Dumpcano: Waste Management and Environmental Justice in Iqaluit
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On May 20, 2014, the Iqaluit dump lit itself on fire, burning for 178 days. ‘Dumpcano’ as it was nicknamed, cannot be seen in isolation: Iqaluit is surrounded by unremediated dump sites, left behind from both the Canadian and American military and passed to a municipality that is overwhelmed with social problems. This thesis will use the infrastructure around waste—there is no recycling or separation of waste in the Territory, and the majority of dumps across Nunavut regularly burn garbage, a practice that’s been discontinued in the rest of the country—to address issues of identity, sovereignty and how the doctrine of Terra Nullius created the circumstances for the institutional neglect that led to the dump fire. This thesis will explore how ideologies, ideas, policies and practices emergent from settler colonial circumstances in Southern Canada were applied to the North in inappropriate ways. This tension around how the imagined image of the North has affected policy is accessible through my discussion of the growth of consumption culture in the North, while at the same time Canadian identity has been shaped by the image of the empty Arctic. While the Inuit of Nunavut were never under the Indian Act, their citizenship was founded not on equality but on the use of their habitation as an expression of Canadian sovereignty, which has grown increasingly relevant as Arctic nations debate who owns the Arctic and the oil beneath, and the Northwest Passage continues to melt. This thesis will explore the toxic legacy in Iqaluit and provide recommendations for Canada’s future.