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Leveraging Change: Re-negotiating Narratives

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11:00 AM, Friday 27 May 2022 (20 minutes)

The Canadian landscape has been romantically mythologized as wild and free, and its’ manifestation in cartographical and economic terms. The cartographical project, the Geological Survey of Canada of 1842, mapped, described, recorded, and assessed natural resources, specifically mineral rights of the province of Canada. They traveled the so-called uncharted wilderness by horse, foot, or canoe, recommending expansions and infrastructural investments that reinforced the colonial destiny, from sea to shining sea, from the Artic to the Great Lakes, the Pacific to the Atlantic. These lines on a map delimit the territory – the edge of land to water – ice, snow, and tidal zones, that define as much as defy its capture. Its’ borders, the bounds of territorial definition, are also captured in this myth of origin – wild and free. Canada’s prosperity is based on this myth, laid bare in legal documents of speculation, an exchange bound in ownership that exchanged wilderness for resource. In 2018, only 23% of Canada’s land habitats remain wild yet under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP)), air, soil and water are held in common and are not owned (inherent rights of Indigenous people (i.e., prior to European settlement) therefore it is and never was ours to be parceled and as settlers we have no absolute ownership. These myths create a double-edged narrative that must be readdressed.

As advancements in geomorphological mapping and climate change have led to conflicts between individual ownership and a race to develop that counter both as our collective identity and futures, this paper engages a form of mapping as a that counter concepts of measure/value and boundaries. The pressure due to human activities and the causal effect (climate change) on natural forces already are challenging these notions. This paper uses examples of two natural resources and conditions of wilderness in the Maritimes: i) the estuary/ocean; and ii) the forest where the design project seeds a re- negotiation between land and water, ecological conditions, and ownership models. It utilizes the map to contest colonial/modernist concepts readdressing our mythical origins -- wild and free – as opportunities to reconstitute relationships between cultural constructs and natural systems. Situating the physical spatial-temporal scalar dimensions, actor groups and multiple narratives together, it uncovers intersectional (multiple & mattered) traces within the deep surface, and using ideas of the collective (social, economic, and environmental) it adapts colonial concepts of ownership, commodity, and valuation for narratives of sustainable stewardship models that are inclusive, engaging the multiple mattered and lived stories of place, nature, and wonder.


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