Power Struggles

Hydro Development and First Nations in Manitoba and Quebec


Power Struggles: Hydro Development and First Nations in Manitoba and Quebec examines the evolution of new agreements between First Nations and Inuit and the hydro corporations in Quebec and Manitoba, including the Wuskwatim Dam Project, Paix des Braves, and the Great Whale Project. In the 1970s, both provinces signed so-called “modern treaties” with First Nations for the development of large hydro projects in Aboriginal territories. In recent times, however, the two provinces have diverged in their implementation, and public opinion of these agreements has ranged from celebratory to outrage. Power Struggles brings together perspectives on these issues from both scholars and activists. In debating the relative merits and limits of these agreements, they raise a crucial question: Is Canada on the eve of a new relationship with First Nations, or do the same colonial attitudes that have long characterized Canadian-Aboriginal relations still prevail?


“This book does what others in the field have not: it places hydro development not only within the contexts of broken treaty obligations, but also the assertion of Indigenous rights and governance as well as the twin economic drivers of omnipresent community poverty and globalization. The authors boldly link First Nations and hydro development to the real issues governing energy decision-making in Canada, such as provincial governments that depend upon revenue generated through hydro development to balance their budgets. …Power Struggles cuts through the green development rhetoric by exposing the details of environmental, social, and local economic destruction left in the wake of our last era of big dams. The result is a scholarly and balanced view exploring whether the treatment of Indigenous peoples has meaningfully improved over time, presented through timely, factual, and engrossing analyses. It should be required reading for anyone truly seeking to understand the struggles faced by those who live with the consequences of North America’s demand for energy.”

MerrellAnn S. Phare, Great Plains Research, Fall 2009

Power Struggles presents a model for how governments can move away from confrontational negotiations premised on hostility and ‘divide and conquer’ to build new ones involving equal partnerships and a fair deal.”

Saskatchewan Law Review, 2009, Vol. 72

About the Authors

Thibault Martin is a professor of Sociology at the Université du Québec en Outaouais and is the author of De la banquise au congélateur: mondialisation et culture au Nunavik.

Steven M. Hoffman is a professor of Political Science at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. He has published several books on energy and environmental policy and has served as a director for several state-wide environmental policy and advocacy organizations.