Canadian Environments: Essays in Culture, Politics and History

Article excerpt

Robert C. Thomsen and Nanette L. Hale (eds), Canadian Environments: Essays in Culture, Politics and History (Brussels: Peter Lang Publishing Group, 2005), 316pp. Paper. £26.90. ISBN 90-5201-295-7.

This volume arises out of the VII Triennial Conference of the Nordic Association of Canadian Studies (NACS) in Stockholm in 2002 entitled 'Old Environments - New Environments'. It contains 20 articles arranged in four parts: 'Old and New Environments Meet: Aboriginal Canada'; 'Canada in the Global Environment'; 'Natural(?) Environments'; and 'Visualising Environments'. [See also the review below of Britta Olinder (ed.), Literary Environments: Canada and the Old World, which covers the literary papers from the same conference.]

Part I, 'Old and New Environments Meet: Aboriginal Canada', is prefaced by a brief synopsis of the evolution of Nunavut by Peter Irniq, Commissioner of Nunavut. Melissa Williams gives a descriptive narrative of past aboriginal participation in Canada's political institutions. Harmut Lutz recounts the disgraceful episode of the exhibiting of two families of Inuit from Labrador - one baptised, one 'heathen' - in Germany in the 1880s. Peter Dörrenbächer explains how some of the shortcomings of the 1975 James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement have been rectified by the 2002 Agreement between le Gouvernement du Québec and the Crees of Québec. David Harding speculates that economic self-sufficiency for aboriginals may increase native integration into the Canadian society at large. Patrik Lannto compares native school policies in Canada and Sweden. Clarice Rudkowski, in a paper pre-edited by Elin Elgaard, presents the views of a native Labradorian Métis on the past and planned hydro developments of the Labrador Churchill River.

Part II, 'Canada in the Global Environment', is prefaced by a short article by Mary Simon, Canada's Ambassador for Circumpolar Affairs, arguing for the importance of international governance of the North in Canadian foreign policy. David Haglund gives a conceptual analysis of 'continentalism' and notes that, paradoxically, it may bring Canada and Europeans closer together if Canada has privileged access into the US. Réjean Pelletier gives a comparative study of minorities in the federated states of Canada, Spain and Switzerland. John Erik Fossum discusses three metaphors in their Canadian context - 'two scorpions in a bottle', 'eleven elephants in a maze', and 'the three equalities' - and notes how the Canadian debates on federalism have provided insights into the possibilities and limits of federalism as a way of life. …