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Protectors of the North: The Militarization of the Canadian Rangers and Inuit Land in the North - Bianca Romagnoli

Partie de:
2:30 PM, Vendredi 4 Oct 2019 (30 minutes)
In 2007, former Prime Minister Stephen Harper stood in the small Arctic town of Nanisivik, Nunavut and gave his famous speech declaring that Canada must “use it or lose it” referring to Canada’s need to create clear delineations of what land, water and ice in the north belongs to Canada. This declaration came months after Russia and the European Union made public and political moves to establish ownership of the Arctic. As Canada

made a push for “Arctic sovereignty.” Canadian Rangers, whose mandate is to patrol Arctic and sub-Arctic space on behalf of Canada, have become increasingly implicated in this state-building project. With their signature red sweaters and .303 Lee-Enfield rifles, Canadian Rangers have become an established military presence in some of Canada’s most remote regions. Due to their geographic location and unique living conditions, Rangers, part of the 1st Canadian Ranger Patrol Group (1CRPG) in Canada’s three northern territories, are comprised of predominantly Indigenous personnel. This paper will trace the historical development of the Rangers as they transformed from a pseudo-militia, to protect Canada from a potential northern invasion during the Cold War, into an established military presence meant to reinforce Canadian sovereignty in the region. Therefore, this research asks: how has the shifting geopolitical climate influenced the militarization of the Arctic by the Canadian government? Furthermore, how does Ranger work— which has historically been viewed as non-combative—become part of this militarized process? To explore this positional shift, this project investigates how Canadian Rangers are enfolded into a state-making process as informants of cultural and geographical knowledge. Finally, how does the existence of Indigenous Rangers knowledge allow for the militarization of the north?

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