together nationally renowned academic scholars to assess the effectiveness of land-use planning in Canada’s North. Thomas Berger, Steven Kennett, and Hayden King are examining this issue from three very different perspectives. This year’s program is also a unique joint venture with the Board’s new Centre for the North. The scholars will present their views at the CIBC Scholar-in-Residence lecture, Canada’s North—What’s the Plan?, on May 12, 2010, in Whitehorse, Yukon.

Hayden King has served as the senior policy advisor to Ontario’s minister of Aboriginal affairs and as the director of research for the Canadian Council on Aboriginal Business. For the past three years, he has taught in the Indigenous Studies Program at McMaster University. His research is increasingly focused on the division between environmentalists and Indigenous peoples, particularly on the issue of conservation policy. He also studies economic development and corporate social responsibility in relation to Indigenous peoples, and the way Indigenous peoples are represented in the mainstream media.

A regular contributor to The Globe and Mail, The National Post, and the Toronto Star, Mr. King actively engages in the national dialogue on Indigenous issues. A member of the Beausoleil First Nation of Chimnissing, he is of the Bear Clan and is proud of both his Anishnawbe and European heritage.

InsideEdge: Why should Canadians in all parts of the country—not just the North—care about land-use planning in Northern Canada?

Hayden King: Not only should Canadians start caring about land-use planning in the North, but they should also start caring about the North generally. For far too long, those of us in the South have had a tangential relationship with the North: this distant, mysterious, final frontier of a place. But the North is our future. I don't mean that in an economic, strictly resource-use manner. Rather, it is the recognition that our past and present are also found in the North. We are a Northern nation.

And because we are a Northern nation, we should have a very real and sincere desire to understand what goes on in the North. Decisions are made every day that require our attention: the creation of a uranium mine in caribou calving grounds, the continued stagnation of real empowerment for Indigenous peoples, a hesitation to address climate change. How we talk about the North and make decisions regarding the North might be the single most important discussion in Canada today.

Not only should Canadians start caring about land-use planning in the North, but they should also start caring about the North generally.

InsideEdge: What is your key argument about land-use planning in the North?

Hayden King: Land-use planning in the North is not working and needs more than fixing. It needs comprehensive revising, perhaps even the construction of an entirely different regime. While the system may work for industry, government, and conservation organizations, Indigenous peoples lack meaningful participation.

The current regime restricts the decision-making power of the people whose territory is subject to planning by limiting effective consultation regarding development. It also leads to the bureaucratization of Indigenous peoples through Canadian institutional processes, which further restricts real self-determination. Finally, land-use planning and resource management currently ignore Indigenous cultural perspectives on ecology and the economy.

InsideEdge: Under your vision of effective land resource management in the North, what is the role of governments? What is the role of businesses? What role can Aboriginal communities play in this process?

Hayden King: If the current regime were to be substantively revised, governments would help facilitate a decentralized process led by members of the communities that are the most likely to be affected by land-use decisions. Business would abide by the decisions of the community and support long-term relationships with those communities affected by development. Indigenous peoples would lead the new process by inspiring the organization and creation of dynamic and flexible systems of cooperative decision-making about lands and resources in their respective territories.

Hayden King
2009–10 CIBC Scholar-in-Residence Research Co-Chair
2010 Scholar-in-Residence Lecture: Canada’s North—What’s the Plan?

Related Publications 
Territorial Outlook January 2010
True to Their Visions: An Account of 10 Successful Aboriginal Businesses

Related Executive Networks
Centre for the North