Unceded territory and the lawspace of the settler colonial state
– Seraphine Appel

The iconic fountain at the entrance to the parliament building in Victoria, British Columbia (BC), Canada bleeds red. Since January 2020, an Indigenous-led resistance has shaken the country in response to the Coastal GasLink (CGL) proposal to construct a 40-billion-dollar 670-kilometer pipeline to transport liquified natural gas through unceded territory of the Wet’suwet’en Nation in northern BC to a coastal terminal for export to Asia. The Wet’suwet’en movement belongs to the ongoing resistance against Canadian colonialism and fight for Indigenous rights and sovereignty that has been playing out for generations as Indigenous nations demand to be met as that – nations. Canada’s legal landscape has many shadows, and its staging of adherence to the (colonial) rule of law and politics of colonial apology are being powerfully challenged as Indigenous resistance is being joined by the non-Indigenous support of environmental and social justice activism, illuminating colonial hegemonies as well as openings for radical ontological and epistemological shifts.
Colonial lawspace
Place is constructed and delineated through physical and narrative manipulations of space and time. Physically, geographies and ecologies are altered through the introduction of new desires and ways of life that demand different uses of land: rivers are re-routed, forests are cleared or planted, habitats are altered, cities are built, borders are drawn and space is legally stratified and regulated. Narratively, history is told from the dominant perspective and relationships to land are described and redescribed: non-Indigenous Canadians are associated with contemporaneity while Indigenous peoples are mythologized, colonialism is historicised and described as an event rather than an ongoing process, and a national mythology is developed and learned over time through cumulative exposure to living in society. One of the most potent tools of these descriptions and enforcement of spatial understanding is the law. Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos describes the ‘lawscape’ as the tautology between law and space1, and I suggest that contemporary colonial reactions to Indigenous assertions of jurisdiction over land contradicts the state’s rhetoric of colonial apology and renders the Canadian lawscape nebulous. The ongoing anti-colonial resistance challenges the national identity, staging of the state’s politics of apology and allowance, narrative of reconciliation, and apparent adherence to the rule of law.

Image 1. Sabina Dennis stands her ground as police dismantle the barricade to enforce the injunction filed by Coastal GasLink pipeline at the Gidimt’en checkpoint near Houston, British Columbia, on January 7, 2020. Photograph: Amber Bracken. (image used under fair dealing)

Who owns the land?
The body known as Canada was unified from coast to coast to coast in 1867. In 1973, the Calder Decision established the foundation for Aboriginal Title when the Nisga’a went to the Supreme Court to claim their land; the ruling was that their ownership of the territory had existed but the court was evenly split as to whether it had been extinguished. It wasn’t until the Sparrow Decision of 1990 that the court conceded that Indigenous rights had not been annulled when it ruled that the Musqueam did in fact have an ancestral right to fish that had not been extinguished by the Constitution. The Haida Decision of 2004 ruled that as long as there is support of the likelihood of Title, this is sufficient to require the Canadian government to consult and strive to accommodate Indigenous interests even if full Title has not been proven.The first time in Canadian history that the courts granted Aboriginal Title to lands outside of a reserve was in 2014 when eight judges unanimously agreed on the Title of the Tsilhq’ot Nation. However, the landmark 1997 Delgamuukw v British Columbia case affirmed Indigenous claim to unceded land, recognizing that the Wet’suwet’en and Gitxsan had never given up their ancestral territory, rendering the current conflict over Wet’suwet’en territory unlawful colonial occupation of space not only under international and Indigenous legal structures, but also under Canada’s own laws.

Ninety-five percent of the province of BC is unceded territory that has never been signed over in treaty. Although all land that is not privately owned is claimed by the Canadian government as crown land, many Indigenous nations live on and assert jurisdiction over their traditional territories. The state has a history of exploiting the absence of formal treaties to advance resource extraction projects, considering these areas nebulous legal grey zones despite state acknowledgement of the clear assertions of Indigenous sovereignty. Many, however, consider the ceded/unceded dichotomy to be a false one. Even in terms of the territory in which treaties were signed, Métis artist and professor David Garneau suggests that we should consider the concept of conciliation rather than reconciliation:

    Especially from the point of view of Indigenous leaders who signed them in good faith, treaties were nation-to-nation conciliations. Treaties recognize the pre-existing and ongoing sovereignty of the conciliating parties. The understanding is eloquently figured in the two-row wampum belts: two boats – for example, a British ship and an Iroquois canoe – go down the river of life together but do not touch, do not try to steer each other’s vessel. Two communities live parallel to each other and trade, but do not violate each other’s space and customs […] Conciliation is not the erasure of difference or sovereignty. Conciliation is not assimilation. However, because treaties were not entered into in good faith by the colonizers, but were conceived as non-violent means to subdue Indigenous people in order to occupy their land, we ought to reconsider their conceptual value as the firm or only basis for present relations2.

Image 2. Hereditary Chief Freda Huson (Chief Howilhkat) moments before being arrested by the RCMP on February 10, 2020. Brenda Michell (Chief Geltiy), Dr. Karla Tait, and four other Indigenous land defenders were also arrested during ceremony. Photograph: Amber Bracken. (image used under fair dealing)

The Wet’suwet’en consist of five clans who live on and lay claim to jurisdiction of 22,000 square kilometers. Although this territory is recognized as being under their jurisdiction and has been occupied by them for over a thousand years, the Unist’ot’en camp was built in 2010 to make their presence visible and centralized after several attempts were made to pass pipelines through the territory. Encroachment of industry has already dramatically reduced the salmon population on which they rely. The Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs suggested an alternative route that they found acceptable as a pipeline corridor through less ecologically pristine and culturally important areas. As it was more expensive and would take more time, it was rejected by CGL and the fact of the proposal was buried by mainstream media until activist-journalists pressed for investigation of the issue.

Indigenous governmental structures are varied and complex. The Indian Act of 1876 imposed colonial governance structures to divide Indigenous leadership and impose elected political heads to communicate directly with the Canadian government. There are therefore, in some cases, both the elected Band Chiefs who are responsible for the daily life of the community and the territory of the reserves (the colonially imposed system of land distribution) and the traditional Hereditary Chiefs who are responsible for protecting their entire ancestral territories. The Hereditary Chiefs’ pre-reserve system has survived despite all attempts at elimination, and they are responsible for protecting their land for future generations. Although the traditional governance system was overthrown by the Indian Act and replaced with the council system, the traditional system was, crucially, recognized in the Delgamuukw ruling. Under Canadian law, ‘free, informed, and prior consent’ must be given in occupying situations such as this.

However, the state solicited and obtained signatures from the elected band council whose jurisdiction (the reserves) does not extend to the territory in question. Moreover, the monetary incentive to agree amidst the purposefully created endemic poverty of reserves is exacerbated when there is a precedent of building the desired infrastructure (in this case the pipeline) regardless of agreement. Kenneth Deer, Secretary of the Mohawk Nation at Kahnawake and member of the Haudenosaunee external relations committee, explains that the “elected governments are creations of the Canadian government […] the Canadian government created them to destroy our culture, our language, our history, and our inherent rights that we have from time immemorial to the land and the territory” 3. Éric Cardinal, vice-president of Indigenous consulting firm Acosys was “surprised that it’s taking so long for a dialogue to be established with the Hereditary Chiefs […][whose mode of governance] has been recognized by the Supreme Court”4.

Image 3. The Valentine’s Day march honors the lives of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirited people. Thousands marched through Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside on February 14, 2020. Photograph: Dan Toulgoet/Vancouver Courier. (image used under fair dealing)

The conflict: Assertion of sovereignty and agency over territory
The resistance gained momentum on December 31, 2019 when BC Supreme Court Justice Marguerite Church extended an interim CGL injunction legitimizing police presence and forcing the pipeline through the territory without Wet’suwet’en consent, after the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) had already been illegally occupying the territory for over a year. Hereditary Chiefs of all five Wet’suwet’en clans rejected Church’s decision, which effectively criminalized Anucniwh’it’ën (Wet’suwet’en law), and issued and enforced an eviction of CGL workers from the territory on January 4, 2020. Militarized police raids began on February 6. Protests erupted across the country in response. Faced with blatant disregard for Indigenous territory and the rule of law, and the construction of the largest fracking project in the country’s history, the ongoing fight for Indigenous rights coincided with anti-capitalist and environmental activism. Indigenous land protectors and their supporters blockaded the railway system, highways and roads, government offices and parliament buildings, ports, and banks invested in the pipeline project. Indigenous youth occupied the BC legislature. Until the COVID-19 pandemic made mass protests unsafe and new measures allowed the Canadian state to more conveniently clear the streets and blockade sites, supporters vowed to continue the disruptions until the Canadian government met the demands that the RCMP vacate the territory and CGL cease work while Canada and the Wet’suwet’en hold nation-to-nation talks in Wet’suwet’en territory. Hereditary Chief Woos of Cas Yikh (Grizzly House) told CBC on February 20: “We’re not going to talk with guns pointed at our heads,” and in June 2020, RCMP armed with assault weapons began conducting foot patrols around his salmon smokehouse 5. Amidst the pandemic, the pipeline construction was deemed an ‘essential service’ and continued, risking the spread of contagion as workers rotated in and out of man camps on the territory. White supremacist vigilante groups used violent intimidation tactics, and the mainstream negative response to the resistance argued that the inconvenience of the blockades and the inaccessibility of workplaces and places of governance was unacceptable. This compares minor disruptions to the ongoing legacy of colonial genocide; but more interestingly, it agrees with what the Wet’suwet’en and other nations are demanding: uninterrupted access to their homes and places of livelihood and respect for their governance structures.

CGL first announced the project in 2012. Although BC was the first province in Canada to pass legislation to align its laws with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), in November 2019 the provincial government maintained that the project began before this legislation came into effect and that it did not apply retroactively, and the Canadian government postponed passing a federal bill in light of the protests. The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination requested that Canada suspend the CGL pipeline as well as two related sites of conflict: the planned expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline and the Site C dam which would flood an area of 128 kilometers. The Trans Mountain pipeline has been in operation since the 1950s and is fiercely opposed by a parallel resistance from a group known as the Tiny House Warriors of the Secwepemc Nation.

Preliminary talks began between the BC and federal governments and the Wet’suwet’en on February 27, 2020 on Wet’suwet’en territory, but no agreements were reached, and actions and longstanding blockades continued. Indigenous youth maintained their occupation of the BC legislature until their youth leaders were arrested on March 4, the same day that thousands of students across the country walked out of class and rallies were held at over 30 universities. The COVID-19 pandemic added a new risk; an outbreak would quickly overwhelm rural healthcare, and the Union of BC Indian Chiefs released an open letter demanding that work cease on grounds of public health. While most activities in the country were halted, CGL construction accelerated amidst condemnation from legal scholars and health authorities. Resistance tactics evolved from mass protests and infrastructure disruption to the internet and phone lines, and as the global price of oil began to crash, the struggle maintained its pressure on government officials while strengthening its focus on the project’s other investors who could still withdraw their financial support.

The growing resistance also coincided with the 29th Annual Valentine’s Day Women’s March to remember and honor the lives of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirited people (those of other gender identities). This crisis of uninvestigated murders and disappearances has been ongoing since the beginning of colonization and has only just begun to gain mainstream recognition in recent years. One woman at the march, Elizabeth Sam, explained that the march is important because “it brings awareness to people who don’t know that this is still an ongoing genocide, that our women and girls and two-spirit folk are still going missing and being murdered. The systems that are in place are still oppressing us and holding us down. These systems are created to make us fail and not succeed in life, so that we won’t take back our land”6. Indigenous youth, women, and matriarchs have been at the forefront of the struggle, linking the active oppression of Indigenous women to the project of settler colonialism and the attempt to destroy Indigenous connection – and therefore claim – to the land.

Image 4. Red dresses hung along the road near the Unist’ot’en Healing Centre to hold the spirits of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people. Photograph: Amanda Follett Hosgood. (image used under fair dealing)

A breathtaking installation of red dresses hung to honor these lives was put in place in front of the barricade to the checkpoint set up by the Unist’ot’en group of the Wet’suwet’en. Across the barricade read ‘RECONCILIATION’. If the RCMP broke down the barricade, the message was clear that they would be actively destroying reconciliation which has been one of Canada’s favorite accessories to empty political rhetoric. And they did. On February 10, the RCMP invaded the checkpoint and tore down the dresses. The gesture of the reconciliation sign being sawed in half was an anticipated and performatively symbolic moment, as was the tearing down of the dresses, extinguishing of the ceremonial fire, and arrests of the Hereditary Chiefs, matriarchs, and land protectors.
The reconciliation narrative
Although Canada has expressed that it too wants to engage in dialogue in its political rhetoric surrounding ‘the desire for reconciliation’, the government stalled its advances to meet for talks with the Hereditary Chiefs. Prominent Mohawk activist Ellen Gabriel stated at a recent public lecture at Queen’s University that Indigenous nations do not need Canada’s permission to protect their lands as they see fit, and that “reconciliation never truly started. Reconciliation is about reparation and restitution. If we look at what’s happening today, the exact opposite is happening […] There have been a lot of flowery words by prime ministers since the (residential schools) apology, but the reality is quite contrary. Reconciliation has to be alive before we can call it dead”7. Moreover, the concept of ‘reconciliation’, argues Garneau, “is constrained by non-Indigenous narratives of healing and closure; by Western religious ideology (the Catholic rite of reconciliation and the Christian concepts of forgiveness)”8.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada was established in 2008 as one of the mandated aspects of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement of 2007. It ended in 2015 after a one-year extension. The residential school system was a state and church-led effort to destroy Indigenous communities and assimilate the children into Euro-Canadian society. Early residential schools in Upper Canada and New France became part of government and church policy in the 1830s and were fully established as educational policy by 1880. Children were forcibly removed from their families and communities and forced to attend Christian boarding schools. The physical, sexual, and psychological abuse, death, malnutrition, disease, and loss of culture and language are well documented, as is the intergenerational trauma and ongoing violence of colonialism stemming from these and other colonial efforts. The last residential school was not closed until 1996. The first line of their mandate on the TRC website reads: “There is an emerging and compelling desire to put the events of the past behind us so that we can work towards a stronger and healthier future”9. Garneau asks whose desire this is, as when it is read as a colonial desire, ‘reconciliation’ is merely “a continuation of the settlement narrative”10. Unlike TRCs elsewhere, it was not a federal or state-led initiative but part of a legal settlement between various residential school survivor groups, the Assembly of First Nations, various Church bodies, and Canada. Because of this, it had no powers of subpoena, no power to accuse perpetrators or seek accountability, and no power to offer amnesty; therefore testimony came almost exclusively from survivors.

Image 5. Signs are posted on a fence as supporters maintain a railway blockade in St. Lambert, Québec. Photograph: Christinne Muschi/Reuters. (image used under fair dealing)

The Wet’suwet’en resistance and alliance between Indigenous nations
“Reconciliation is dead” is one of the most important rallying cries of the movement. The call to “shut down Canada” names the tactic of halting the economy and its supporting infrastructure. “All eyes on Wet’suwet’en” expresses the necessity of exposing the conflict and making the world bear witness to the actions of the Canadian government to hold it accountable. These tactics — calling attention to the vacuity of the reconciliation narrative, causing maximum non-violent disruption with minimal bodies, and establishing national and international visibility — have proven to be powerful strategies in demanding accountability for the colonial government’s inconsistencies and the ongoing capitalist intrusion into Indigenous territory.

Image 6. One of the most iconic images from the ‘Oka Crisis’ of 1990. Royal 22nd Regiment perimeter sentry Patrick Cloutier faces off against Mohawk Warrior and University of Saskatchewan student Brad Larocque. Photograph: Shaney Komulainen. (image used under fair dealing)

Disrupting colonial space: “Shut down Canada”
Although the blockades crippled the railway system, many were carried out by very small groups. This has proven to be an extremely effective tactic as, in the words of Yellowknives Dene UBC professor Glen Coulthard, they were able to “exert maximum pressure with minimal amount of people”11. Critical Theory professor Saladdin Ahmed argues that the state’s domination of space should be described as totalitarian: Not only does the state maintain its symbolic power and social order through the subdivision of public space into spaces of leisure, shopping, entertainment, and so on, but it treats public space as its own private space and the body comes under violent attack when it challenges the spatial economy, reacting with disproportionate force “against people who are often carrying nothing but banners. Even in the most democratic countries, demonstrations that try to accomplish even a partial debourgeoisification of space are met with the deployment of the armed forces”12. Indigenous resistance in Canada has a history of disrupting colonial spaces through small but economically-devastating blockades. One of the strongholds of the current resistance is held by the Mohawk nation in what are known as the provinces of Ontario and Québec. The Mohawk have an active history of resistance against the state, and some have argued that the Canadian government’s greater initial reluctance to forcibly remove the Mohawk resistance than the Wet’suwet’en was due to the more publicly-recognized history of Mohawk anti-colonial resistance and the haunting shadow of the conflict known as the Oka Crisis.

Image 7. Police officers making an arrest during a raid on a Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory camp near a railway crossing in Tyendinaga, Ontario, February 24, 2020. Photograph: Chris Helgren/Reuters. (image used under fair dealing)

In the summer of 1990, the town of Oka was developing plans to expand a municipal golf course and develop luxury condos in unceded Mohawk territory. A resistance group known as the Warriors from the Kanesatake reserve erected barricades and blocked access to the area that would later become known as The Pines. An injunction was issued by the Superior Court of Québec and the Sûreté du Québec was sent by the mayor to dismantle the barricade. Shots were fired on both sides. On the other side of the St. Lawrence River, in Kahnawake, another group of Warriors blocked the Mercier Bridge, and Indigenous solidarity from around the country turned it into a national crisis. The Canadian army replaced the Sûreté du Québec and positioned four thousand soldiers with tanks and helicopters around Kahnawake and Kanesatake. The army bulldozed through the barricades, but it took a further 24 days before the Warriors were forced to surrender; the siege lasted 78 days, and the ‘Club de Golf Oka’ remains a 9-hole course to this day.

“Today, we’re a lot more conscious of the colonial heritage. We understand that Indigenous Peoples form Nations. And when we’re dealing with different Nations, using firearms is equivalent to a declaration of war,” explained Pierre Trudel, a researcher with the Canada Research Chair in Québec and Canadian Studies. “The government learned not to pick a fight with us,” said Deer in response to the governments apparent hesitation in facing the Mohawk blockades13. The economic impacts of the current conflict are much greater than they were in 1990 as the resistance has the ability “to shut down critical infrastructure and put an end to business as usual” (Molly Wickham, Sleydo Nation)14.

 Challenging the colonial rhetoric: “Reconciliation is dead”
Another strategy of the resistance is the uncovering of explicit contradictions between the reconciliation narrative and the actions of the Canadian government. A recent investigation obtained internal emails, memos, and confidential briefing notes revealing that representatives of major resource industries and the Canadian government had discussed projective tactics for the ‘surrender’ of Indigenous land rights in the immediate wake of the 1997 Delgamuukw Decision. They sought ways to fight land rights with legal challenges, curb direct action or litigation from Indigenous parties, and to use federal money intended for the ‘healing of residential school survivors’ to make treaty negotiations more attractive15. It seems clear that the present federal Trudeau and the provincial Horgan governments are implementing these very tactics as they try to introduce new policy mechanisms and ‘reconciliation agreements’. The end result – unlawful disregard for reconciliation principles – remains the same.

Explicit assertions of sovereignty accompany the denunciations of the reconciliation narrative. As the longest rail shutdown in Canadian history was entering its eighth day, the people of Tyendinaga stated in response to the injunction served:

    We the people refuse to have the laws of the Canadian nation-state imposed upon us. We have, and have always had our own laws and customs, prior to, during and after Canada’s attempts at genocide and assimilation. A paper ordering us to vacate our own land, and/or allow passage of foreign goods through our territory is meaningless. We will stand our ground, and as stated, not leave until the RCMP pull out of Wet’suwet’en traditional territories 16.

Provoking awareness: “All eyes on Wet’suwet’en”
Demanding accountability by generating visibility is a strategy used by resistance movements globally to gain traction by reaching a wider audience, recently growing in effectiveness as systemic racism and police violence are in the spotlight across North America, and as social media coverage becomes an evermore powerful tool. In Canada, the Idle No More movement, which began in 2012 among Treaty People in the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta protesting against the government’s dismantling of environmental protection laws, has grown through social media into a continent-wide network. Reaching an international audience creates solidarity from similar struggles elsewhere and garners support from international bodies such as the United Nations’ Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination who have joined the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs in calling upon the RCMP to withdraw from their territories. Stó:lō scholar Dylan Robinson suggests that to recognize the miseducation of the settler Canadian public, “we might consider using a phrase that names the continued ignorance of Indigenous histories and the lack of civic responsibility for what it is: intergenerational perpetration17. I (the author), am a settler who lived for the majority of my life on unceded Indigenous territories in Canada within a structure built on ongoing colonial violence and Indigenous land dispossession. Internally, visibility creates openings for a reeducation of those who are unaware of the historical and ongoing colonial violence.

Image 8. A child waves a Mohawk flag at a Toronto demonstration in support of the pipeline protests and rail blockades, February 22, 2020. Photograph: Richard Lautens/Toronto Star via Getty Images. (image used under fair dealing)

Possible futures: Implications of what the movement demands
Mohawk scholar Gerald Taiaike Alfred told the Georgia Straight newspaper on February 13 that he could “remember saying […] that if we ever had a development in our movement where the power of Indigenous nationhood and Indigenous rights could be melded and brought together with the power of young Canadians who are committed to the environment and social justice, it would be revolutionary”18. I agree that this is what we are witnessing. There has been some mischaracterization of the movement as an anti-pipeline protest when the most animating issue is, arguably, claim to jurisdiction over land. However, this meeting of intentions allows for important dialogue about what living in an environmentally responsible way looks like and what lifeworlds are possible. The fights for Indigenous sovereignty and the environment are intimately linked.

The Wet’suwet’en Strong movement and its support is a radical challenge to the settler colonial state, as well as to the hegemonic capitalist global order. As this public conflict plays out, the space known as Canada is being faced with a rapidly changing political landscape and lawscape. I suggest that this offers not only the illumination of oppressive state structures that are breaking their own laws and international norms, but of the fact that this is a colonial occupation in which law and land distribution are being violently imposed on nations with existing legal structures, governance systems, and territorial jurisdiction. This multiplicity of the goals of environmental activism and anti-capitalist sentiment, social justice, and Indigenous resistance working in tandem illuminates some issues as well as openings for ontological and epistemological shifts as people challenge ways of being and question the validity of mainstream Western knowledge production. This is important not only for reasons of social justice, but because Indigenous legal and knowledge systems protect the land, water, air, and all forms of life, which is in everyone’s best interest, and many of the struggles to continue traditional land caretaking succeed. In 2001, for example, the Innu Nation signed an agreement to share in the management of provincial forests using traditional stewardship practices. In 2008, the Dene of Lutsel K’e launched the Ni Hat’ni Dene (Watching the Land) program to care for millions of acres. In 2016, after a twenty-year battle, the Heiltsuk Nation succeeded in protecting the Great Bear Rainforest in a way that incorporates Indigenous ecological knowledge. Indigenous peoples have halted dangerous pipeline projects in the past, and they are fighting to do so again. In 2020, the Unist’ot’en and Gidimt’en Clans of the Wet’suwet’en Nation have flagged concerns that have forced the the BC Environmental Assessment Office to show that CGL failed to follow environmental protocol, and the pipeline project is continually being set back.

What Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos calls ‘spatial justice’ responds to the “conflict between bodies that are moved by a desire to occupy the same space at the same time. This is neither merely distributive justice, nor regional democracy, but an embodied desire that presents itself ontologically;”19 it is a reorientation of space such that “bodies can fit in better with each other”20. The decolonial struggle in Canada is a conflict for jurisdiction over territory, but it is also a conflict of fundamentally incompatible attitudes towards land: an industrial capitalist structure which views the land as a means for resource extraction, and a structure in which the land is cared for and maintained for present and future generations. Whatever spatial justice looks like, I suggest that it undeniably begins with respecting Indigenous sovereignty and agency over land.

1. Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, A. (2015). Spatial justice: Body, Lawscape, Atmosphere. London: Routledge.
2. Garneau, D. (2016). Imaginary spaces of conciliation and reconciliation: Art, curation, and healing. In Arts of Engagement: Taking Aesthetic Action in and Beyond the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. (Robinson, D. & Keavy, M., Eds.). Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, pp. 31.
3. Clavel, E. (February 21, 2020). Oka crisis looms over Mohawk rail blockades. HuffPost Canada.
4. Ibid.
5. Circulated by the Unist’ot’en Solidarity Brigade, email to author, July 1, 2020.
6. Quoted in the online material circulated by the Unist’ot’en Solidarity Brigade, email to author, February 14, 2020.
7. Hale, A. S. (March 4, 2020). Reconciliation isn’t dead. It was never alive, Mohawk activist says. The Kingston Whig Standard.
8. Garneau, D. (2016). Imaginary spaces. In Arts of Engagement. pp. 23-24.
9. Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Our Mandate. [online]. Available at: http://www.trc.ca/about-us/our-mandate.html (archived website).
10. See: Garneau, D. (2016). Imaginary spaces. In Arts of Engagement. pp. 31. And Pablo, C. (February 19, 2020). Blockades a genius assertion of Indigenous power: UBC-based First Nations thinker Glen Coulthard. Georgia Straight.
11. Ahmed, S. (2019). Totalitarian Space and the Destruction of Aura. New York: SUNY Press, pp. 59.
12. Clavel, E. (2020). Oka crisis. HuffPost Canada.
13. Wickham, M. (February 12, 2020). The Wet’suwet’en fight against new pipeline spreads across Canada with blockades & occupations. Democracy Now. (Interview transcript).
14. Lukacs, M., Pasternak, S. (February 7, 2020). Industry, government pushed to abolish Aboriginal title at issue in Wet’suwet’en stand-off, docs reveal. The Narwhal.
15. Circulated by the Unist’ot’en Solidarity Brigade, email to author, February 14, 2020.
16. Robinson, D. (2016). Intergenerational sense, intergenerational responsibility. In Arts of Engagement: Taking Aesthetic Action in and Beyond the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. (Robinson, D. & Keavy, M., Eds.). Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, pp. 63, emphasis in original.
17. Pablo, C. (2020). Wet’suwet’en protests. Georgia Straight.
18. Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, A. (2015). Spatial justice: Body, lawscape, atmosphere, pp. 3,
19. Ibid, pp. 1.

Seraphine Appel is a doctoral candidate at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, Spain. Her work relates philosophy of aesthetic atmosphere to decolonial theory and explores how colonial projects and attitudes shape oppressive ambiances through physical and narrative manipulations of space and time. Her childhood was spent in Canada and Asia and her formation in philosophy and art took place in North America and Europe. A Canadian of European parents, her perspective is that of a settler and her philosophical project is a deconstruction of settler colonial ideologies, rooted in the investigation of an aesthetic topology of settler spaces and understandings of time and history in Canada.


Volume 3, no. 3 Autumn 2020