You are treaty, too: Revisiting Chief Spence’s call to action and the Idle No More Movement through community-engaged research

This presentation will explore the theme of treaty relations that animates Dr. Sarah Marie Wiebe’s recently published book with UBC Press (2023): Life against States of Emergency: Revitalizing Treaty Relations from Attawapiskat. It revisits the emergence of the Idle No More movement, highlighting Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence’s ceremonial fast of 2012–13. At the core of the book lies the question that Chief Spence posed to the Canadian public, which has significant political implications for researchers and members of the civil service: What does it mean to be in a treaty relationship today? Through extensive community-engaged research with members of the Attawapiskat Nation and drawing from disciplines such as critical discourse analysis, ecofeminist and Indigenous studies, as well as art, activism, and mixed media storytelling, this presentation will elaborate how the book advances a transformative approach to treaty relationships, grounded in the lived-experiences, voices and perspectives of Indigenous artists and community leaders.

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Life against States of Emergency: Revitalizing Treaty Relations from Attawapiskat

by Sarah Marie Wiebe

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About the Author

Dr. Sarah Marie Wiebe grew up on Coast Salish territory in British Columbia and is an Assistant Professor in the School of Public Administration at the University of Victoria and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Hawai’i, Mānoa with a focus on community development and environmental sustainability. She is a Co-Founder of the Feminist Environmental Research Network and author of recently published Life against States of Emergency: Revitalizing Treaty Relations from Attawapiskat. Her first book Everyday Exposure: Indigenous Mobilization and Environmental Justice in Canada’s Chemical Valley won the Charles Taylor Book Award and examines policy responses to the impact of pollution on the Aamjiwnaang First Nation’s environmental health. At the intersections of environmental justice and public engagement, her teaching and research interests emphasize interpretive policy analysis, community-engagement and deliberative democracy. For more about her scholarship and mixed media storytelling projects see:

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