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Agrarian repair : agriculture, race and accumulation in contemporary Canada and South Africa Sommerville, Melanie 2019

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AGRARIAN REPAIR: AGRICULTURE, RACE, AND ACCUMULATION IN CONTEMPORARY CANADA AND SOUTH AFRICA  by  Melanie Sommerville  B.Sc. Honours, University of Guelph, 2000 M.A., Carleton University, 2006  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF  DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE AND POSTDOCTORAL STUDIES (Geography)  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver)  May 2019 © Melanie Sommerville, 2019 ii   The following individuals certify that they have read, and recommend to the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies for acceptance, the dissertation entitled:  Agrarian Repair: Agriculture, Race, and Accumulation in Contemporary Canada  and South Africa  submitted by Melanie Sommerville in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Geography  Examining Committee: Dr. Philippe Le Billon, Geography Co-supervisor Dr. Jim Glassman, Geography Co-supervisor  Dr. Merje Kuus, Geography Supervisory Committee Member Dr. Juanita Sundberg, Geography University Examiner Dr. Hannah Wittman, Land and Food Systems University Examiner  Additional Supervisory Committee Members:  Supervisory Committee Member  Supervisory Committee Member iii  Abstract This dissertation explores certain agricultural investment projects emerging early in the new millennium which I term ‘agrarian repair’ projects. Proponents of these projects present them as binding together two distinct ‘fixes’. First, they seek to repair processes of capital accumulation and value preservation, always uncertain but freshly destabilized by the 2007/8 financial crisis. Second, they attempt to repair histories of colonial and racial injustice, often codified as resulting in and from a particular group’s historical ‘exclusion’ from agriculture and consequently larger national economies. I examine ‘agrarian repair’ projects at two sites, one in Canada and one in South Africa, where financial investors partnered with racialized, marginalized communities to establish large scale agricultural investment ventures. In Canada, One Earth Farms established a massive corporate grain, oilseeds and cattle farm engaging First Nations in the prairie provinces. In South Africa, the Futuregrowth Agri-Fund implemented investment models involving African communities in the commercial fruit sector across the country. I trace the historical origins of the projects, situating them in two concurrent transitions unfolding in their respective national settings: one in the organization of the agrarian economy, the other in the orientation of the nation-state towards a liberal democratic ‘reconciliatory’ dispensation. I detail the specific logics, modalities, and mechanics employed by the ‘agrarian repair’ projects, reflecting on how they can advance understandings of financialized racial capitalism and its operations at the settler colonial agrarian interface. I assess the projects’ capacity to deliver on their purported fixes, showing that agriculture neither proves to be the stable financial provider that investors expect, nor do the projects deliver their anticipated social results. Benefits for the racialized communities engaged are uneven at best, while the projects actively exploit not only settler colonial and racial legacies but also contemporary redress efforts, generating new advantages and valuation iv  channels for investors. The research lends insights into how colonial and racialized histories and reparative movements are mobilized and monetized in contemporary agricultural projects. This allows me to begin outlining a larger schema of reparative capitalism, whereby capitalism incorporates its critiques – here about its colonial and racial past – as new sites of accumulation.   v  Lay Summary This dissertation examines recent agricultural investment projects engaging First Nations in Canada and black African communities in South Africa. Investment managers suggest that these projects will generate both economic returns for investors and social returns for the communities, whose participation in commercial agriculture has been limited under colonialism and, in South Africa, apartheid. However, the projects struggle to deliver on either of these promises. Financial returns are unstable or non-existent. Social returns are uneven and in fact the projects perpetuate certain of the colonial and racial dynamics they claim to help address while exploiting broader redress efforts for investors’ benefit. I reflect on how the projects can help us to understand the contemporary capitalist economic system, wherein capital attempts to incorporate critiques of its colonial and racial past and turn them into new sites of profit-making.    vi  Preface This dissertation is based on independent research completed by the author, Melanie Sommerville. I identified the research sites and designed the research program, performed the vast majority of the research, and analyzed the resulting data.  Some of the material in Chapter 5 is based on raw data provided by Dr. Ruth Hall (Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies, University of the Western Cape, Bellville, South Africa), Dr. Thembela Kepe (Department of Geography and Planning, University of Toronto Scarborough, Canada) and by Hazel Friedman (Senior Producer, Special Investigation, South African Broadcasting Corporation). Drs. Hall and Kepe provided information on two of 66 sites identified in the chapter, and Ms. Friedman on one additional site.  A version of Chapter 3 has been published on-line (print edition forthcoming). Sommerville, Melanie. (2018) Naturalising finance, financialising natives: Indigeneity, race and ‘responsible’ agricultural investment in Canada. Antipode. https://doi.org/10.1111/anti.12395. I conducted the research for and authored this paper independently. Additionally, some of the data from Chapter 3 was also published in an earlier article. Sommerville, Melanie and André Magnan. (2015) ‘Pinstripes on the prairies’: Examining the financialization of farming systems in the Canadian prairie provinces. The Journal of Peasant Studies. 42(1):119-144. Dr. André Magnan conducted the research for the ‘Farmland investment funds’ section of the article, and he originally wrote the ‘Introduction’ and ‘Discussion’ sections of the piece as well. I conducted the research underlying the ‘Exchange traded farming corporations’ section of the article, and originally wrote the ‘Financialization and financial investment in agro-food sectors’ and ‘Factors underlying financial investment in prairie farmland and agriculture’ sections of the piece.  vii  The research was approved by the UBC Behavioral Research Ethics Board: Certificate numbers H10-02953 and H13-02467; Principal Investigator: Dr. Philippe Le Billon.     viii  Table of Contents  Abstract ......................................................................................................................................... iii Lay Summary .................................................................................................................................v Preface ........................................................................................................................................... vi Table of Contents ....................................................................................................................... viii List of Tables ................................................................................................................................ xi List of Figures .............................................................................................................................. xii List of Abbreviations ................................................................................................................. xiii Acknowledgements .................................................................................................................... xix Dedication .................................................................................................................................. xxii Chapter 1: Agrarian Repair ........................................................................................................ 1 1.1 Introduction ................................................................................................................. 1 1.2 Introducing Agrarian Repair ....................................................................................... 2 1.3 Comparing Canada and South Africa ....................................................................... 16 1.4 Positionality, Methodology, Ethics ........................................................................... 27 1.5 Broken Repairs? ........................................................................................................ 32 Chapter 2: Finance, Farming and First Nations in the Canadian Prairies ........................... 36 2.1 Introduction: In Fort Qu’Appelle .............................................................................. 36 2.2 The Structure and Organization of Farming on the Canadian Prairies ..................... 42 2.3 A New Era for Prairie Agriculture? .......................................................................... 52 2.4 The Troubling History of First Nations Farming on the Prairies .............................. 59 2.5 ‘The Land is Everything’ .......................................................................................... 68 ix  2.6 Land Management and Administration on Reserves ................................................ 79 2.7 New Regimes of Resource Extraction ...................................................................... 85 2.8 Conclusion ................................................................................................................ 88 Chapter 3: One Earth Farms ..................................................................................................... 91 3.1 Introduction ............................................................................................................... 91 3.2 The Origins of SRC and OEF ................................................................................... 94 3.3 OEF’s Investment Rationale and Business Model .................................................. 101 3.4 Partnership with First Nations ................................................................................ 113 3.5 OEF’s Operations (2009 – 2013) ............................................................................ 120 3.6 OEF’s Restructuring (2013 – 2017) ........................................................................ 143 3.7 Conclusion .............................................................................................................. 150 Chapter 4: Finance, Fruit Farming and Racialization in South Africa ............................... 154 4.1 Introduction: At Acornhoek Plaza .......................................................................... 154 4.2 State Support and Destabilization in South Africa’s Commercial Fruit Sector ...... 159 4.3 The End of South Africa’s Commercial Farmers? ................................................. 167 4.4 Race, Land and Labour Under Colonialism and Apartheid .................................... 178 4.5 Putting ‘Land First’ ................................................................................................. 187 4.6 Agricultural Transformation and the Private Sector ............................................... 203 4.7 Land Reform and Recolonization ........................................................................... 209 4.8 Conclusion .............................................................................................................. 211 Chapter 5: Futuregrowth Agri-Fund and South African Fruit Exporters ......................... 213 5.1 Introduction ............................................................................................................. 213 5.2 Introducing the Parties ............................................................................................ 217 x  5.3 The Agri-Fund Investment Rationale ..................................................................... 231 5.4 The Agri-Fund Investment Model .......................................................................... 238 5.5 Examining the Corporate Family’s Other Business Arms ...................................... 249 5.6 SAFE and Bono’s Farm Property-Related Activities ............................................. 252 5.7 SAFE and Bono’s Farm Management Related Activities ...................................... 260 5.8 Returning to the Agri-Fund ..................................................................................... 286 5.9 Conclusion .............................................................................................................. 301 Chapter 6: From ‘Agrarian Repair’ to ‘Reparative Capitalism’ ......................................... 305 6.1 Introduction: The New History ............................................................................... 305 6.2 Finance, Land and Agrarian Reform ...................................................................... 310 6.3 From ‘Accumulation by Dispossession’ to ‘Accumulation by Reparations’? ........ 313 6.4 ‘Reconciliation Means Not Having to Say Sorry a Second Time’ ......................... 316 References ...................................................................................................................................329   xi  List of Tables Table 3.1: OEF Crop and Cattle Operations, 2009-2013 ............................................................ 123 Table 3.2: OEF Financial Results, 2009-2013 ............................................................................ 136 Table 3.3: Rental Rates on Participating First Nations, OEF and Other Tenants, Based on Indian Land Registry System (ILRS) Records1 ..................................................................................... 139 Table 4.1: South Africa Land Reform Statistics, Restitution Program, 1995 - March 2014 ...... 193 Table 4.2: South Africa Land Reform Statistics, Redistribution Program, 1994 - March 2014 194  xii  List of Figures Figure 2.1: Stone Ridge Realty Inc. (Former HBC Store), Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan, Canada, July 2014 ......................................................................................................................... 37 Figure 2.2: Farm Consolidation in Saskatchewan and Alberta, Canada 1921 to 2016 ................ 48 Figure 2.3: Saskatchewan, Canada Appears in Knight Frank Farmland Index ............................ 54 Figure 2.4: Canada’s Specific Claims Process ............................................................................. 70 Figure 3.1: SRC’s Agricultural Investment Rationale ................................................................ 107 Figure 3.2: Reserve Landholdings of First Nations Participants in OEF ................................... 117 Figure 3.3: OEF Corporate Structure .......................................................................................... 122 Figure 4.1: ‘Land First, Everything After’, Acornhoek Plaza, Mpumalanga, South Africa, October 2014 ............................................................................................................................... 155 Figure 4.2: Road Block in De Doorns, Western Cape, South Africa during the Farm Workers Strikes, January 2013 .................................................................................................................. 178 Figure 5.1: Main Arms of the Corporate Family at April 2014 .................................................. 223 Figure 5.2: Past and Present Properties Owned and/or Managed by Futuregrowth Agri-Funds, South African Fruit Exporters, and Bono Holdings, as of November 2018 ............................... 230 Figure 5.3: Original Fund Model: Land Reform Focus .............................................................. 242 Figure 5.4: Revised Fund Model: Commercial Agriculture Focus ............................................. 245 Figure 5.5: Agri-Fund Integrated Governance Process .............................................................. 293 Figure 6.1: The ‘New History’ filling up with prairie grain at the Viterra Cascadia Terminal, Vancouver, Canada, 10 November 2018 .................................................................................... 306 Figure 6.2: Rally for Justice for Colten Boushie, Vancouver, Canada, 12 February 2018 ........ 320  xiii  List of Abbreviations AAFC  Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada ACC  Aboriginal Capital Corporation AGI  Ag Growth International AGT  Alliance Grain Traders AMSCO African Management Services Company ANC  African National Congress ATMS  African Training and Management Services BBC  British Broadcasting Corporation BBBEE Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment BEE  Black Economic Empowerment Bono  Bono Holdings International BSE  Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy CAD  Canadian Dollar CASP  Comprehensive Agricultural Support Program CBC  Canadian Broadcasting Corporation CDT  Community Development Trust CEO  Chief Executive Officer CFA  Canadian Federation of Agriculture CFO  Chief Financial Officer CIRNAC Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada CLS  Centre for Law and Society Concourt Constitutional Court xiv  CPA  Communal Property Association CPI  Communal Property Institution CRDP  Comprehensive Rural Development Program CRISA Code for Responsible Investment in South Africa CSR  Corporate Social Responsibility CT  Community Trust CUSTA Canada-United States Trade Agreement DA  Democratic Alliance DAFF  Department of Agriculture and Fisheries  DFJFI  Deciduous Fruit Jobs Fund Initiatives DRDLR Department of Rural Development and Land Reform ECRDA Eastern Cape Rural Development Agency EFF  Economic Freedom Fighters ESG  Environment, Social and Governance FAM  Futuregrowth Asset Management FAWU Congress of South African Trade Union’s Food and Allied Workers Union FCC  Farm Credit Canada FMO  Netherlands Development Finance Company FNACS First Nations Agriculture Council of Saskatchewan FNLMA First Nations Land Management Act FNPOI  First Nations Property Ownership Initiative FSIN  Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations FTSE  Financial Times Stock Exchange 100 Index xv  GATT  General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade GDP  Gross Domestic Product GEPF  Government Employee Pension Fund GEAR  Growth, Employment and Redistribution GIS  Geographic Information Services GMC  General Minerals Canada HBC  Hudson’s Bay Company IDC  Industrial Development Corporation ILRS  Indian Land Registry System INAC  Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada ISC  Indigenous Services Canada ISCC  Indian Specific Claims Commission JSE  Johannesburg Stock Exchange KET  Kangela Empowerment Trust LAMOSA Land Access Movement of South Africa LEP  Lease Equity Program LRAD  Land Redistribution and Development MEC  Member of the Executive Council NACCA National Aboriginal Capital Corporation Association NAFTA North American Free Trade Agreement NAV  Net Asset Value NCGF  Northern Cape Grape Farms NDA  National Department of Agriculture xvi  NFMW  National Fund for Municipal Workers NFU  National Farmers Union NFS  Nexus Forensic Service NGO  Non-Governmental Organization OAG  Office of the Auditor General OEF  One Earth Farms OECD  Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development OEOG  One Earth Oil and Gas OER  One Earth Resources OMAAF Old Mutual African Agriculture Fund OMAI  Old Mutual Alternative Investments OMF  Old Mutual Foundation OMIGSA Old Mutual Insurance Group South Africa OMLACSA Old Mutual Life Assurance Corporation South Africa OMC  Old Mutual Corporate OTC  Office of the Treaty Commissioner OVG  Office of the Valuer General PASSOP People Against Suffering Oppression and Poverty PHT  Peace Hills Trust  PIC  Public Investment Corporation PLAS  Proactive Land Acquisition Strategy PLAAS Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies Recap  Recapitalization and Development Program xvii  RLEMP Reserve Land and Environmental Management Program SABC  South African Broadcasting Corporation SAFE  South African Fruit Exporters SAM  Sprott Asset Management SARB  South African Reserve Bank SCAAF Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food SCT  Specific Claims Tribunal SFSC  Saskatchewan Financial Securities Commission SFV  SAFE Farm Ventures SIAP  Saskatchewan Indian Agriculture Program SICAV Société d'Investissement à Capital Variable SIU  Special Investigations Unit SLAG  Settlement/Land Acquisition Grant SPP  Surplus Peoples Project SRC  Sprott Resource Corp. TLE  Treaty Land Entitlement TSX  Toronto Stock Exchange UAG  Union Agriculture Group UFFAAI  UFF African Agri-Investments UFFT  United Farmers Fund Trust UNFAO United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization UNPRI United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment WTO  World Trade Organization xviii  Zeder  Zeder Financial Services ZAR  South African Rand xix  Acknowledgements I want to express my gratitude to my supervisory committee, who stuck by me despite various interruptions and delays in completing this dissertation. Jim Glassman was always ready for wide-ranging, thought-provoking discussions and small bursts of encouragement, sometimes on short notice. Philippe Le Billon provided strong strategic advice about navigating academia and greatly appreciated financial support. Merje Kuus was a voice of reason and grace. Saturnino (Jun) Borras’ contributions during the first stretch of my doctoral program were similarly generous and I very much hope he will be pleased with the end result. My examining committee members Brett Christophers, Hannah Wittman, and Juanita Sundberg each provided valuable comments and chair Jeffrey Byrne ensured that the defence process unfolded smoothly.  At several points faculty at other universities also served as invaluable advisors-at-large. I was extremely glad to have André Magnan at the University of Regina as a fellow interlocutor in the tangled webs of finance and farming on the Canadian prairies. In South Africa, Ruth Hall and Ben Cousins at the University of the Western Cape gave freely of their time and perspectives and helped so much in my efforts to understand what was for me a new context. Most recently, Emily Gilbert, my supervisor for a new Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the University of Toronto, has been a stalwart supporter who is nearly single-handedly responsible for my genuine excitement about the next stage of my academic life.  I want to thank all those who gave so generously of their time in interviews over the course of my sprawling research. Still others provided crucial solidarity. Hazel Friedman, my sister across the pond, introduced herself through my inbox at just the right moment. Ruth, Hazel, Nerhene Davis, Thembela Kepe, and Tabelo Timse all shared valuable insights and research contacts. Edward Lahiff put me on to South Africa. Freddie Bosman, Nicky Chiloane, xx  Ntau Letebele, Speaker Mahlake and Ernest Vos all helped immeasurably with my field research once I arrived. On the technical side, Colin Day made what would have been an immensely painful task of South African deeds office searches pleasurable. Colleen Kimmett helped download Canadian records and keep them suitably organized. Eric Leinberger was fantastic for his cartographic supersleuthing. Henk Smith provided crucial legal advice. Celina O’Connor slayed a dragon by taming my voluminous reference list. My work would not have been possible without the financial support of the University of British Columbia, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the International Development Research Centre of Canada, and the Land Deal Politics Initiative. This dissertation would never have been completed were it not for the kindnesses of several dear friends. Laura Clegg flew and ferried hither and tither to scrape me up and inject her tremendous compassion into nearly every area of my life and work, sometimes with her wonderful partner, Hugh Lindsay, in tow. Jessica White proved to be a fierce and faithful confidant and to offer me the safest harbours during especially stormy moments, and Luke and Noah White-Pine provided energetic respite. Alyssa Stryker was there, in person and in spirit, at several points when it really mattered. Corin de Freitas gets it in ways that few others could. Tyler McCreary and Levi Van Sant each expressed indefatigable confidence in my work and proved able to summarize it succinctly long before I could. For an extended academic cohort, one could not beat Craig Hatcher, Tom Howard, Craig Jones, Jessi Lehman, Elanna Nolan, Sage Ponder, Emily Rosenman, and Cristina Temenos. Still other stellar folks including Michael Anderchek, Mitch Anderson, Salman Azam, Erin Bentley, Heather Burch, Brian Egan, Sarah Fillipou, Heidi Fink, Mahalia Freed, Kerria Gray, David Gwyr, Rebecca Hall, Hana Hermanek, xxi  Kate Hughes, Tracy James, Krista Maitland, and Sharif Missiha always had my back. Finally, my mother and father Florence and Norman Sommerville, my sister Jessica Sommerville, brother outlaw Jeff Klein, and niece Rosie Laurette all proved to be a steady fount of familial encouragement who helped me keep on keeping on.  xxii  Dedication  For my maternal forebears: My grandparents: Pauline Strelioff (née Krukoff) (1914-1961) Nicholas John Strelioff (1908-1963) My aunts and uncles:  Lawrence Strelioff (1933-1935) John Harry Strelioff (1935-1970) Verna Elizabeth Strelioff (1937-1985) Alice Jean Eagle (née Strelioff) (1947-) And my mother: Florence Elsie Sommerville (née Strelioff) (1940-2017) 1 Chapter 1: Agrarian Repair  1.1 Introduction Agriculture is often considered an originary sector, central to the constitution of economic systems, spaces, and subjectivities.1 Farming is linked to the emergence of money, loans, and interest, and – at least if one is sympathetic to long running scholarly debates about the ‘agrarian question’ – to both the operation of feudalism and the origins of capitalism, at the national and global level. Agriculture plays a key role in our notions of civilization, in patterns of settlement, and in the emergence of private property relations and the state system. As a practice, we associate farming with the cultivation of personal and collective responsibility, with aspirations of individual and community self-sufficiency, and with articulations of regional and national identity and citizenship. Viewed by some as a last bastion of tradition, it is also a modern business opportunity. Such perspectives are not much dissuaded by agriculture’s frequent role in driving dispossessions and social conflicts, and what some might suggest is its rather more chequered performance in providing for human sustenance. In his humorous reflection on the appeal of ‘one dot’ theories of history, Menand (2015) accords farming a grim role in the evolution of our species: “Humans invented agriculture: bad news, end of story.” But this is not the way many of us think about agriculture. As the economic sector that provides for one of our most basic bodily necessities, our relationship with agriculture seems metabolically ineluctable. While we recognize that our era of climate change, environmental degradation, and expanding                                                1 In this first paragraph, my objective is simply to set out some of the larger parameters framing my research. In contrast to the remainder of this dissertation, I have hence not provided references for each point. Readers interested in exploring these broad matters could start with the following references: Friedman and McMichael (1989); Wood (1998); Perelman (2000); Akram-Lodhi and Kay (2010a, b); and Carlisle (2014).   2 urban development puts agriculture increasingly under threat, we cling to the notion that it is inexhaustible, renewable, even regenerative.  1.2 Introducing Agrarian Repair This dissertation explores certain contemporary agricultural projects that integrate many of these ideas and impulses into large-scale investment schemes. I term these ‘agrarian repair’ projects. Proponents of these projects present them as twinning or binding together two distinct ‘fixes’, each socially appealing at the particular historical conjuncture of the early new millennium. First, they seek to repair processes of capital accumulation and value preservation, always uncertain but newly destabilized after the 2007/8 financial crisis, by grounding these processes in agriculture as an emerging global asset class. Second, they attempt to repair histories of racial injustice, often codified as resulting from a group’s historical ‘exclusion’ from agriculture, and consequently larger national economies. ‘Agrarian repair’ projects are presented as coupling renewed profit-making and wealth preserving functions for investors to the fuller and fairer inclusion of these racialized groups in farming. The implication is that they will contribute to the economic ‘empowerment’ and effective ‘demarginalization’ of the racialized groups in question, even as they pad investors’ portfolios and pocketbooks. While certain precursors to and aspects of ‘agrarian repair’ projects may surface in a wide variety of settings, I situate these projects in a narrower range of locations. Specifically, I locate them in nation-states whose rural areas are characterized by a history of settler colonialism – and which, to varying degrees, still struggle with the legacies of this history. Buttressed by narratives of white supremacy, the forms of land control, state supports for commercial farming, and indeed investment in agriculture that developed in these particular settings actively racialized and  3 marginalized the peoples that inhabited them prior to colonization, contributing to historical and contemporary patterns of racialized uneven economic development. White settler farmers prospered and expanded, even as a variety of pressures gradually eroded their agrarian toehold. Colonial subjects, in turn, suffered, experiencing widespread dispossession, discrimination, oppression and exploitation. Many struggled to subsist off of small-scale farming, low-waged employment, and/or state supports that were often deliberately maintained at levels barely adequate to keeping them alive.  Over the last 25 years, different interests within these nation-states have been trying to come to terms with and move beyond this history, often in ambiguous, contradictory, and shifting ways. One result is the emergence of land reform and land claims processes intended to provide a broad if partial redress to the historical injustices of colonization and racialization. These processes often result in marginalized populations coming into possession of agricultural lands. In the meantime, white commercial agriculture is rapidly consolidating and becoming ever more globally integrated, with attendant changes in structure and farming practices. ‘Agrarian repair’ projects mobilize these shifting arrangements of land ownership and control, connecting them with eager tranches of investment capital seeking both revitalized accumulation and a rearguard defense of wealth in the post-financial crisis period.  ‘Agrarian repair’ projects thus emerge at the intersection of two concurrent transitions unfolding in historically settler colonial settings: one in the organization of the agrarian economy, the other in the orientation of the nation-state towards particular forms of racial redress. Such redress is frequently associated with a larger shift towards a ‘reconciliatory’ dispensation, entangling with larger formations of ‘multicultural’ and ‘multiracial’ (or even ‘nonracial’) liberal democracy. Each freighted with uncertainties, not least with respect to their  4 future prospects, these larger transitions underpin the particular fixes that ‘agrarian repair’ projects purport to mobilize and deliver. Understanding the ways that the different impulses and tensions within these larger historical processes give rise to reparative projects in the agrarian sphere is the first aim of my dissertation. Drawing upon an eclectic academic literature to meet this goal allows me to also consider what the projects might tell us about the operation of financialized, racial capitalism at the settler colonial, agrarian interface. In the next two sections, I provide a brief survey of some of this literature in order to situate my work.    1.2.1 Repairing Capital’s Accumulation and Valuation Crises  ‘Agrarian repair’ projects are linked to a keen enthusiasm for agriculture-related investments among diverse individual and institutional investors (GRAIN 2008; Clapp 2012; Cotula 2012; Fairbairn 2014). Such enthusiasm resulted from three closely-spaced developments in global capital markets. Some first movers among these financiers were motivated by the global commodities boom and resulting bull run on natural resources that developed in the early 2000s. But investor interest gathered considerable steam with the onset of the 2007/8 financial crisis and the resulting instability in many asset classes. The temporal coincidence of the financial crisis with a sudden spike in food prices was the third development boosting agriculture’s financial fan base. Amidst the ongoing search for the next financial ‘blockbuster’ or ‘new, new thing’ (Engelen et al. 2011:51), agriculture seemed like a sure-fire bet. Arguing that the commodity boom represented a relatively stable or ‘secular’ ‘super-cycle’, investment managers developed a straight-forward, Malthusian-inspired narrative that proved compelling for investors, newly skittish about more obscure accumulation strategies. Food prices would increase steadily given the growing global population, rising demand in emerging economies, and an overall decline in  5 arable land due to urbanization and environmental pressures (McMichael 2014; Sommerville 2018a). Investments in farmland and agricultural commodities would offer investors an effective means of risk-management, serving as both a hedge against inflation and a valuable form of portfolio diversification, given agriculture’s low correlation to equity markets (Cotula 2012).  Critical scholars concerned to understand finance’s apparent ‘agricultural turn’ have linked it to the financialization of the global economy, and agro-food systems as embedded therein. In common with many of these scholars, I understand financialization as comprising a structural shift in the character of contemporary capitalism. It reflects both the growing power and prevalence of financial actors and logics in the overall economy (Epstein 2005), as well as the increasing reliance on financial channels of accumulation (rather than productive activities) among non-financial interests (Krippner 2005). Scholars influenced by regulation theory locate the onset of financialization in the declining rate of profit under Keynesian economic policies from the late 1960s, and a resulting over-accumulation crisis (Boyer 2000). This drove various measures to boost the fortunes of capital while disciplining labor. Capital markets were deregulated, allowing finance to become more globalized (Helleiner 1994; Engelen et al. 2011). Trade unions and the welfare state came under attack and progressive taxation regimes were eroded (Levitt 2008). Certain scholars following the autonomous Marxist tradition, in turn, suggest that financialization rather reflects the accumulation strategy associated with the rise of new forms of value production in the contemporary era (Marazzi 2010). As Langley (2011:336) summarizes, these forms are less about “raw materials, machines and workers” and more about the “spheres of circulation, exchange and reproduction”. Such processes unfurl alongside a shift in the orientation of modern corporations towards maximizing ‘shareholder value’ over reinvestments that would benefit workers and other stakeholders (Froud et al. 2000).  6 Financialization, then, is a fundamentally (re)distributive process (van der Zwan 2014). Although sustained in part through the continuing consumption of segments of the working class, this consumption is fuelled principally by debt relations (Langley 2008). Meanwhile, collective forms of savings – notably pensions, which by the mid-1990s controlled huge amounts of financial capital – have themselves been transmuted into “carriers of financialization” (Engelen 2003:1360). Pension restructuring involving shifts from public to private forms of assurance and from so-called ‘defined benefit’ to ‘defined contribution’ plans stand to further erode and undermine social security (Soederberg 2010).  As Fairbairn (2014) has noted, finance’s deepening fascination with agriculture is interesting because the latter seems to be a fundamentally productive sector. The phenomenon thus provides potential insights into certain theories of financialization, including that advanced by Arrighi (whom Fairbairn follows). Arrighi (2010[1994]) suggests that financialization is a cyclical phenomenon, interspersed with periods where accumulation proceeds primarily through productive activities. Agro-food system financialization can similarly inform debates around whether finance now functions principally as a parasitic superstructure, siphoning off value from productive reinvestment. Christophers (2015a:194-6) questions whether such relationship can realistically be sustained – that is, whether there is an “empiric limit” to the depth and scope of financialization before economic growth falters. Writing from the autonomous perspective, Marazzi (2010) asks whether we can anymore find a firm distinction between the productive and the financial. Such was not the view promulgated by agricultural asset managers, who regularly drew on narratives – common in policy circles and popular discourse at the time – distinguishing the financial sector from the so-called ‘real economy’ and arguing the need to “rebalance the economy in favour of the latter” (S. Hall 2013:285). In an era of ‘story driven capitalisms’  7 (Engelen et al. 2011), this was an especially alluring one, backed up by the accounts of shifting agricultural ‘fundamentals’ described above. Nonetheless, subsequent research has revealed that agricultural investments in fact tangle productive and financial returns in complex ways: gleaning dividends, interest, rent, land appreciation, and other forms of capital gains which nonetheless remain linked to productive activity and forms of value generation. Indeed, the ‘agrarian repair’ projects I examine later in this dissertation suggest that the latter can ultimately compromise the former.  While critical scholars have traced the entry of new investors into every ‘node’ of the agro-food system (see Isakson 2014 for a recent overview), investments in farmland and/or primary agriculture have piqued particular concern and curiosity. Research has identified a variety of investment vehicles and approaches: some focusing on farmland ownership, others on (typically large-scale) farming, and still others blending the two (Fairbairn 2014; Sommerville and Magnan 2015). In part, scholarly interest in this topic stems from overlaps between financialization and the phenomenon commonly referred to as the ‘global land grab’, finance having been identified as one of key drivers of the land rush from some of the earliest reports on the topic (e.g. GRAIN 2008; Buxton et al. 2012).2 Early critics postulated that finance-driven acquisitions and activities would dispossess local producers, disrupt rural communities, degrade agricultural ecosystems, and provoke turbulence in regional food markets (Borras et al. 2011). But more recently, certain theorists have critiqued such accounts as overly deterministic. For example, Ouma (2014:163-4), drawing on the work of Hart (2004), has suggested that these                                                2 Land grabbing is a complex phenomenon, related to a number of drivers and mechanisms, only some of which concern agriculture (see Zoomers 2010) and which in any case involve different forms of mediation by finance among diverse other actors. As Peluso and Lund (2011:669) put it, “there is no one grand land grab, but a series of changing contexts, emergent processes and forces, and contestations that are producing new conditions and facilitating shifts in both de jure and de facto land control”.   8 theorizations perpetuate an “impact” model that frames financialization as a set of processes imposed “from above.” He argues that scholars need to attend to the “more technical, everyday dimensions” of financialization, including by recognizing the heterogeneous agency of farmers and other agricultural actors (see also Williams 2014). My own work helps to advance such a goal through detailed examinations of specific investment vehicles, their logics and pragmatic operations, and the channels of profit-making and wealth preservation that they involve. But I also take seriously both the global interconnectedness of contemporary agro-food systems and the local experiences that mediate finance’s interventions: for example, the specific histories that financialization builds on, the local struggles with which it articulates, and the diverse resistances it encounters.  Elsewhere, I have described this as “thickening the local histories” of agro-food system financialization (Sommerville 2018b). This work is important because early accounts of both financialization and finance-driven ‘land grabbing’ have tended to construe these as new phenomena. In fact, finance and farming have long been interpenetrated. Access to financial markets and capital played a key role in the agrarian transitions of settler colonies among other locations globally, facilitating the emergence of commercial agriculture and alternately speeding and slowing subsequent restructuring patterns therein. Indeed, finance has had a deepening centrality to farm survival, expansion, and succession in recent decades. One might even go so far as to argue that, when ‘finance’ was making its recent pronouncements about the opportunities in ‘agriculture’ (framed here as tidily distinct sectors), it may rather have been looking mainly at the activities of another version of itself. In part, this is due to certain neoliberal reforms to agriculture which, while variable in their extent and particularities across national settings, are broadly associated with the integration of agriculture into global trade  9 agreements, most notably the World Trade Organization after 1995. The result was an erosion of the state supports for farming that had contributed to the overall strength of settler economies. Some of these supports stretched back to the early days of settlement, others were consolidated in the post-war years amidst a drive to protect national agricultures as sensitive economic sectors. In concert with liberalization, low interest rates, stable to increasing land values, and rising input costs have fuelled the expansion of farm debt. In earlier publications, I have argued that these shifts played an important role in preparing the ground for the latest wave of financial incursions into agriculture (Sommerville and Magnan 2015; Sommerville 2018b). Here I continue to develop that line of argumentation. All investment projects require a business case that proves convincing to prospective financiers. In ‘agrarian repair’ projects, this is accomplished by the promise that investing in farmland and/or large-scale agriculture will both restart capital accumulation and protect accumulated wealth amidst financial market turmoil. In liberal democratic societies (whether well-established or more recently emergent), investment projects also depend on, or in any case benefit from, claims as to their larger social benefits. These claims help to generate ‘social license’ for the investments (see Knoepfel and Imbert 2011), which can assist with raising capital from investors, gaining necessary approvals from governments and other regulators, and ensuring participation from relevant stakeholder groups.3 Critical scholars have recognized the importance of such claims in enabling agricultural investment projects, which proponents often frame as ‘win-win’ formulations that will benefit both capital and local communities, for example by financing agriculture as an under-resourced sector, contributing to community                                                3 Indeed, this was perhaps particularly the case after the financial crisis, when both the legitimacy of financial institutions and of the neoliberal reforms working to consolidate their power were in question.  10 ‘development’, and expanding infrastructure and markets (Cotula et al. 2009; de Schutter 2011). Indeed, strong adherents often tack on a third ‘win’, this one for increasingly cash-strapped national governments, arguing that by boosting agricultural productivity, sales, and exports, agricultural investment schemes will compensate for and/or allow a further pull-back in public funding from the farm sector, assisting with cost-savings in the global North and South alike. Proponents of ‘agrarian repair’ projects similarly mobilize social license claims, but these focus on a particular area: namely, providing redress to those who, as a consequence of colonial and racialized dispossession and oppression, experience a relative exclusion from agriculture, or in any case, an incorporation into it under ‘adverse’ terms (see Du Toit 2004). Such projects replicate a dynamic that Rosenman (2017:142) suggests is central to emergent forms of social finance, which claim that “the unequal and often unjust results of capitalism” can be resolved “with the application, albeit re-tooled, of more capitalism.” In ‘agrarian repair’ projects, there is a still deeper history that ‘socially responsible’ investment managers claim they can help to address: that corresponding with marginalized populations’ experiences of settler colonialism, the racialized regimes that may follow on it, and the contemporary legacies of these phenomena. Agrarian repair projects suggest that capital, here in its financial form, can help to ‘save’ the subjects of such historical injustices (see Pasternak 2015; Sommerville 2018a). This is the second fix to which promises of renewed financial profits and valuation are coupled in ‘agrarian repair’ projects: the repair of capital’s colonial and racist history.  1.2.2 Repairing Capitalism’s Colonial and Racist History Scholars trying to understand the colonial and racialized inscriptions of ‘agrarian repair’ projects quickly find themselves faced with a paradox, tethered between theoretical gaps. Although  11 overview pieces have recognized key parallels between the historical dynamics of colonialism and the contemporary land rush (Borras et al. 2011; Anseeuw et al. 2012), few have explicitly examined these congruences. Racialization too remains something of a lacuna in agro-food scholarship (Slocum 2010), where class continues to dominate formulations of the ‘agrarian question.’ In the chapters that follow, I bridge these gaps by integrating critical agrarian studies perspectives with recent scholarship on settler colonialism and racial capitalism. With respect to the former, I find particularly helpful Coulthard’s (2014:14) exposition of dispossession as both a “co-foundational” and continuing feature of capitalism under settler colonial formations.4 Coulthard (ibid.:9) views his work as correcting the “rigidly temporal” framing of Marx’s ‘primitive accumulation’ thesis. Such thesis construes dispossession as a mere ‘stage setter’ or ‘transitional’ phenomenon in the emergence of the capitalism, which functions to separate populations from the means of production and compel the formation of a working class (proletarianization). Drawing on Wolfe (2006), Coulthard (2014:11, emphasis in original) rather argues that racialized dispossession under settler colonialism is a structural phenomenon, which plays an ongoing role in shaping the historical subjectivities of the colonized, perpetrating injustices “on its own terms and in its own right”. Regarding racial capitalism, I follow Robinson (1983[2010]), whose work similarly sought to trouble certain oversights in Marx’s European-centric account.5 For Robinson (ibid.:2), the fact that capitalism pursues “essentially racial                                                4 Coulthard’s (2014) conceptualization was developed with particular reference to Canada, one of my research sites. As he notes, First Nations labour was largely “superfluous” to the emergence and expansion of capitalism in Canada (Coulthard 2014:12). In this dissertation, I maintain that his work is also valuable for understanding settings such as South Africa, my other research site, where the colonized and racialized population’s labour was considerably more important to capitalist trajectories, but where dispossession similarly conveys its own particular injustices. See Section 1.3.1.   5 Robinson (2010[1983)] apparently forged his concept of ‘racial capitalism’ during a sabbatical year in England, where he evidently encountered intellectuals from South Africa, my other research site, who used the phrase to refer to that country’s economy under apartheid. As Kelley (2017) summarizes, Robinson “developed [the concept] from  12 directions” reflects its origins in a European feudal society already saturated by racialism and colonial practices. As Kelley (2017) has subsequently put it, the “tendency of European civilization through capitalism was thus not to homogenize but to differentiate—to exaggerate regional, subcultural, and dialectical differences into ‘racial’ ones.” Since then, racial capitalism has expanded by “seizing upon [these] colonial divisions, identifying particular regions for production and others for neglect, certain populations for exploitation and still others for disposal” (Lowe 2015:150). If ‘agrarian repair’ projects can usefully encourage agrarian scholars to deepen their conceptualization of colonialism and race, they can also extend work in settler colonial- and critical race and ethnic studies. In these fields, agriculture is commonly neglected as an important domain in the cultivation of settler colonialism and attendant racial formations. Yet as Wolfe (2006, 2016) points out, agriculture is often central to settler colonialism, conveying both a symbolic sense of permanence and the material resources necessary for an expanding settler state. Additionally, others consider that farming is central to either the emergence of capitalism in certain settler societies (Kulikoff 1992), or the transition from a colonial- to settler form of capitalism in other nation-states (McMichael 1980). Agriculture may even be the principal actor behind a feature that some consider characteristic of settler colonialism: an insatiable demand for land (T. King 2012; Coulthard 2014). And even as race functions as an “organizing grammar” (Stoler 1994:27), helping to structure and systematize efforts to secure access to these lands,  agriculture may in turn help to codify race. One example is the ‘civilizational paradigm’ that motivated certain colonial agricultural training programs. Another is the deliberate exclusion                                                a description of a specific system to a way of understanding the general history of modern capitalism.” See Hudson (2018) for an overview of the concept’s history in South Africa.   13 from farming of certain racialized populations on the basis of their supposed failure to ‘adapt’ to agriculture (Bundy 1972; Carter 1990). Contemporary land claims and land reform programs arise on the backs of this history – often after tremendous and sustained protest by colonized peoples – and are broadly perceived as working towards decolonial objectives. To be sure, there are plenty of reasons to pursue land claims and land reform beyond agriculture or even other economic rationales. Land is an important source of identity, dignity, spiritual, and cultural practices (Coulthard 2014; Li 2014; L. Simpson 2014) – in important ways, of ‘social visibility’ (Atuahene 2014). The loss of these cuts deeply for colonized and racialized peoples. Land is an anchor point for expressions of autonomy, community, nationalism and sovereignty that may help these populations to recover some of what was lost. Nonetheless, insofar as land claims and land reform may presume to offer an economic remit, in rural areas agriculture is often central to this function. Yet populations that have fought long and hard to have land returned to them may find it difficult to mobilize their new holdings towards agriculture, in particular its commercial variant. They may be disadvantaged relative to settler agriculturalists by certain hangovers from (or responses to) their experiences of colonial and racial oppression (e.g. deskilling, or difficulty accessing credit due to the forms of collective and inalienable land tenure that often condition land claims and reform programs, on which see Li 2010). They are also differentially affected by the aforementioned liberal reforms to state-sponsored agriculture and attendant structural changes in commercial farming. In fact, the very form of most contemporary land claims and land reform programs have themselves been conditioned by neoliberalism, since most subscribe to ‘market led agrarian reform’ paradigms and so-called ‘willing buyer, willing seller’ approaches (see Borras 2007; Wolford 2007). Although it often goes unacknowledged, such format provides a distinct  14 advantage to the (mostly white) populations that are exiting agriculture, rather than merely helping those that are being ‘bought in’. Arriving at this juncture, ‘agrarian repair’ projects promise to facilitate the proper participation in agriculture by these racialized and disadvantaged populations. This kind of ‘inclusion talk’ will be familiar to scholars writing towards the emerging literature on racial liberalism, who have argued that it is diagnostic of the ‘multicultural’ or even ‘nonracial’ formations of liberal democracy that pertain in many hitherto and existing settler colonies today. By turning expressions of ‘socially responsible investment’ and ‘corporate social responsibility’ towards such notions, ‘agrarian repair’ projects share certain features with what Rickford (2016) has called ‘corporate liberalism’ and Fraser (N. Fraser 2017) – choosing a perhaps more dubious modifier – has termed ‘progressive neoliberalism’. As Fraser sees it, such formation involves an alliance between finance (among other “high end and ‘symbolic’ sectors”) and race-related new social movements, wherein the latter lend their “charisma” to the former, providing cover for the political abandonment of working class interests and the upward transfer of wealth. Fraser’s idea is compelling, but it needs to be combined with a deeper recognition that liberalism itself is beset with an explicitly racist history (see, for instance, Losurdo 2011; Lowe 2015). In fact, even contemporary formulations of liberal ‘inclusivity’ specify subtle racial hierarchies (Melamed 2006; 2015). Capitalism, in turn, mobilizes these hierarchies, resulting in what Rickford (2016) calls ‘polite white supremacy’. In turn, this leaves racialized folks differentially exposed to the erosion and absences of social protections that neoliberalism entails. ‘Agrarian repair’ projects go further than many of these liberal formulations by engaging a more explicit, if also selective, colonial ‘redress’ component. They are appealing to governments bound to racial reconciliation but bent on a neoliberal dispensation, promising that  15 financial markets will deliver what the state does not. The ventures rely on an underlying narrative that (even without appropriate state supports) agriculture can serve as an economic entry point. Such projects embark upon a neoliberal revivification of longstanding agrarian ideals of self-sufficiency, doubling expressions of financial and corporate responsibility to an older story about agriculture’s capacity to enculturate responsible economic behavior. Positioning financial capital in the role of racial reconciler, ‘agrarian repair’ projects serve an important symbolic function: redeeming capital’s public image. Effectively, these ventures promise that by facilitating agricultural ‘inclusion’, they will help to cleanse capitalism of its racist history, by separating it from its colonial roots (see Pasternak 2015; Sommerville 2018b). The governments and communities that sign on to ‘agrarian repair’ projects are banking on the promise that finance capital can facilitate a ‘new history’, untroubled by the colonial and racial baggage of the old.  But ‘agrarian repair’ projects’ promises to wed investor returns to racial and colonial redress belie a substantially more complicated relationship between finance and race in recent years. Scholars are increasingly exposing the deeply racialized landscapes that underlie and are undergirded by the rise of finance, suggesting that race acts alongside class as a “central marker” of financial subjectivity (S. Hall 2012:407). Researchers in urban settings have detailed the racial dimensions of both the sub-prime mortgage scandal and housing foreclosures (e.g. Wyly et al 2009; Rugh and Massey 2010; Chakravartty and da Silva 2012). Similar connections have been drawn between finance and ongoing processes of settler colonialism. Goldstein (2014:42), for example, describes a marked “correlation between profits derived from financial transactions and profit from territorial seizure”, which like Coulthard (2014, discussed above) he links to the persistence of ‘primitive accumulation’ in contemporary times. Goldstein (2014:47) goes on to  16 argue that such feature takes on a particular charge in the wake of the 2007/8 financial crisis, when reinvigorated anxieties about national insolvency, the shortcomings of the “neoliberal fantasy of market-based salvation”, and “the persistent failures of the settler colonial project” may drive new appeals to “restor[e] a sense of trust” with Indigenous and other racialized peoples through means that nonetheless “foreclose the lineages of historical injustice”. One is left with the impression that the redistributive project facilitated by financialization (van der Zwan 2014) may be deeply at odds with that which many deem necessary to decolonization processes, not least, in the case of ‘agrarian repair’ projects, the return and use of lands long alienated from colonized peoples.   1.3 Comparing Canada and South Africa While my first aim in this dissertation is to situate the concept of ‘agrarian repair’ projects and the fixes they purport to offer historically, my second is to examine the emergence and operation of these projects in particular settings. I do so through a comparative study of two projects, one sited in the prairie provinces of Canada, and one spanning several provinces of South Africa. The Canadian venture saw a publicly traded investment firm (Sprott Resource Corp.) establish a subsidiary (One Earth Farms) which would partner with First Nations to create a very large-scale corporate grain, oilseeds and cattle farm on land controlled by the Indigenous communities. The South African project saw an affiliate of an international banking group (Old Mutual Investment Group) establish an agricultural investment fund (the Futuregrowth Agri-Fund) which planned to follow a model pioneered by two related companies partnering with African communities to produce fruit on their landholdings. In addition to my work on these two projects, my research had additional comparative elements. In order to understand the challenges faced by First  17 Nations and African communities engaged in commercial farming, I first needed to comprehend the settler ‘norms’ in the ventures’ respective agricultural subsectors. I also needed to understand the institutional ‘exceptions’ that characterize First Nations and African participation in these sectors (for example, with respect to land title). In each country, the firms also formed ‘partnerships’ with multiple communities, meaning that I had to stay alert to internal differences created by factors such as provincial boundaries and the configurations of distinct First Nations and African ‘partners.’ In the document that follows, I have tried to capture some of the resulting diversity without overwhelming my reader (certainly at points I was overwhelmed trying to keep all of the variants straight).  I selected One Earth Farms as my Canadian entry point based on having learned of the project during my work in agricultural policy prior to beginning my PhD.6 While instances of finance-driven ‘land grabbing’ had by that point gained considerable attention in the media and among civil society groups, the phenomenon was presumed to mainly involve the application of capital from the global North to lands in the global South. I obtained funding from the Land Deal Politics Initiative (LDPI) to undertake a pilot study and then more substantive research on One Earth Farms as an instance where the global North was both the source and the site of agricultural investment. I identified my South African study, in turn, following a chance meeting at the First International Conference on Land Grabbing (Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, 6-8 April 2011), which the LDPI helped to facilitate. As I describe in Chapter 5, a fellow conference participant who attended a presentation on my early Canadian                                                6 From April 2006 until December 2010 I worked as an Issues Management Analyst for the British Columbia Farm Industry Review Board, an administrative tribunal that is an arms-length affiliate of the provincial Ministry of Agriculture and Lands. The last four months of my employment overlapped with the first four of my PhD program. It should be clear that the research I undertook and the findings documented here, reflect my independent academic work and not the activities or views of the Board, Ministry, or provincial government in question.  18 research findings noted similar trends surfacing in his work in South Africa. Intrigued by his comments, I researched investment ventures using internet search engines and the online repository maintained by the non-governmental organization GRAIN (www.farmlandgrab.org) before selecting the Futuregrowth Agri-Fund as a suitable second study.   My interest in paired inquiry was thus influenced by the LDPI’s emphasis on generating “in-depth research and systematiz[ing] cross-national and cross-regional comparative studies” (n.d. a). By providing a forum for sharing data, information, and knowledge, the Initiative hoped to help researchers connect local studies to broader changes in agrarian structure, new or repeating forms of agrarian capitalism, agrarian political struggles, and processes of rural displacement, dispossession, and social differentiation (LDPI n.d. b). This would help to facilitate “deeper, meaningful and productive debates around the causes and implications” of emerging shifts in land control (ibid.). Of course, comparison has something of a freighted history in geography and related social science disciplines, perhaps especially when it relates to matters concerning race and ethnicity and their entanglement in processes of colonialism and settler colonialism. Scholars have raised three broad sets of concerns. The first is that comparative analysis is itself rooted in colonial practices of measuring, ranking, and administering alterity or difference, and as such in maintaining notions of European and white supremacy (for a good overview, see Robinson 2011). The second is that comparativism can easily bend towards extremes, over focusing on either “parochialism as well as its ideological twin, exceptionalism” (Faragher 2014:185) or, alternatively, universalist readings that obscure more than they reveal. The third concern regards a tendency towards conceptualizing cases in overly ‘discrete’ terms, delimited most commonly by the boundaries of the nation-state (Stoler 2001; Goldberg 2009). Despite these cautions, comparative approaches continue to excite and  19 attract attention from critical scholars. Veracini (2013) notes that they are gaining renewed focus in settler colonial studies, with Cornellier and Griffiths (2016:305, drawing on Morgensen 2011) suggesting that they can help to identify “settler colonialism as not merely a global phenomenon”, but as actively “constitutive of the global”. Medak-Saltzman and Tiongson Jr (2015:1-2) note that a turn to the comparative has similarly become “a prominent and defining feature” in critical studies of race and ethnicity – a field that is itself grappling with integrating “Native theorizing, Indigeneity and settler colonial paradigms” (see also Medak-Saltzman 2015). While “what it means to engage in comparative scholarship” often remains unexplored in this sub-field, the latter authors suggest that the approach can help to “recko[n] head on with the polyvalences of race and the intricate interlacings of racial formations across time and space” (ibid.:6).  Although my research was begun before these recent assessments, my comparative approach parallels these scholars’ efforts to harness the analytical and political potential of comparison while avoiding its pitfalls. To do this, I employ a technique that Hart (2002, 2016) calls ‘relational comparison’. This approach attempts to bring the “key forces” at play in one’s research locations “into the same frame of analysis”, positing one’s research sites as “connected yet distinctively different nodes in globally interconnected historical geographies” (Hart 2016:373). “Rejecting any notion of pre-given cases as variants of a presumed universal/general process”, Hart suggests that relational comparison rather focuses on “spatio-historical specificities as well as interconnections and mutually constitutive processes” (ibid.). One’s research sites then play an active role in “the production of global processes in [their] specific spatio-historical conjunctures”, rather than being passive recipients of such processes. For Hart, a relational comparison approach is very much a political project, capable of yielding unique  20 opportunities for critical engagement and intervention. I suggest that relational comparison also puts into action Bloemraad’s (2013:30) suggestion that “[c]omparison is most effective when it does analytical weight-lifting”. One’s research sites can effectively be deployed as an “analytical wedge” (Tarrow 2010:245), to pry insights each from the other. In my own case, I believe such approach has helped me to develop ‘thicker’ theory: to start to understand the larger ‘family’ of reparative projects; to use differences between my sites to think through larger modalities of repair; and to talk about emerging global patterns without assuming that reparative capitalism has a universal form.   1.3.1 ‘Separate Journeys, Similar path’?   In March 2017, while I was on leave from my PhD program to engage in my own repair processes following a serious car accident, Canada’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Jodi Wilson-Raybould, visited South Africa. Wilson-Raybould, a member of the Kwakwaka’wakw, a coastal First Nation in the Canadian province of British Columbia, was elected to the federal government as part of Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party of Canada in October 2015. The Liberals had made reconciliation with Indigenous peoples a central plank of their election campaign, and the purpose of Raybould-Wilson’s tour was to learn more about South Africa’s reconciliatory approach. The title of this section is taken from a talk given at the University of Cape Town during her visit. In it, Wilson-Raybould (2017) suggested that South Africa’s “path to reconciliation…offers many insights from which Canada can learn”. Noting that both countries had recognized a need to “right the wrongs of the past”, she suggested that addressing our respective histories is “not a choice, but a fundamental necessity for the future well-being of society and the population as a whole” (ibid.). The pundits at one of Canada’s  21 national newspapers, the Globe and Mail, took issue with Wilson-Raybould’s phrasing. In an unsigned editorial published the day after her talk, the newspaper stressed the demographic differences between the two countries, incorrectly extending these back to the time of Canada’s settlement and suggesting that it would thus be “a mistake to build a new Indigenous model based on anything other than Canada’s unique history” (Globe and Mail 2017). The editorial, in turn, sparked a heated rebuttal from Senator Murray Sinclair, a prominent Ojibway lawyer who served as the Chairman of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Indian Residential Schools from 2009 to 2015 (see Chapter 2). In his response, titled ‘Apartheid in Canada’, Sinclair (2017) not only dressed down the editors for their poor homework skills, he asserted that Canada had plenty to learn from South Africa. Among the lessons he specified were to “never trust the colonizer’s history”, that “racism is hard to overcome”, that “apartheid is economic as well as political and legal”, and that “without immediate economic and social reform, the legacies of racism easily live on” (ibid.).  In finding sufficient parallels between Canada and South Africa to draw from them my larger concept of ‘agrarian repair’, my position is obviously somewhat closer to that of Sinclair than that held by the national newspaper editors in question. Sinclair’s use of the term apartheid in the Canadian register is a frequent move among those wishing to critique Canada’s treatment of the Indigenous peoples that reside within its current borders (for other recent examples, see Henderson 2014; Kirkup 2017; Theirault 2013; Belanger and Yoon 2018). While scholars have suggested that such analogy is ultimately better understood as a matter of strategic mobilization than of semantic accuracy (see in particular Fairweather 1993; Cullingham 1997), the narrative has helped to motivate a number of the comparative studies of Canada and South Africa undertaken in recent decades (see for example, Bartlett 1988; Fairweather 2006; Cambre 2007;  22 Pienaar 2008; Horwitz and Newman 2010; Nagy 2012; Grey and James 2016; Horwitz 2016).7 My own research contributes to this body of work, while trying to attend to the challenges inherent to developing ‘grounded’ theory from nearly antipodean locations. For folding together two ragged ‘edges of empire’ (cf. Harris 2004) demands attention to their mismatched margins, both those on the periphery of the nation-states in question and those criss-crossing their worn interiors. In Chapters 2 and 4 I provide a detailed exploration of the historical and contextual background to the agrarian repair projects at the centre of my study. Here, I aim to provide a higher level, integrated summary to allow my colleagues working in and on South Africa to understand Canada, and vice versa.  Canada and South Africa shared the British as their dominant colonial power, offset against the Dutch in South Africa and the French in Canada. Both nations enacted practices of land dispossession, racial and ethnic segregation, disenfranchisement and oppression upon their pre-colonial inhabitants. While in Canada, disease and famine helped to suppress Indigenous resistance to colonial settlement, in South Africa a series of Frontier Wars played a significant role. In the Canadian prairie provinces, a series of historical treaties were signed by First Nations and the Canadian Crown. These continue to condition relationships between the parties today. Although treaty-making was also an important part of settler colonialism in South Africa (see Kalley 2001) the resulting agreements are not much a matter of political discussion and debate in that country today.  Despite these differences, comparisons between the two countries persist in both academic and popular accounts. One reason for this is the existence of a persistent rumour –                                                7 In particular, Horwitz (Horwitz and Newman 2010; Horwitz 2016) suggests that the analogy was one of the drivers for her work and muses that Fairweather (2006) might have been similarly motivated.  23 sufficiently established to have that most contemporary of markers, its own Reddit page8 – that Canada was the model for South Africa’s ‘native policy’. Such accounts are usually based on two common features. The first is the presence of a reserve system, codified in Canada by the 1876 Indian Act and in South Africa by the 1913 Native Lands Act (and later the 1936 Native Trusts and Land Act). Yet in addition to the different timelines for such legislation, critical scholars suggest that the laws were motivated by different rationales. Horwitz (2016:465-6), for example, suggests that while assimilation was the main goal of ‘native’ policy in Canada, in South Africa the aim was something of the obverse, namely, the ‘conservation’ of “traditional structures and customs” and as such a form of “retribalism”. My own view is that such account may construe a degree of ideological coherence that did not in fact exist in either country’s history. It also underplays certain common economic motives, namely, a desire to reduce competition for settlers in land and agricultural markets (see Carter 1990; Walker 2017). In both countries colonial officials similarly framed their endeavours as cultivating the economic ‘self-sufficiency’ of First Nations and African populations – even as these populations were allocated poor quality agricultural land (and relocated from that which they managed to secure despite), depriving them of the very resource that would allow them to achieve such condition (see Worden 1993; Pasternak 2016). The second major colonial feature shared by both Canada and South Africa regards the implementation of a pass system. In Canada, this was an unofficial policy initially instituted to quell unrest after the 1885 Northwest Rebellion, but which remained enshrined for decades on the prairies, limiting First Nations’ ability to gather or travel to market their crops (Carter 1990). In South Africa, passes first originated as a form of labour control for                                                8 See: https://www.reddit.com/r/AskHistorians/comments/1vlmh6/ive_heard_that_the_south_afriance_apartheid_law/  24 slaves and Khoi in Cape Colony in the 1760s and persisted in various forms in the decades that followed (Horwitz 2016). Following the onset of apartheid in 1948, South Africa’s reserve and pass systems were each repurposed to new, more extreme ends, with reserves being designated as supposed ethnic ‘homelands’ (or ‘Bantustans’) to which Africans were forcibly removed, and the pass system fortified to manage urban influx and unrest.  The issue of labour control points to another significant difference between the two national settings. This regards the centrality of African labour to the economy of South Africa during both the segregation (1910-1948) and apartheid (1948-1994) periods, when it sustained South Africa’s powerful mining sector, the commercial farms that originally provisioned this sector, and later urban manufacturing and service industries. In fact many (and most prominently Wolpe 1972) suggest that maintaining a cheap supply of labour for the mines was the central function of the South African reserve system. In the Canadian prairies, by contrast, First Nations labour was not central to the forms of commercial agriculture that served as the economic backbone of the region, with the exception of the Southern Alberta sugar beet industry (Laliberte and Satzewich 1999; Laliberte 2006). It is only recently that First Nations have come to be framed as a possible solution to a pronounced farm labour crisis (a narrative that One Earth Farms in fact revitalized) – such crisis ironically resulting from intense competition from the prairies’ own expanding oil and gas and minerals sectors. One result is that Canada appears as a more conventional or classical settler colony, where the targeted resource was land over labour. But recent scholarship is suggesting that land deserves more attention (alongside labour) in historical accounts of the evolution of colonialism and apartheid in South Africa as well (see Walker 2017).  25  All of this leaves aside what is arguably the largest contemporary difference between Canada and South Africa: namely, the extent to which the countries have undergone any form of transition from their settler colonial pasts. South Africa’s transition to democracy (1994) saw the country draft a new Constitution, eliminate the Land Acts (pass laws had been repealed in 1986), dismantle the Bantustans and incorporate their territory back into a nation-state with new provincial boundaries. In Canada, the repatriation of the Constitution (1982) saw the enshrinement of Aboriginal and treaty rights, but without any specificity as to what these might entail, leaving the matter to be determined in the courts. The Indian Act remains in place, although there are ongoing efforts to modernize its land management provisions. Tensions between First Nations – who view treaties as a nation-to-nation agreement – and provincial governments are sometimes stark. After protracted activism and agitation from First Nations and a series of court decisions in their favour, Canada implemented a land claims process in 1973. South Africa’s land reform program, instituted as part of the country’s democratic transition, is a much larger scale initiative, consisting of both a land claims-like restitution stream and an affirmative action type redistribution stream (Klug 2000). Both countries have undertaken truth commissions, but South Africa’s was considerably broader in scope (see Nagy 2012; Grey and James 2016). Indeed, Coulthard (2014:22) has argued that the concept of reconciliation, having been developed in “polities undergoing a formal ‘transition’ from the violent history of openly authoritarian regimes to more democratic forms of rule” (including, of course, South Africa) is of questionable appropriateness for Canada where no such formal transition period has occurred.   The simple summary would thus suggest that South Africa has gone considerably further towards addressing its settler colonial history, and indeed that it has broken with it, at least politically. Canada, by contrast, retains its settler coloniality through and through, and is rather  26 engaged in continually perfecting its practice in the contemporary period (see Pasternak 2016). Yet racialized poverty and inequality remains deeply entrenched in South Africa, perhaps particularly so in rural areas, leading some to suggest that the decolonial ambit of the nation’s democratic transition has not been achieved. Indeed, as I trace in Chapter 4, certain scholars argue that colonization has not only persisted in South Africa, but that it is being “reactivated” (A. Fraser 2007), including through the country’s land reform programs (A. Fraser 2007; Kepe and Hall 2018). These transitions bear out unevenly in South Africa and Canada amidst geographic and demographic differences. The combined area of the provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta (1.31 million square kilometers), where my Canadian study was situated, is actually slightly larger than the land mass of the whole of South Africa’s nine provinces (1.22 million square kilometres). But the prairie population is comically low (5.20 million people) by comparison, comprising only one tenth of that of South Africa (56.72 million people). Based on the 2011 census, the current demographic breakdown of South Africa is 76.4 per cent Black Africans, 9.1 per cent White, 8.9 per cent Coloured, and 2.5 per cent Asian. If one averages the figures for Saskatchewan and Alberta from the 2016 census, one comes out with 71.4 per cent European, 17.2 per cent Visible Minorities, and 11.4 per cent Aboriginal.9 As I suggested earlier in this chapter, the transitions in land ownership yielded by Canada’s land claims and South Africa’s land reform programs are unfolding at a point when each country is integrated into an increasingly globalized agro-food system. While each has deregulated its agricultural sector, South Africa’s liberalization has been far more aggressive. Commercial agriculture in both countries follows a productivist model, although there are hints                                                9 In Canada, the Aboriginal category includes both First Nations and Métis (as well as Inuit). Saskatchewan has the second highest Aboriginal population (16.3 per cent) in Canada, after Manitoba (17.0 per cent).   27 of post-productivism around the edges.10  There is plenty of exchange between the countries, not least in agricultural products (see Chapter 6). Saying all of this, there remains some possibility that the ensuing document will remain corrupted by a kind of Canadian self-referentialism, hinted at above in our apparent claim to a role in South Africa’s colonial history that we evidently did not play. Irritatingly, Canada similarly overstates our role in ending apartheid, with constant references to former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s outspoken criticism of the regime and his support for economic sanctions against South Africa. Critical scholars, meanwhile, have suggested that our policies around the matter were in fact substantially more ambiguous and complex (Freeman 1997, Saul 2010). Even today, Canada continues to use the conditions that pertained under apartheid as our foil, a benchmark against we measure the various crises that beset Indigenous communities – such as highly disproportionate incarceration rates (see MacDonald 2016) and an expanding Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) epidemic (Bellegarde 2016).11 This is the conjoined and sickly twin to liberal hopes that the South Africa will lead the way and tell us how to do the next, most difficult part: achieving reconciliation without shedding all of our capitalistic settler colonial proclivities.    1.4 Positionality, Methodology, Ethics I am not sure my research escapes fully escapes these liberal tendencies either. In fact, Raganathan (2016) has recently pointed out the fundamental impossibility of such goal,                                                10 Never were the hints of post-productivism clearer to me than when a friend suggested that we meet for breakfast at Cape Town’s Oranjezicht Farmers Market. Touring the booths, I was amazed by how similar it was to Vancouver’s Trout Lake Farmers Market, right down to the vendor specializing in carnivorous plants. Although I am still not sure what this says about the future of humanity under capitalism, I am not sure it is a positive sign. 11 The HIV situation is especially offensive given Canada’s deep history of stealing South Africa’s doctors even as that country grapples with its own HIV crisis, despite repeated international entreaties that we should stop. In 2009, fully 20% of the medical doctors in Saskatchewan were South African immigrants (Henheffer 2009).  28 suggesting that critical scholars must launch their attacks on liberalism from both inside and outside of its doctrines. Raganathan highlights the “inherently raced” liberal rubrics (e.g. “justice”, “law”, “democracy”) that underpin grassroots demands for environmental justice – the very same ones that, pertinent to this study, underlie transitional justice approaches including truth commissions and reparations programs. “Thus the difficult, soul searching questions”, she writes, becomes whether justice-oriented scholarship and activism can “turn a self-reflexive eye on its liberal roots” (Raganathan 2016:7), especially given “how hegemonic liberalism [currently] is” (ibid.:13). In my case, the problem extends a ways back to my family roots, ironically enough in both agriculture and the railways, the two industries that effectively colonized the Canadian prairies. My parents were both prairie kids. My maternal great-grandparents were Doukhobors, dissenters from the Russian Orthodox Church who arrived in Canada fleeing persecution and settled on the prairies on dispossessed First Nations’ land at the turn of the 20th century. While many in the sect subsequently relocated to South-Eastern British Columbia, my family stayed behind in Saskatchewan, my great-grandparents and grandparents farming grain near the town of Canora. My mother’s childhood school photos are a sea of blonde heads. First Nations children remained sequestered in Canada’s systems of Indian Residential and Day Schools, their families on reserves near Fort Pelly, some 50 kilometres away (“a huge distance in those days”, says my aunt). On my father’s side, my great-grandfather and grandfather both worked for the Canadian National Railway, the former as an executive and the latter as a draftsperson before becoming a locomotive safety inspector with the federal civil service. My great-aunt Nan Shipley (née Sommerville) was well known in my father’s hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba for authoring a series of books – several of them about female missionaries working at First Nations settlements  29 (‘Anna and the Indians’, published in 1955; ‘Frances and the Crees’, published in 1957). She also coordinated the province’s first “Indian handicrafts sales centre” (University of Manitoba Libraries 2016).  Prior to starting my dissertation, I worked at various public sector and not-for-profit jobs in agriculture for nearly a decade. This gave me a good appreciation of the issues and lexicon in the sector, and I continued to consult for agricultural organizations to cover research and living expenses over the course of my PhD program. I wrote most of this dissertation while a student at the University of British Columbia (UBC), which lies on “the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) people” (UBC 2017). I finished it during the first stage of a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Toronto, which operates on what “for thousands of years has been the traditional land of the Huron-Wendat, the Seneca, and most recently, the Mississaugas of the Credit River” (University of Toronto 2016). Some are beginning to question whether such ‘land acknowledgements’ have become so scripted and as to be superficial or emptied of meaning (see H. King 2019). Scholars have similarly postulated that reflexive acknowledgements of positionality – while necessary in the research process and beyond – may be similarly compromised, or worse that they work to actively recentre the emotions and experiences of (often white) settler non-Indigenous subjects, thereby resubstantiating settler colonialism (see Kobayashi 2003; de Leeuw and Hunt 2018). I agree with these scholars that such statements cannot be taken as a stand in for broader anti-racist and anti-colonial commitments. Thus, while my work is motivated by a concern for social justice, it presumes no easy ‘decolonizing methodology’ or simple project of “rewriting and rerighting” the colonized (L. Smith 2010 [1999]), or for that matter “unsettling” the settler colonist (see Regan 2010). Rather, my research recognizes that any claim to knowledge is partial and situated in  30 ways that its author may never fully understand (Haraway 1988). As such, I aim for a practice of solidarity that does not insist on singularity – that is, it pursues, as Barron (2000) has put it, a ‘politics of articulation’ rather than a ‘politics of representation’.  To put such practice into action, I have relied on what are commonly called ‘mixed methods’, permeated in my case with an ethnographic sensibility. My work is primarily qualitative but incorporates some quantitative analysis as well. The later included researching statistics that would help to contextualize my research, tracking land transactions and prices by analyzing property deeds and other instruments, and analyzing corporate financial statements and balance sheets. On the qualitative side, I undertook field work in both Canada and South Africa, in each case travelling to several communities to conduct a series of semi-structured interviews and occasionally participant observation. I complemented this work with a detailed review of publicly available corporate and financial records, some published directly by the firms in question (for example on corporate websites) and some filed with securities regulators. Where communities were permitted and willing to share documents related to their interactions with the firms, I reviewed those as well. Finally, I followed media coverage of the ventures closely, relying on profiles or journalistic interviews with company executives – who by and large declined to participate in my research – to gain insight into their personal philosophies and characters. I describe the particular methods used in my studies of One Earth Farms and the Furturegrowth Agri-Fund in Chapters 3 and 5, respectively.   While my methodological approach had both strengths and weaknesses, it necessitates two cautions with respect to interpreting my findings. On the community side, I necessarily sacrificed depth for breadth because I wanted to understand the larger corporate dynamics operating across communities. My grasp on intra-community dynamics and the level of  31 community support for the ventures I studied is limited at best. Since decisions about participation in the projects were taken by community leaders and in South Africa were sometimes a government-imposed conditionality (see Chapters 3 and 5), community participation in the ‘agrarian repair’ projects in question should not be construed as conveying broad approval. Indeed, in some cases (described further in the chapters) it was unclear that community members were aware of the existence of a given project, never mind familiar with its particular details. On the corporate side, in turn, my selection of one ‘agrarian repair’ project in each country required me to focus on specific financial vehicles and firms. However, my intent was never to ‘show up’ these actors as particularly egregious corporate villains or uniquely 'bad apples' (forgive the fruit pun). The firms and vehicles in question tended to present themselves as pinnacles of social responsibility, a framing that then invites closer scrutiny, or at least it did mine. But rather than crusading against any particular financial or corporate firm, my objective has always been to say something about the dynamics of capitalism, here in its reparative form. I document the specificities of the projects and the companies involved only insofar as it is necessary to achieve that goal.  As a UBC student, my research required approval from the University’s Behavioural Research Ethics Board (BREB), who reviewed my proposed methodology and the forms and processes I used to obtain consent from research participants prior to my fieldwork. With the exception of certain ‘expert interviews’ where the Board permits more flexibility, participants were informed as to the possible risks associated with participating in my research and given the choice of having their comments attributed or their confidentiality maintained. I informed participants that in the latter case, readers may still be able to identify them based on their position and/or interview responses. Since participants’ decisions were split on this matter, I  32 have elected to treat everyone anonymously (providing only the interview number and date in the text below), unless I have explicitly cleared using a participant’s name with them. My BREB approval also committed me to sharing my findings with research participants and the larger public. I have started on this process by co-authoring an article for the popular press (Magnan and Sommerville 2012) and contributing to a South African Broadcasting Corporation investigative journalism program (Friedman 2016). Although a prolonged medical recovery has so far prevented me from undertaking further field visits, I keep in regular contact with research participants and am committed to returning to both sites to share the results of my work. Indeed, I hope to continue undertaking research in each location over the longer term.   1.5 Broken Repairs?  In a recent piece responding to a provocation by Christophers (2015a) and critiquing early approaches to understanding agro-food financialization, one of the concerns raised by Ouma (2015) is the insufficient attention paid by scholars to the many barriers to the phenomenon. Noting the distinctive biophysical, socioecological and political features characterizing farmland and agriculture, Ouma (2015:226) suggests that “It is not for nothing that a common joke [at] agri-investment conferences is ‘how to make [a] million in agriculture? Start with two’. What Ouma seems not to realize is that this is simply a retreading of an old quip long made by farmers, namely that making a ‘small fortune’ in agriculture depends on starting with a ‘big one’. Beyond leaving one to wonder whether, in a financialized era, even the jokes are derivative, Ouma’s point speaks to the mixed track record of agricultural investment projects globally, many of which have failed early in their operations. Agriculture evidently does not turn out to be the portfolio breadwinner that certain financiers anticipated. In the chapters that follow,  33 I describe how the same trend affects ‘agrarian repair’ projects, which similarly struggle to deliver the financial returns that investors apparently expect.  If ‘agrarian repair’ projects falter on the financial front, so too is their delivery of the promulgated social returns decidedly shaky. Indeed, the projects seem rather to reinscribe many of the colonial injustices they purport to address through revitalized racial essentialisms, oppressions and extractions. This will perhaps be unsurprising to critical scholars – after all, Christophers (2015b) himself has noted how quickly processes of financial ‘inclusion’ can turn to ‘exploitation’. What is perhaps more surprising (or in any case less intuitive) is the role that the projects’ supposed contributions to repairing colonial and racial injustices play in facilitating such exploitation. In the ‘agrarian repair’ projects I document, claims to be providing racial and colonial redress work to pry open all manner of accumulation channels. Facilitating access to investment finance, recently returned land, government subsidies, and a variety of other benefits, such projects make contemporary reparations programs a site of value appropriation for investors, minimizing the redistributive potential of such programs. As such, the projects provide important insights into the functioning of a contemporary form of capitalism that I call ‘reparative capitalism’ and the material returns it may provide. Over the following four chapters, I trace the mechanics and modalities of ‘agrarian repair’ projects in order to help elaborate this larger concept. Beginning with my Canadian research, Chapter 2 traces the shifting intersections of finance, farming and First Nations in the prairie provinces from settlement until the present day. I explore the trajectory of agricultural development in the region, the emergence of various investment models in recent years, the practices of dispossession and discrimination that delimited First Nations’ participation in commercial farming historically, and efforts to address these through land claims and targeted  34 agricultural support programs. In Chapter 3, I turn to an examination of One Earth Farms, my Canadian ‘agrarian repair’ project. I detail the venture’s investment rationale and business model, the specific benefits it promised to First Nations, and its rapid expansion and collapse following successive financial losses. Turning then to my South African study, Chapter 4 examines the establishment and expansion of the country’s commercial farming sector, recent corporatization and financialization processes therein, the historical dispossessions and oppressions that underpinned Africans’ marginalization in the sector, and the land and agrarian reform programs that South Africa has implemented as part of its democratic transition. The activities of the Futuregrowth Agri-Fund ‘agrarian repair’ project and its associates, in turn, are detailed in Chapter 5. I trace several shifts in the Fund’s investment model, the resulting engagements with African land reform beneficiaries, and the companies’ persistence (and indeed expansion) despite unimpressive financial returns. Having set out these empirics, in the final chapter of the dissertation (Chapter 6), I attempt to bridge and reach beyond my two research sites by integrating insights from the underlying ‘agrarian repair’ projects into a set of preliminary thoughts about the operations and functions of ‘reparative capitalism’. I close by reviewing recent happenings in Canada and South Africa since the completion of my field work, identifying topics and questions for further research.           35      36 Chapter 2: Finance, Farming and First Nations in the Canadian Prairies   2.1 Introduction: In Fort Qu’Appelle There are few stretches of road in in the prairies as thickly marked by Canada's continuing colonial history as the stretch of Broadway Street running through downtown Fort Qu’Appelle, a small town in South-Eastern Saskatchewan. On this Saturday in July 2014, I have stopped to examine a building that caught my eye on my drive through town the previous day. It is the 1897 storefront of the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC), now an office for Stone Ridge Realty, a real estate brokerage for the surrounding region (Figure 2.1).12 The store replaced an HBC fur-trading post established on the edge of the current town in 1864, which in 1874 served as the negotiating grounds for Treaty Four, one of the Numbered Treaties that continue to frame relationships between First Nations and the settler state in the region, and in 1885 as a temporary camp for the Canadian Militia during the Northwest Rebellion, a five-month insurgency against the Canadian government by Métis peoples.13 These two events and the HBC’s subsequent move into the centre of town to pursue retail merchandising were each influenced by the collapse of the plains bison, previously the sustenance of Aboriginal peoples and key to the establishment of the                                                12 HBC was incorporated in 1670 under English Royal Charter and is the oldest joint-stock merchandising company in the English-speaking world. A fur-trading business for most of its history, HBC held a commercial monopoly over ‘Ruperts Land’, a region that includes most of present-day Saskatchewan and Alberta, before selling these lands to Canada in 1868. HBC’s system of trading posts was central to the colonization of the prairies. After the end of the fur trade, the company established a large network of retail stores across Canada. HBC was purchased by an American financier, Jerry Zucker, in 2006, and then by NRDC Equity Partners, a private equity firm, in 2008. It was taken public on the Toronto Stock Exchange in 2012.  13 The Northwest Rebellion was an uprising of Métis people against the government of Canada on account of the latter’s failure to protect their land, rights and survival as distinct peoples. Although historians for many years suggested that First Nations also participated in the Rebellion, Stonechild and Waiser (1997) suggest that the government misconstrued this participation to silence First Nations demands for a renegotiation of Treaties.   37 HBC’s trading empire on the prairies. The immigrants beginning to turn the soil of the region’s recently demarcated farms presented new opportunities for merchants, but also raised significant  Figure 2.1: Stone Ridge Realty Inc. (Former HBC Store), Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan, Canada, July 2014   38 (Photo by author)  concerns among First Nations who found their lands subject to new forms of speculation and settlement pressure. Over the coming decades, the fortunes of the HBC and other Fort Qu’Appelle merchants waxed and waned with the business of these farmers. By 2014, the town had mostly become a retirement community for former rural residents and a restocking point for tourists exploring the scenic Qu’Appelle River Valley. The realtor’s office is closed for the weekend, but the postings in the window display more than a dozen farms for sale, part of a major shake-up in farmland ownership encouraged by a surge in agricultural commodity prices after several difficult decades.  If farmers have been struggling, another segment of Saskatchewan’s population appears to be on the ascent, and on the make. Two blocks west of the old HBC store sits a branch of the Peace Hills Trust (PHT), “Canada’s paramount First Nations Financial Institute” (PHT 2018), established in 1980 and owned by the Samson Cree Nation, whose reserve lands are near Maskwacis (formerly Hobbema) in the neighbouring province of Alberta. Comprising eight branches and controlling approximately CAD 1.3 billion in assets by 2014, the PHT serves a largely First Nations clientele (PHT 2015).14 Its main business is as a depository for the many trusts that have been established during four decades of land claims settlements and economic development projects involving First Nations in the region. The PHT building, a former Indian and Northern Affairs Canada office, was purchased in 1994 using settlement funds obtained by Star Blanket Cree Nation, a signatory to Treaty Four and eventual participant in One Earth Farms                                                14 On 1 March 2009 (a date that roughly corresponds with the launch of OEF, the investment project examined in the next chapter), the Bank of Canada’s exchange rate was CAD 1 = ZAR 7.87.   39 (OEF), the agricultural investment venture I will examine in Chapter 4.15 Star Blanket also owns several nearby lots along Broadway Street, including one that hosts, on summer Saturdays like this one, the Fort Qu’Appelle and District Farmers’ Market. I stop to outfit myself with dinner fixings for my return to a municipal campsite that afternoon. On Monday morning, I will meet with a Council member from Muskowekwan First Nation, another OEF participant, at the Treaty Four Governance Centre, located on the South side of town. Built in 2000, the centre features what engineer Gary Bosgoed (quoted in LaRose 2000) describes as “the largest tipi in the world – a conical chamber…used by the 34 Treaty Four Chiefs as their legislative assembly”. The tipi is clearly visible from Highway 10, a regional highway connecting Fort Qu’Appelle to Yorkton, a larger town close to the lands that my maternal great-grandparents and grandparents once farmed as Doukhobor settlers to Saskatchewan.  These Fort Qu’Appelle landmarks point to the shifting relationships between First Nations, farmers, and finance that are characteristic of early twenty-first century agrarian change in the prairie provinces. The redeployment of the one-time storefront of the HBC, the regional primogenitor of colonial merchant capitalism, as a real estate office points to the growing economic traction of the so-called FIRE (Finance, Insurance and Real Estate) sector, even on the mostly rural prairies. Such sector extracts profits from farmers just as merchants once did, albeit now through rent, interest, capital gains on farm sales, and insurance premiums rather than by hawking agricultural and domestic provisions. First Nations’ growing political economic power                                                15 Under the Government of Canada’s corporate identity program, the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development has had several applied titles in recent decades: Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (1970 to 2011); Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (2011 to 2015); and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (thereafter). In August 2017 Canada’s Liberal government announced that it would replace the department with two separate agencies: Indigenous Services Canada and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada. On the prairies, the department is still popularly referred to by its sometime acronym, INAC, which I use in this dissertation.   40 as land holders, as an emerging rentier class, and as a financial services provider to their peers, in turn, seems to turn on its head their long-time marginalization within a largely agricultural economy. In the meantime, farmers, who alternately prospered and floundered in this economy, embark on divergent paths, with some exiting agriculture, others expanding according to the productivist model that has long dominated in the region, and still others making tentative forays into the post-productivism on display at the farmers' market. These different tensions and trajectories underlie OEF, and the processes of agrarian repair the venture sought to employ. This chapter provides the context necessary to understanding these developments and, in keeping with the framing laid out in Chapter 1, necessarily loops back to consider the historic circumstances that underlie contemporary happenings. Indeed, the week after my tour through Fort Qu’Appelle will find me meeting with George Lafond, then Treaty Commissioner for Saskatchewan and a member of the Muskeg Lake First Nation (Treaty Six), who listens to my introductory spiel, sitting back, raising one eyebrow and asking: “But Melanie, how far back are you going to go?”16 (Interview 33, 31 July 2014). I laugh and tell him that upon reading my earliest attempt at writing about OEF back in 2011, one professor had shaken his head, frowning and exclaiming “Too much history!” Drawing together points from several of my subsequent publications and augmented with additional insights some seven years later, this chapter is my considered response to both of them.  The remainder of the chapter is divided into five sections. The first describes the historic structure and organization of farming on the Canadian prairies, focusing in particular on the                                                16 The Office of the Treaty Commissioner (OTC) was established in 1989 by the then Federation of Saskatchewan Indians and the Government of Canada. Over the years, its mandates have included advising the two parties on matters including Treaty Land Entitlement, education, First Nations’ livelihoods, reconciliation, and jurisdictional issues (see: http://www.otc.ca).  41 grain and oilseeds and beef cattle sectors where OEF established operations. I examine shifts in government supports for agriculture; challenges related to farm income, debt, labour and succession; and resulting farm consolidation patterns. I then turn to the period marked by the commodity boom and the financial crisis of 2007/8, tracing the emergence of a suite of new investment vehicles focusing on large-scale farmland ownership or – as in the case of OEF – agricultural production. I connect these developments with the aforementioned restructuring trends and explore investment managers’ efforts to market their vehicles as beneficial to a sector undergoing continuous change and to Canadians more broadly. In the third section I backtrack to consider the troubling history of First Nations’ farming activities following historic treaties, the dispossession of much of their traditional territories through the reserve system, and racially discriminatory government policies that preserved competitive advantages for the region’s white settler farmers. First Nations’ resistance to these policies and to mid-century assimilation efforts pushed the government to change tacks, marking the origin of the current slate of recognition and reconciliation politics characterizing Canada’s relations with Aboriginal peoples. I next turn to the claims lodged by First Nations with respect to land and other treaty-related matters, documenting the expansion in First Nations’ agricultural landholdings through claims settlements. Despite some First Nations’ efforts to turn these lands towards a deepened participation in farming, I show that numerous structural barriers remain, differentially exposing First Nations to the risks inherent in farming and the intense restructuring pressures of recent decades. Finally, I consider the complex web of land administration and tenure regimes characterizing First Nations’ reserves in Saskatchewan and Alberta, and recent efforts to ‘modernize’ such regimes to facilitate investment and natural resource development projects. Projects such as OEF, which interlink with these processes, are seen by some as a possible means  42 of addressing First Nations’ poverty and desire for self-determination. However, such projects are also entangled with the interests of the settler colonial state in decreasing its supports to Indigenous peoples by integrating them into capitalist resource extraction regimes.   2.2 The Structure and Organization of Farming on the Canadian Prairies Agriculture was historically the economic backbone of the prairie region. Commercially oriented from its inception, prairie farming today is highly specialized and strongly export-oriented. While agriculture’s economic significance has waned relative to other natural resources like oil and gas and the prairies’ growing service industry in recent decades, it remains important, especially during broader economic downturns or slowdowns. In 2008, when executives at Sprott Resource Corporation (SRC) were laying the groundwork for OEF, primary agriculture contributed 9 per cent of Saskatchewan’s GDP and comprised 8 per cent of employment in the province. In Alberta, the numbers were 0.01 per cent of GDP and 3 per cent of employment.17  The dominant agricultural commodities produced in the prairie provinces are grains and oilseeds as well as beef cattle. Primary production in both sectors remains dominated by family farming arrangements, with a high degree of concentration in the up- and downstream sectors. Grain and oilseed producers grow a mix of spring- and fall-seeded crops, the top three in recent years being wheat, canola and corn (Government of Saskatchewan 2016). In cattle, cow-calf ranches dominate, with producers generally arranging for spring calving and summer pasturing before selling calves on to backgrounding and finishing operations prior to slaughter (Canadian Beef 2017). As they are typically practiced on the prairies, both sectors are land extensive but                                                17 See Statistics Canada CANSIM Table 379-0030.  43 have relatively low labour needs, and both are characterized by a low-margin, high volume productivist orientation (Bradshaw 2004). Crop production also depends heavily on the use of agrichemicals (fertilizers and pesticides) and is highly mechanized. The use of forward contracts is becoming increasingly common in both crop and cattle production, as is the use of custom operators (e.g. for seeding, spraying, or combining) in grain operations. The system of family farming that prevails on the prairies has its roots in the settlement of the region through the Dominion Lands Act (1872), under which land was surveyed and applicants were granted a parcel of 160 acres (a quarter section) for a small administration fee.18 Agriculture was coupled with immigration in section 95 of Canada’s Constitution and in early policy after Confederation (1867), and the Act was widely advertised to attract immigrants, in particular from elsewhere in the British Empire. The Constitution also established the federal and provincial (or territorial) governments’ joint responsibility for agriculture, which continues today.  Hedley (2015) suggests that prior to the First World War, governments were reluctant to directly intervene in agriculture beyond certain acts establishing grain standards, inspection regimes, and a rail subsidy for prairie grains, which were seen as necessary to ensuring fairness for farmers among other economic participants. Together with the National Policy (1879), this legislation sought to protect the development of an industrial base in Eastern Canada, positioning Western Canada as a supplier of raw materials – an arrangement that the author suggests recreated “the original colonial policy of Great Britain”, albeit within domestic borders (Hedley                                                18 The Dominion Lands Act also allowed for the HBC to retain five per cent of the lands in its original charter, and for sizeable grants to the Canadian Pacific Railway, to finance construction of the transcontinental railroad demanded by the province of British Columbia as a condition of joining Confederation. The use of private colonization companies to settle these and other lands helped to create a speculative real estate boom that lasted until 1892 (Lalonde 2006).  44 2015:4). Early surpluses, a marked decline in demand and grain prices after World War I, and the difficulties posed by the Great Depression, drought, and insect damage encouraged the emergence of producer grain co-operatives and the establishment of the Canadian Wheat Board, whose price supports and monopoly on the import and export of wheat constituted the first ongoing support mechanism in Canadian agriculture.19 Further price supports initiated during the Second World War, together with a concern that agriculture should absorb labour returning from and displaced by the fighting, cleared the way for a more comprehensive system of agricultural supports by the late 1950s. The resulting set of programs, which provided farmers with access to subsidized credit, advance payments, marketing arrangements, price stabilization, and crop insurance, persisted through the 1960s and 1970s (Hedley 2015). Skogstad (2008) suggests that this strong ‘state assistance’ paradigm for agriculture in the post-war decades was guided by the belief that agriculture was an exceptional economic sector, where government intervention was required for the good and protection of society. Such paradigm recognized both the “unmanageable natural risks” faced by farmers (e.g. with respect to weather and disease outbreaks) and that “agricultural markets were subject to inequities in the bargaining power of market participants and sharp fluctuations in commodity prices” (Skogstad 2008:9). Governments of the time were also concerned to ensure a measure of parity between incomes in the agricultural and non-agricultural sectors (Hedley 2015).  The early 1980s marked the onset of several difficult decades for prairie farmers. The market restrictions imposed by the USSR grain embargo20, the high interest rates brought on by a                                                19 The Canadian Wheat Board was initially created for the 1919 crop year to protect against falling prices after the war. The Board was revived in 1935 after co-operative wheat pools ran into problems, due in part to their reluctance to use futures markets to protect their inventory and hedge against price changes (Hedley 2015).   20 The USSR’s invasion of Afghanistan in 1980 resulted in a grain embargo undertaken by the USA, Australia, European Community, Argentina and Canada.   45 tightening of monetary supplies intended to combat inflation in the US (the ‘Volcker shock’), and the export subsidies included in the 1985 US Farm Bill combined to pinch Canadian grain and oilseeds producers severely (ibid.). Repeated droughts through the latter half of the decade resulted in several ad hoc response programs as well as provincial legislation, including the Saskatchewan Farm Security Act, intended to help mitigate against heightened rates of farm bankruptcy, foreclosure, and forced sales (Christie 1991).21 At the same time, developments in international political economy began to shift the policy paradigm for Canadian agriculture. The liberalization of trade through the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement (CUSTA, 1989), the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA, 1994) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Agriculture (1995) increased the export orientation of prairie farming. From the mid-1990s onwards, government supports to agriculture have been delivered under so-called Federal-Provincial-Territorial framework agreements, negotiated every five years by the governments in question.  Agricultural neoliberalization greatly shifted the landscape of risk for prairie farmers. CUSTA terminated a two-price program stabilizing the price of wheat used for domestic consumption (around 10 per cent of total production). Cattle producers, meanwhile, developed a deepened dependence on the US as an export market for both live animals and beef. The Crow Rate grain transportation subsidy was eliminated (1995) and farmer-owned grain handling cooperatives underwent a tangled series of mergers and demutualizations (1996-2007),                                                21 The Saskatchewan Farm Security Act, introduced in 1988, consolidated five prior Acts (or portions thereof) that had previously formed the basis for farm protection legislation in the province. Included among these was the Saskatchewan Farm Ownership Act, 1974, which prohibited non-Saskatchewan residents from owning Saskatchewan farmland. The 1988 Act combined these farm ownership rules with home quarter protection provisions and revised farm foreclosure procedures (Government of Saskatchewan 2015). At the time, the Department of Justice opined that “[t]aken together, Saskatchewan probably has the most protective legal environment in North America” when it came to farmland (Saskatchewan Department of Justice 1988:2).  46 eventually consolidating into a single private company, Viterra, which would later perform some of OEF’s marketing.22  The Canadian Wheat Board was similarly reorganized and its single desk marketing power eventually dissolved (2006-2012) (Desmarais et al 2015).23 Provincial restrictions put in place in 1974 prohibiting non-Saskatchewan residents from owning farmland were loosened, opening the land market to Canadian citizens and permanent residents (2002) (see Desmarais et al 2016). In keeping with the doctrines of the WTO and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Canada shifted from commodity-specific price supports to ‘whole farm’ income stabilization, although cattle producers initially opted not to participate in these programs due to fear of countervail action such as the US had recently taken against Canadian hog producers (Hedley 2015). Overall state supports to agricultural producers declined dramatically, from 36 per cent of gross farm receipts in 1986-8 to only 16 per cent by 1995-7, mainly due to the removal of market price supports for grains (OECD 2013). Although they subsequently rose slightly to 22 per cent by 2004-6 to help offset grain market constrictions associated with the Asian financial crisis  they remained below average among OECD members (OECD 2007).24 Moreover, where supports were retained, Skogstad (2008) suggests that they were reoriented towards a ‘competitive’ paradigm that emphasized the need for farmers to boost their productivity, efficiency, market-orientation, and self-reliance.                                                 22 In 2012, Viterra was purchased through a three-way split between Glencore International (a publicly-traded, multinational commodity trading and mining company), Richardson International (a privately held Canadian grain and oilseeds processor) and Agrium (a publicly traded agricultural input firm, itself later acquired by PotashCorp, originally a crown corporation created by the Saskatchewan government). 23 The Board continued on as a voluntary marketing organization (changing its name to CWB). In 2015, it was announced that a 50.1 per cent majority stake in CWB would be acquired by Global Grain Group, a joint venture of Bunge Limited (a publicly-traded American agribusiness and food company) and the Saudi Agricultural and Livestock Investment Company. The CWB’s name was changed to G3 Canada Ltd. 24 Developments subsequent to 2006 are covered in the next section of this chapter.  47 The result in the prairie provinces as elsewhere in Canada has been the acceleration of a long-term trend towards farm consolidation. From their peak in 1939, farm numbers decreased steadily, and sizes increased as some families exited the sector and others absorbed available land (Figure 2.2). Farm incomes declined steadily (when measured in real terms) after 1950 (Skogstad 2008:98-9), and by the early 2000s farm organizations were deeply agitated about a ‘farm income crisis’ given persistently low and negative returns from the market (NFU 2005, CFA 2006). Grain and oilseeds producers in particular had experienced a sustained period of low commodity prices that, together with bad weather, battered their bottom lines. Parliamentary  48   Figure 2.2: Farm Consolidation in Saskatchewan and Alberta, Canada 1921 to 2016  (Source: data from Statistics Canada CANSIM table 004-0001)05001000150020002500300035000500001000001500002000002500003000001921 1931 1941 1951 1961 1971 1981 1991 2001 2011Average Size of FarmsNumber of FarmsYearsSaskatchewan Farm Numbers Alberta Farm NumbersSaskatchewan Average Farm Size Alberta Average Farm Size 49 investigations into the root of the crisis highlighted the growing share of farmers’ dollars going to input providers as well as the uneven playing field faced by Canadian producers given continuing subsidization in the US and the European Union (SCAAF 2000; Easter 2005). These economic woes spread to the cattle sector after the discovery of a case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) on an Alberta farm in 2003, resulting in temporary border closures. The implementation of the US’ Country of Origin Labelling program in 2008 further restricted cattle sales and prices.25 Nonetheless, federal and provincial governments continued to insist that farmers become responsible for managing a larger proportion of the risks inherent to agriculture and stabilizing their own operations and incomes. In keeping with the productivist flavour of agricultural policy in past decades, analysts suggest that under recent policy iterations, it is the largest farms that harvest the majority of the government support dollars that remain (Mussell 2010, Brown 2017).   Alongside the drive towards consolidation, these challenging conditions have had several important implications for the structure and organization of the prairie farming sector. First, as part of their efforts to expand their farms and capture further economies of scale, farmers have purchased additional lands, but have also leased them, usually under cash rental arrangements with neighbors that have exited the sector, their descendants, the provincial Crown, or neighboring First Nations. Census data reveal that by 2006 (the last agricultural census before OEF established operations), 68 per cent of Saskatchewan farm operations leased some portion of their lands, and that for the province as a whole farmers’ owned land base had decreased by                                                25 The Country of Origin Labelling (COOL) program required that American packers and processors identify the origin of fresh beef (among other products) on product packaging. The program created additional tracking and labeling costs for packers, who responded by refusing to accept Canadian cattle, by discounting prices and by limiting processing to particular days. After four successive WTO rulings in Canada’s favour, the US finally repealed COOL in December 2015.  50 10.8 per cent while their leased land base had increased by 23.1 per cent since 1981.26 This could imply a decline in farmers’ overall tenure security and farm resilience, since owned land can be a valuable source of equity in years of slim margins. It also points to the erosion of farmers’ control over the capital gains that derive from land appreciation. Recently, this shift has facilitated the emergence of what I describe as a ‘lease-heavy, large farm’ model of operations among some farmers, backed by advocates who argue that capital ‘works harder’ on the operations side of farming (as compared with the property side). Such commentators suggest that there need no longer be a link between farmland ownership and agricultural production on the prairies (see McClinton 2006; Hursh 2013). The second important shift in prairie farming is that farmers have relied more and more heavily on credit, meaning that total farm debt for Saskatchewan and Alberta climbed from CAD 7.6 million in 1981 to CAD 19.1 million by 2006. Farmers retain access to subsidized borrowing via Farm Credit Canada (FCC), a Crown corporation that currently controls a third of the lending market. But FCC’s operations have become more market-oriented since the 1980s (see Martin and Clapp 2015) and its preferential access to the perceived ‘top tier’ of farmers is under attack from critics who purport an unfair advantage over mainstream lenders (Bergevin and Poschmann 2013; Dorosh 2014). This criticism is despite mainstream banks’ limited uptake of the loan guarantees that they can access under the Canadian Agricultural Loans Act, another form of subsidized credit available to farmers (AAFC 2017).  Both farmers’ shift towards leasing over owning land and their growing dependence of farm credit are mediated by two underlying factors. The first is interest rates, which have been on a general downwards trend since the mid-1990s. The second is land values which, despite the                                                26 See Statistics Canada CANSIM Table 004-0204.  51 long-term decline in farm incomes, remained relatively stable on the prairies, decreasing by 24 per cent in Saskatchewan between 1985 and 2006 and increasing by 55 per cent in Alberta over the same period (FCC 2017). Since land makes up the majority of farm assets, healthy land prices work to reduce farmers’ average debt-to-asset ratio, a point that some interlocutors use to suggest that farmers are overall in good economic health and could undergo further cuts to agricultural subsidies (Painter 2005; Sparling and Uzea 2012). In an interesting framing that has both parallels and tensions with advocacy around the ‘lease-heavy, large farm’ model noted above, some analysts suggest a need for farmers to “separate the farmland investment decision from farm operating decisions” (Painter 2010:1). As Oltmans (2007, quoted in Painter 2010:2) puts it, farmers ought to recognize that they are “investors in the land” as well as “producers on the land". The last two important changes in the prairie farming sector relate not to farmers’ actions and decisions within it, but rather their exit from the sector. Canadian farms are facing a major succession crisis, with national news headlines expressing growing concern about the rapidly advancing average age of prairie farmers (Turner 2011, Smith-Cross 2017). In part this relates to the reluctance of many rural young people to pursue careers in farming, rather choosing other urban or other resource sector positions. But even where children wish to take over the farm, intergenerational transfer presents significant financial challenges, with parents often needing to liberate capital to fund their retirement and children under pressure to further expand operations to maintain viability. Meanwhile, new farmers have trouble getting started without a land base transferred from the previous generation or other assets to rely upon as a source of equity. Together with competition from the oil and gas sector, these succession challenges have also contributed to a severe shortage in farm labour affecting many prairie farms. Even as farmers  52 manage ever larger and more complex operations, affordable help has become increasingly difficult to find.   2.3 A New Era for Prairie Agriculture?  If a historical reliance on the unstable returns of agriculture contributed to the prairies’ reputation as a ‘flyover region’ during the latter half of the 20th Century, increasing global commodity prices in late 2007 seemed poised to give the region new stature. Rising prices for prairie resources such as oil and gas, potash, and uranium helped drive shifts in government at both the federal and provincial level. Federally, 2006 saw the election of the Conservative Party of Canada, a right-wing party that championed a populist ideology of maximizing resource extraction as a matter of good ‘common sense’ (Peyton and Franks 2016). Provincially, the centre-right Saskatchewan Party displaced the long-governing social democrat New Democratic Party (NDP) in 2007, employing a similar political stance (Alberta was more resolutely centre-right, being governed by the Progressive Conservatives from 1971 to 2015). The extension of the commodity boom into agriculture following a surge in food prices in 2007 was met with great enthusiasm. Analysts suggested that “increased food prices…offer prairie farmers a more optimistic future for the first time in several decades” (Mason 2009:4), and proselytized that the “return to profitability” marked a “pivotal juncture” in Canadian agriculture (Sparling and Uzea 2012:5). Although farmers would still need to extract efficiencies, harness economies of scale, innovate, and meet evolving consumer demands (including those for local and organic food) (Mason 2009), change was finally in the air. Canola, one of the prairies’ leading crop exports, was pronounced the seed of “the other oil boom” (Pitts 2011) and agriculture the seat of a new  53 group of potential “soil tycoons” (Lappano 2009). Farmers, meanwhile, cautiously reserved judgement, waiting to see if the good times would last. Of course, it was not just right-leaning political parties and analysts who saw opportunities in rising agricultural commodity prices, but also investors. Indeed, the prairie farming sector became something of a hotspot for global investment in the mid-to-late 2000s, part of the larger trend towards agro-food system financialization discussed in Chapter 1. Investment managers touted the many benefits of the region, emphasizing the large quantity and high quality of farmland, its strong processing infrastructure, its favourable location relative to regional markets, and the stable political climate (Sommerville and Magnan 2015). Saskatchewan farmland drew particular attention, appearing in international indices (Figure 2.3) given its low-cost relative to neighboring provinces and states, a hangover from the earlier provincial restrictions around land ownership discussed above.  The diverse investment configurations that emerged in the prairies in the mid-2000s involved both farmland ownership and participation in agricultural production. At one end of the spectrum lie variations on what Fairbairn (2014) calls the ‘own-lease out’ model, wherein investors acquire a diversified portfolio of farmland and lease it to tenant farmers on anticipation of rental payments and capital gains through land appreciation. ‘Own-lease out’ investors are not typically involved in farming their amassed land, although some do exercise extensive oversight with their tenants (see Sommerville and Magnan 2015). In the prairies, practitioners of this model include a set of private equity farmland investment funds as well as certain wealthy individuals (Sommerville and Magnan 2015; Desmarais et al 2015). Regardless of the source of the underlying capital, ‘own-lease out’ configurations are typically considered lower risk investment ventures since farmland values in the provinces have historically been more stable  54 than have commodity prices and are less influenced by production factors such as weather and pests.    Figure 2.3: Saskatchewan, Canada Appears in Knight Frank Farmland Index  (Source: Knight Frank 2011)  At the other end of the investment spectrum are configurations that are actively involved in farming the land that they acquire. These investment models are similar to those that Fairbairn  55 (2014) calls ‘own-operate’ except that, in keeping with the structural specificity of prairie farming described above, the farms in question often rely on a blend of owned and leased land. As such, I will call them ‘access-operate’ configurations.27 By establishing very large farms often spanning multiple geographic locations, ‘access-operate’ investors aim to profit from high volume commodity production, appreciation on any portion of the land they own, and/or capital gains on the eventual sale of their business as a ‘going concern’. OEF, which was one such practitioner among several operating in the prairies, differed from the others by focusing almost exclusively on land leased from First Nations. ‘Access-operate’ models are typically considered higher risk investments than the aforementioned ‘own-lease out’ ventures because investors have greater exposure to commodity prices and production risks (although many undertake large scale operations on a geographically diversified land base in an attempt to mitigate the latter).  The appearance of these “pinstripes on the prairies” (Waldie and Leeder 2010) sparked intense debate within the prairie sector. Farmers expressed concern that they would find themselves ‘landlocked’ or priced out of expansion by firms with better access to capital and sometimes tax advantages. Farmland prices began to rise very rapidly – ultimately appreciating by 178 per cent in Saskatchewan, and 112 per cent in Alberta between 2006 and 2014 – which many blamed at least in part on investor activity in farmland markets.28 There was particular                                                27 Although admittedly imperfect, the term ‘access-operate’ is clearer than the obvious alternatives, i.e. ‘lease/own-operate’ or ‘own/lease-operate’. In choosing this term, I am drawing on the work of Ribot and Peluso (2003:153), who define access as “the ability to benefit from things – including material objects, persons, institutions and symbols”. 28 Without any claim to show direct causality, Magnan and Sunley (2017) have documented that “investors, on average, paid substantially more [for prairie farmland] than other ‘arms-length buyers’ in most years” (where ‘arms-length’ transactions exclude intra-family sales). The authors suggest several possible explanations for this phenomenon, including that investors are “more discerning…and [are] therefore [purchasing] higher quality land”, that they are “willing to pay more for farmland in order to capitalize on what is [perceived to be] a time-limited opportunity”, and/or that investment managers may face pressure from investors to deploy the capital they have raised in a timely manner (Magnan and Sunley 2017:100).  56 concern around the presence of foreign and especially Chinese investors, who some suggested were finding creative ways around the remaining provincial farmland ownership restrictions.29 At the same time, the ambivalent effects of rising farmland prices for producers collectively muted formal opposition to the phenomenon. For example, the Agricultural Producers’ Association of Saskatchewan, the major farm lobby group in the province, long refrained from speaking out against farmland investors given that their membership includes both older farmers whose desire to exit farming means they benefit from a bustling, high priced farmland market and younger producers who are challenged by such development (Interview 30, 30 July 2014). With respect to ‘access-operate’ investors, farmers were concerned that these models would retract leased land that was central to the viability of family farming operations, and that the ability of the resulting mega-farms to negotiate preferred rates on farm inputs and outputs would undercut the competitiveness of family operations. Prairie producers’ concerns were doubtless amplified by a further slide in state supports to farming, which by 2014-6 had fallen to 9 per cent of gross farm receipts (OECD 2017).30 In turn, skyrocketing land prices and growing input costs drove up farm debt for Alberta and Saskatchewan, which increased to CAD 34.8 million by 2016. In contrast to the concerns raised by many farmers, investment managers framed their activities as beneficial to the sector, in an attempt to curry favour with government officials, prospective tenants, the general public, and eager investors. Managers suggested that they                                                29 Although at least one firm attempted to coordinate farmland purchases on behalf of investors from the Chinese-Canadian diaspora (see Sommerville and Magnan 2015), most informed observers acknowledge that that foreign investment comprises an “infinitesimally small” portion of recent acquisitions of Saskatchewan farmland (Interview 30, 30 July 2014). Nonetheless, persistent public concern about this point eventually led the Farm Land Security Board, which enforces the Saskatchewan Farm Security Act, to appoint a special investigator to further research the source of the funds behind recent deals. 30 The largest component of Canada’s remaining supports to farming comprise market price supports in the supply-managed dairy, poultry and eggs sectors.  57 offered an alternative source of capital for an investment-hungry sector (Sommerville and Magnan 2015). ‘Own-lease out’ firms argued that they were a welcome land buyer for highly indebted farmers who needed to deleverage to reduce risk, as well as for late-career producers or farm descendants who were ready to dispose of their landholdings. These farmland investment vehicles presented themselves as responsible landlords who could help new farmers get started in farming and more established ones optimize their efficiency and achieve economies of scale. Through sale-lease back arrangements, managers claimed that their firms could facilitate intergenerational transfer and address the cash crunch that frequently accompanies farm succession (ibid.). ‘Access-operate’ investors, in turn, suggested that they would realize the same efficiency and scale-related gains that other farmers were trying to grasp, including by leasing land from the firms ‘own-lease out’ investment counterparts. They proposed that their presence would benefit the public by operationalizing a new model of farming that would address declining turnover in the sector, similarly helping to resolve the succession crisis (ibid.).  The emergence of these new models of investment in the prairie farming sector kicked off a burst of research by new and established scholars that has continued to unfold over the intervening years (see Sommerville 2018a for a comprehensive review). In one of the earliest pieces in this oeuvre, Magnan (2012:161) examined OEF alongside Wigmore Farms, a “vertically integrated, family based mega-farm”, arguing that the two vehicles represented “new avenues of corporatization for family farms and prairie agricultural development”.31  Together, he and I traced the investment strategies and business models of these and other investment vehicles, arguing (much as I have done above) that their emergence is both intimately tied to and                                                31 The latter operation’s land was eventually incorporated into one of the ‘own-lease out’ investment vehicles operating in the region (see Sommerville 2018a).  58 may also “reinforce and propel” pre-existing restructuring trends (Sommerville and Magnan 2015:138). Drawing on their large-scale analysis of land titles in Saskatchewan, Desmarais et al (2015) documented the growing rates in land concentration in select rural municipalities, identifying additional farmland investors and reflecting on their impacts vis-à-vis decreased community cohesion and vitality. In a subsequent paper, the authors showed that the amount of farmland owned by investors increased 16-fold between 2002 and 2014, which they linked to the province’s adoption of an ‘open for business’ model that deprioritized the wider range of social purposes that investment in farmland has traditionally served (Desmarais et al 2016).32 In addition to my own work comparative work in South Africa (see Chapters 4 and 5), Magnan (2015) explored investment patterns in the grain and oilseeds sector of Australia, finding considerably higher rates of overseas investment in Australian farmland, that Australian investment vehicles appear to have had more trouble raising capital, and that ‘own-operate’ arrangements are far more common than ‘own-lease out’ ones. Elsewhere, I have suggested that these and other pieces have begun to provide a “thickened local history of financialization” on the prairies, positioning recent agro-investments as “new shoots” whose “old roots” lie in shifting farming practices and patterns (Sommerville 2018a). Recognizing recent investments as involving processes of ‘local negotiation’ (cf Sippel et al 2017:253) provides a useful framework for examining OEF, which paired a Toronto-based investment firm with prairie First Nations to develop a large-scale corporate farm producing grain and oilseeds and beef cattle on First Nations’ land. Like other investors in the region, OEF was keen to convey its operations as socially beneficial but, unlike the others, it linked such                                                32 For a related discussion of the potential public interest gains and losses of farmland investment, see Sommerville (2012).  59 operations explicitly to the reparative redress of First Nations’ historical marginalization within prairie agriculture. I turn to the colonial origins origins of this marginalization in the next section.    2.4 The Troubling History of First Nations Farming on the Prairies  The history of First Nations farming on the prairies stretches back to before the Numbered Treaties (1871-1921), a set of historical agreements between First Nations leaders and Queen Victoria, then the reigning monarch of Canada. The Crown viewed the treaties as land cession agreements granting First Nations only limited hunting and fishing rights on ‘surrendered’ lands. However, Indigenous oral histories and subsequent scholarship suggests that this is a highly biased and narrow reading of the Treaties, which First Nations rather understood as comprising a more equitable means of sharing land (see for example Venne 1997; Asch 2014). Together with the aforementioned Dominion Lands Act (1872), the treaties facilitated settlement of the prairies, allocating lands to First Nations through the reserve system. First Nations participants in OEF are signatories to three of these agreements: Treaty Four (1874), Treaty Six (1876) and Treaty Seven (1877). After 1876, First Nations lands and peoples were administered under the federal Indian Act. The Act places legal title to reserve lands with the Crown, which holds it for the use and benefit of a particular First Nation or group of First Nations. Although most First Nations and some factions within the Canadian state consider treaties to be nation-to-nation agreements, provincial governments have mediated some treaty terms since the 1930 Natural Resources  60 Transfer Agreement, which passed control over Crown lands and natural resources to provincial governments in Saskatchewan and Alberta.33  At the time of treaty negotiations, First Nations were suffering from widespread famine amid the collapse of plains bison populations. The federal government repeatedly denied First Nations food relief, in order to reduce administrative expenses for the region and encourage them to sign treaty agreements (Carter 1990; Daschuk 2013). Anticipating that treaties would facilitate their uptake of agriculture, First Nations negotiated for the inclusion of agricultural benefits provisions alongside the agreed land quantum (640 acres per family of five) in treaty texts. While some suggest that this conveys to First Nations a ‘treaty right to agriculture’ (Interview 28, 28 July 2014; VanRaes 2015), the federal government frustrated First Nations’ farming efforts in the decades that followed. There were widespread delays in surveying reserves, and First Nations often received poor quality farmland.34 Governmental policies around Aboriginal agriculture seemed to run at cross purposes. Some policies emphasized the uptake of farming as a convenient means of assimilation, usually with the underlying objective of reducing First Nations’ reliance on government funds. Other policies actively constrained First Nations agriculture to preserve a competitive advantage for white settlers (see Carter 1990 for a detailed review). A series of instructional Home Farms (1879-84) established near reserves proved insufficient to support even the instructors sent to run them (ibid.). A network of Industrial Schools (from 1883, later consolidated with the Residential School system) were intended to provide agricultural training, but instruction quickly degenerated to ensure that First Nations                                                33 Unlike those in Eastern Canada, the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia were not given control over natural resources when they joined Confederation. This led to concerns that the provinces held second-class status and that regional priorities were being subordinated to national ones.  34 For example, those portions of the Little Black Bear First Nation and Star Blanket First Nation reserves that the surveyor had originally intended for haying soon proved too wet and swampy for such use (Carter 1990:114)  61 students “would remain in the lowest socio-economic class of farmhands (instead of farmers)” (Legacy of Hope Foundation, n.d.). The so-called ‘Peasant Farming Policy’ (1889-97) limited First Nations to using basic implements, prohibiting the labour-saving devices that were becoming widely used off-reserve (ibid.). Pass (1885-1941) and permit (1880-1960s) systems restricted First Nations’ travel and agricultural commerce without the permission of the area Indian Agent (Warden 1993; Williams 2016). Efforts to subdivide reserves into severable individual lots (late 1880s-early 1900s) eroded some reserves (Carter 1990). A ‘showpiece’ First Nations’ farming colony at the File Hills (1901-1955) dispossessed members of the Peepeekisis First Nation, whose reserve was used for the endeavour (Bednasek 2009). First Nations were also subject to all manner of forced surrenders and undercompensated sales of their reserve lands, whether due to sheer pressure from settlers, for road or other infrastructure projects, or for production during and soldier settlement following the First World War (Carter 1990; Vowel 2016).35 As Pasternak (2016) puts it, the Canadian settler state has a long history of  demanding ‘self-sufficiency’ from First Nations even as it dispossesses them of the lands and resources that could enable them to achieve this condition. Underpinning these policies were dominant perceptions of Indigenous peoples as a distinct and inferior race relative to white settlers. As Penrose (2003) has shown, ideas of nature and culture figured prominently in this assessment: First Nations were commonly portrayed as part of the very nature that settler farmers were to tame and exploit. Indigenous ontologies of                                                35 For example, in 1908 Thunderchild First Nation lost its high quality reserve lands after lobbying by settlers who desired access to the recently completed Canadian National Railway (1903), which passed through the reserve. The new lands eventually surveyed for the band some 100 km north were rocky, rugged, and had a shorter growing season (ICC 2004:3-6). In turn, Ochapowace First Nation saw its reserve lands commandeered for the Greater Production Campaign, which grew crops for the war effort (Carter 1999). In 1919, the band lost 18,240 acres to the Soldier Settlement Board, which granted the land to non-Indigenous veterans (Carter 1990:252).  62 nature were believed to make First Nations resistant to farming, even as they also modelled an ecologically attuned agriculture that settlers could usefully emulate (Carter 1990). First Nations were perceived as biologically ‘uneconomical’: as indolent, improvident and lacking the natural impulse, mental attitude, and cultural values necessary to find meaning in hard work and the accumulation of property, money, and a margin of surplus (ibid.). Farming was seen as a civilizing enterprise, which would nurture industry and diligence, and eventually lift First Nations above primitive, pre-capitalist ways into economic rationality. Heavy emphasis was placed on independence achieved through individual rather than collective farms, supposedly to dissuade First Nations from their ‘tribal’ and ‘communistic’ ways (Carter 1990). Whether First Nations struggled or succeeded at agriculture, in turn, was read as arbitration on the intransigence of their essential character.  Of course, as Carter (1990:13) has pointed out, such analyses “ignored or seriously downplayed the economic, legal, social and climatic factors” affecting reserve farmers, whose experiences of “the same adversities and misfortunes as their white neighbours [were] aggravate[d] rather than ameliorate[d]” by the aforementioned federal policies. The result was First Nations’ marginalization in the prairies’ growing commercial agriculture economy. Unlike in South Africa, my second research site, First Nations were not historically an important source of labour for prairie farms, with one exception. This regards their employment in the Southern Alberta sugar beet industry, beginning in the 1950s when the industry experienced a severe labour shortage (Laliberte and Satzewich 1996; Laliberte 2006). The Aboriginal labour force peaked at some 3000 workers in 1966, most of who came from Northern reserves and communities (Laliberte 2006). Their employment was facilitated by the then Indian Affairs Branch of the federal government through paternalistic and coercive measures, including the  63 withholding of social assistance from those deemed employable (Laliberte and Satzewich 1996). In addition to the paltry wages paid and squalid housing conditions provided by sugar beet farmers, the use of child labour from First Nations communities sparked major controversy by 1969 (Laliberte 2006). Although the sector gradually mechanized and diversified its labour base to include Mexican Mennonites, in 2004 a significant proportion of the labour in the sector was still First Nations from Northern communities (ibid.).  Indigenous peoples were not passive victims of governmental policies during this period, rather mounting regular protests against what many regarded as the denial of treaty rights. Although most of the government’s most regressive policies were removed after the end of Second World War, new assimilation pressures emerged, culminating in the 1969 White Paper calling to rescind the Indian Act under then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. Widespread opposition to this proposal among First Nations rather reconfirmed the ultimate importance of the treaty relationship between First Nations people and the federal government (see for example the ‘Red Paper’ submitted by the Indian Chiefs of Alberta in 1970, and Crane Bear 2015). First Nations’ opposition also helped to fuel successful land claims cases against the Crown. In 1973, the federal government established the Specific Claims process (described in detail in the next section) to address grievances relating to the fulfillment of historic treaties.  First Nations’ stubborn persistence at farming was also evident in certain programs established by Indigenous leaders to assist First Nations agriculturalists. The largest of these was the Saskatchewan Indian Agriculture Program (SIAP), created by the then Federation of Saskatchewan Indians (now the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations) in 1972 and funded by INAC together with the provincial government after 1975. SIAP aimed to “create viable farm units” on First Nations reserves and to “strengthen the self-reliance of Indian people” (Thomas  64 1993:106). The program funded the breaking of the land and the establishment of infrastructure such as dugouts, fences, and corrals for livestock. It trained farmers with respect to bookkeeping and farm management through a network of extension agents in provincial agriculture offices. SIAP also helped First Nations farmers access agricultural loans, including by setting up the Saskatchewan Indian Loan Company in 1986.36 The program was one of the first “bottom up” economic development programs in Saskatchewan, developed with extensive input from reserve communities and agricultural operators (Williams 1993: Appendix E). An evaluation in 1987 after 15 years of operations suggested that the program had increased the number of First Nations farming units from 40 to 600 and more than quadrupled the area of reserve lands under cultivation (Thomas 1993:108).37 Although SIAP supported both band (collective) and individual farms, there is some suggestion of a funding bias towards the latter in later years (see Saskatchewan Indian 1979). SIAP inspired parallel programs in neighboring provinces, including the Alberta Indian Agriculture Development Corporation, which later joined with SIAP and their Manitoba counterpart to form a venture capital company, InPro West Development Corporation, to fund larger scale agricultural projects on reserves.  Although Aboriginal and treaty rights were enshrined in Section 35 of Canada’s Constitution when it was repatriated from Britain in 1982, such rights remained undefined. As Cuthand (2018) puts it, First Nations were left to conclude that “what [they] had obtained was the right to go to Court”. The failure of the 1990 Meech Lake Accord, which sought to amend the Constitution, helped to propel the formation of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples                                                36 The Saskatchewan Indian Loan Company and InPro West Investments (referenced later in this paragraph) were amalgamated with the Saskatchewan Indian Equity Foundation in 2002. 37 SIAP also developed a wild rice industry in Saskatchewan’s north and later a processing facility and marketing company for that product.  65 (RCAP), an inquiry into challenges in the relationship between Aboriginal peoples and the Canadian state.38 The Commission’s final reports, issued in 1996, made some 440 recommendations, suggesting a need to expand the Aboriginal land and resource base, to establish new legislation that would both “affirm liberal rules of interpretation for historical treaties” and “provide for the implementation of existing treaty rights” (RCAP 1996:64), and to develop a renewed nation-to-nation relationship between Canada and Aboriginal peoples. Although officials from SIAP testified before the Commission and the RCAP’s sectoral report on agriculture urged further support for the program, a reorganization and downsizing of the federal government in 1993 (Thomas 1993, Coburn 2017) slashed the program’s budget, leading to its dissolution.    Coulthard (2014) has argued that the RCAP set the stage for the current phase of ‘reconciliation politics’ between First Nations and the Canadian state. In Canada, such politics converge with a somewhat older ‘politics of recognition’, which seek to both recognize and accommodate Indigenous claims around identity and cultural difference (Coulthard 2014:106). Under such politics the ‘reconciliation’ of “Indigenous assertions of nationhood with settler-state sovereignty” is undertaken through practices including “the delegation of land, capital and political power from the state to Indigenous communities through a combination of land claim settlements, economic development initiatives and self-government agreements” (ibid.:3). Recent years have seen several additional official reconciliation projects. Perhaps most prominent is the federal government’s formal apology, in June 2008, for Canada’s system of                                                38 The Meech Lake Accord was intended to secure Quebec’s symbolic endorsement of the repatriated Constitution after the province tried unsuccessfully to veto it. The Accord was filibustered by Elijah Harper, then a member of the Manitoba legislature and past Chief of the Red Sucker Lake First Nation (Treaty 5 adhesion). Harper was displeased that First Nations’ rights had been left undefined in the Constitution and that they had not been consulted on the Accord (Dickason and McNab 2009:396).    66 Residential Schools, which kicked off a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (2008-2015) around First Nations’ experiences therein.39 Yet Canada maintained its objector status with respect to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples until November 2010, and when the Conservative government eventually endorsed the Declaration, it was described as an ‘aspirational document’ that was not legally binding (CBC 2010). The substance of the government’s commitment to reconciliation and indeed its understanding of Canada’s history and the nation’s conditions of possibility was drawn further into question when, at a meeting of the G20 in September 2009, then Prime Minister Steven Harper’s asserted that Canada had “no history of colonialism” (O’Keefe 2009).40  The conjoined politics of recognition and reconciliation that pertain in Canada have been the subject of extensive scholarly critique. Scholars argue that such politics reaffirm the sovereignty and power of a state that (contra Harper) remains both explicitly colonial and racist (Coulthard 2014; Simpson 2014; Daigle 2016; Pasternak 2017). For some theorists, such politics may work to conceptually and legally reduce First Nations to racialized minorities (as opposed to colonized peoples) whose status depends on the state to mete out recognition to them as just one among other minority groups (Simpson 2014). Such relation then compromises the emancipatory potential of the land claims settlements and state support for economic development projects that First Nations obtain, and that firms like OEF centralize in their operations. Official reconciliation projects can similarly work to fold Aboriginal assertions of rights to land and nationhood into the                                                39 Canada’s Indian Residential Schools were a network of boarding schools for Indigenous children funded by INAC and administered by Christian churches. Residential schools operated from 1884 until 1996. For the reports of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, see: http://www.trc.ca/websites/trcinstitution/index.php?p=905.  40 Canada was one of four objectors to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), citing concerns that the Declaration’s inclusion of the concept of ‘free, prior, and informed consent’ would give Indigenous peoples veto power with regards to development on their ancestral lands. The Liberal government subsequently removed all qualifications in May 2016, and as of mid-2018 claimed to be proceeding with integrating the Declaration into law.    67 “existing political, economic, and juridical structures of the nation state” (Bhandar 2004:831; see also Egan 2011; Turner 2011; Coulthard 2014). At issue is the attempt to pitch reconciliation – a concept that Coulthard (2014:106) points out was initially developed in settings like South Africa, my second dissertation research site – as appropriate for Canada. While South Africa underwent a formal ‘transition’ from authoritative to democratic rule, no clear or formal transition has occurred in Canada, an “ostensibly tolerant, multinational” and relatively stable liberal democracy (Coulthard 2014:15). Coulthard suggests that this requires the “ideologica[l] manufacture [of] such a transition by allocating the abuses of settler colonization to the dustbins of history, and/or purposely disentangling notions of reconciliation from questions of settler coloniality as such” (ibid.:108). Although as I will go on to explore in Chapter 4, there are many questions that can be asked about whether South Africa’s transition has achieved (or is achieving) a decolonial remit, this does not dull the critique of reconciliation that Coulthard and other scholars advance.  While the recognition and reconciliation politics at work in Canada at OEF’s founding thus appear to have had limited purchase for First Nations, they nonetheless played an important role in the evolution of the business venture. As I will go on to explore in Chapter 4, OEF’s parent company Sprott Resource Corporation (SRC) mobilized a kind of ‘reconciliatory goodwill’ to secure support from First Nations, government officials, and agribusiness investors for the business. While these supports had numerous dimensions, foremost amongst them was access to OEF’s most basic material necessity: large areas of farmland.   68 2.5 ‘The Land is Everything’ Though Canada’s Specific Claims process addresses treaty rights beyond those related to lands, land-related claims hold a special resonance and importance for prairie First Nations. This is clearly communicated by the title of a recent publication by the Office of the Treaty Commissioner (OTC 2014) from which this chapter section takes its name. Canada’s policy around Specific Claims involving land has undergone several rounds of refinement and modification since its establishment in 1973 as a negotiations-centred alternative to litigation in the Courts. What has remained constant is its reliance on a willing-buyer/willing-seller model, and its rejection of private land expropriation, with or without compensation. INAC’s current policy statement on the matter is that:  “Canada's policy on specific claims protects the current ownership and rights of private land owners. Private property is not taken away from anyone to settle specific claims. Nor is anyone asked to sell their land unwillingly.” (INAC 2010) First Nations that lodge successful claims with INAC under the policy are granted cash settlements to acquire land on the open market and may also be transferred provincial Crown land. Excepting in the latter instances, land acquisition is thus relatively unmediated by the state. This said, in the case of substantial settlements, the federal and provincial governments can set conditions around how settlement funds are managed and invested by First Nations (as they did in the case of Treaty Land Entitlement settlements, discussed below).  First Nations have long been concerned about the Crown’s independence in the Specific Claims process. In 1991, this led to the creation of the Indian Specific Claims Commission (ISCC), an alternative to the courts for First Nations whose claims had been rejected by Canada. The ISCC provided mediation to facilitate settlement agreements and made non-binding  69 recommendations on the validity of rejected claims and compensation criteria. In 2008, a major reform of the Specific Claims policy both set out the current four stage process (Figure 2.4) and replaced the ISCC with the Specific Claims Tribunal (SCT), an independent body of provincial superior court judges. Unlike its predecessor, the SCT can make binding decisions on the validity and compensation of claims.41 In addition to strengthening the independence of the claims process, the SCT was intended to help address a huge backlog of claims and long delays in the resolution process. INAC data suggests that by 2007 more than 800 specific claims were outstanding in Canada, that it took an average of 13 years to resolve a Specific Claim, and that First Nations had submitted claims twice as fast as the Department had addressed them (OAG 2016). After several years of delays while the Tribunal readied its staff and offices, the SCT began accepting claims in June 2011.                                                41 In all cases, the decision to file a claim with the SCT rests with the First Nation (or First Nations) in question and is voluntary. The Tribunal can hear all varieties of specific claims, but cannot award land as compensation. Tribunal compensation is limited to a maximum of CAD 150 million per individual claim, and the tribunal cannot award punitive damages, compensation for cultural or spiritual losses, or non-financial compensation.  70  Figure 2.4: Canada’s Specific Claims Process  (Source: OAG 2009)  In Saskatchewan, a significant number of Specific Claims are so-called Treaty Land Entitlement (TLE) claims, which aim to rectify shortfalls in the original allocation of lands under  71 the Numbered Treaties due to fluctuations in band membership and undercounting in early censuses. Negotiations around a TLE process began in the 1960s but led to only a few settlements before First Nations reached a Framework Agreement with the provincial and federal governments in 1992 (see Hubbard and Poitras 2014 for a comprehensive overview of the TLE process). To date, 33 First Nations (including seven OEF participants) have signed this agreement, which commits them to using the monies obtained to purchase a certain number of acres of land – termed their ‘shortfall’ acres – which must then be converted to reserve status. Because TLE settlements were substantial, First Nations were required to establish trusts to administer the funds, although in most cases once acquired lands gain reserve status decision-making over them is passed to the Chief and Council.42 The Office of the Treaty Commissioner notes that the TLE Framework Agreement “became a watershed” in Saskatchewan, “a kind of living proof that the Treaties still meant something” (OTC 2014:5). Nevertheless, the implementation of the Framework and individual agreements has faced several challenges. Perhaps the most notable is the significant delay in obtaining reserve status for land selections, which impacts First Nations’ ability to pursue social and economic development opportunities and leads to significant expenditures on municipal taxes during the waiting period (see OAG 2005, 2009).43 Unlike Saskatchewan, the province of Alberta has not implemented a TLE Framework Agreement, and has rather negotiated with First Nations on a case-by-case basis.                                                 42 The TLE Framework Agreement specifies that First Nations must use their settlements to first achieve their land ‘shortfall’, with only a small portion of settlement monies eligible for diversion to other purposes until that point. First Nations can however use interest generated from their TLE funds, revenue from TLE lands, and any monies leftover after achieving shortfall at their own discretion, for example for economic development purposes. 43 A report by the federal Office of the Auditor General in 2005 attributed this challenge to deficiencies in INAC’s management of certain steps in the conversion process, including environmental reviews, surveys of the selected lands, and the resolution of third party interests including those pertaining to associated mineral and water rights and municipal taxation (OAG 2005). Although a follow up report in 2009 noted improvements, Saskatchewan’s conversion rate still hovered at only 62 per cent of selected lands, with 700 selections (comprising 451,000 acres) still awaiting reserve status (OAG 2009).  72 In addition to TLE settlements, prairie First Nations have pursued several other types of Specific Claims. These include claims for forced surrenders and improper compensation for such land takings. Another increasingly common type of claim is for the non-delivery of the agricultural benefits promised in the Numbered Treaties or for certain annuities promised therein.44 Still other types of claims include those for the historical mismanagement of First Nations’ funds or assets, which turn on the federal government’s continuing fiduciary obligation to First Nations. By the time that SRC executives were laying the groundwork for OEF in early 2008, the 15 First Nations that eventually joined the venture had filed a total of 42 distinct claims with INAC, settling 20 of these for a total of CAD 355.4 million. A further 20 claims remained under negotiation or litigation, with some awaiting lodgment with the SCT (which had not yet begun accepting claims). Moreover, several First Nations had settlement monies that they had yet to spend, and most had claims that they had yet to file. In other words, Specific Claims remain a live issue and given settlement delays and unfiled claims will certainly continue to unfold in years to come.  This said, where settlements have been obtained under TLE and other Specific Claims, these have significantly boosted the rural landholdings of prairie First Nations. For some First Nations, this reflects an interest in deepening their participation in farming and the agriculture sector more generally. In 2002 former FSIN Chief and White Bear First Nation (Treaty Four) member Guy Lonechild suggested that First Nations are “counting on agriculture to create wealth and opportunities” for their members (quoted in Pratt 2002). For some Nations, like the                                                44 In 2009, Nekaneet First Nation, a signatory to Treaty Four, received a CAD 9.8 million settlement for the non-provision of agricultural benefits. That same year, Enoch Cree Nation and the Kainai Nation, both signatories to Treaty Six and later participants in OEF, filed similar claims. Although INAC refused Enoch’s claim, it was continuing to negotiate with the Kainai as of 15 March 2018.  73 Kainai Nation (Treaty Seven) in Alberta, agriculture is preferred over other types of resource development such as oil and gas since it is seen as renewable and capable of providing longer-term socioeconomic benefits (Duckworth 2008). But there are also other motivations and factors contributing to First Nations’ agricultural acquisitions. The prairie provinces being largely rural in their make-up, farmland is frequently what is abundant on local land markets. In some cases, First Nations have sought to acquire sites of historic and ceremonial importance that had been converted to agricultural use during their alienation from the bands. Perhaps the most significant factor is the requirement in the Saskatchewan TLE Framework Agreement that First Nations acquire a minimum number of acres (their ‘shortfall’) within a limited funding cap, which biased many Nations towards rural acquisitions over comparatively more costly urban lands (although some Nations, including Starblanket Cree Nation, also acquired urban parcels, as discussed in the introduction to this chapter).  This points to a larger issue: the potentially complex entanglements of the land claims process with the dynamics of rural land markets. This is a matter which has yet received very little attention from academics or other analysts. As mentioned earlier in this chapter, farmland values have accelerated very rapidly over the past decade. This presents an obstacle for First Nations trying to acquire land with limited cash settlements. For example, the Saskatchewan TLE Framework Agreement established a settlement of CAD 262.19 per acre (the average price per acre of unimproved farmland in 1989) multiplied by a certain ‘equity quantum’ accounting for the First Nations’ population at first survey, its ‘current’ population at 31 March 1999, and the land already set aside in reserves (INAC n.d.). But in the mid-2010s, when many Nations were still trying to meet their required land ‘shortfall’, farmland was worth many times this. As but one example, a staff person from Yellow Quill First Nation suggested that by 2014, farmland  74 in the vicinity of that community was going for CAD 1500 to 2200 per acre (Interview 24, 22 July 2014), or roughly six to eight times what had been allotted in Yellow Quill’s TLE settlement.  Another interesting question regards whether First Nations encounter a race-neutral land market. Although land claims-related acquisitions comprise a relatively small component of overall land transactions in the prairie provinces in any given year (meaning that they are unlikely to have been a significant contributor to the recent run-up in land prices), anecdotal evidence suggests that some First Nations see a race-related premium applied to their land purchases. For example, a TLE trustee from Little Pine First Nation (Treaty Six) told me that his First Nation usually stays in the background during land purchases, rather deploying a white agrologist to negotiate on their behalf. This arrangement came about after the trustees took the Nation’s Chief with them to negotiate an early acquisition, and she “smiled at the wrong moment” (indicating her approval of the parcel). The farmer then fixed an inflated price for the property, leading trustees to tease the Chief thereafter about her “[CAD] 10,000 smile” (Interview 6, 18 December 2010). A representative from Thunderchild First Nation (Treaty Six), meanwhile, suggested that private landowners had “squeezed” the Nation out of prospective purchases when it was looking to expand its landholdings at reasonable cost and distance from the Nation’s ‘home’ reserve (i.e. that granted under the Nation’s original treaty; Interview 21, 17 July 2014). As I will explore in the next chapter, such dynamics also extend to the market for renting First Nations land and were leveraged by OEF to gain access to reserve lands.   Land values are not the only challenge confronting First Nations in agriculture. Rather, First Nations’ farming continues to be constrained by a set of structural barriers that differentially expose them to the vagaries of prairie weather and the increasingly globalized  75 agricultural commodity markets that developed through the 1990s and early 2000s. Among the most significant of these barriers is the difficulty First Nations face in accessing credit, mainly due to the collective, inalienable form of land tenure that pertains on the majority of reserves. First Nations are able to access loans through a set of Aboriginal Capital Corporations (ACCs) – including the Saskatchewan Indian Equity Foundation, the Alberta Indian Investment Corporation and the Indian Business Corporation (Alberta). The ACCs are more accustomed to working with alternative forms of security on First Nations’ reserves (such as Band Council Resolutions pledging gaming or other revenues in the case of default).45 But as developmental lenders, these organizations charge considerably higher interest rates than do mainstream banks: in 2011, when the central bank rate was in the range of 1 per cent, the average interest rate across ACCs hovered near 9 per cent (NACCA 2011:27). Compounding this problem is the fact that many First Nations agriculturalists have difficulty accessing government supports for farming, whether to stabilize incomes, for crop insurance, or for disaster payments. Denys Arcand (cited in Pratt 2001), a farmer from Muskeg Lake Cree Nation (Treaty Six) suggested that in the early 1990s, farmers on his reserve had to undertake “9 years of phone calls” culminating in a threat to sue the federal government, before the Nation was granted access to income stabilization programs. Nonetheless, the problem recurred in the next generation of agricultural programs, apparently due to administrative hurdles created by First Nations’ exemption from filing tax                                                45 Formed in the late 1980s with the objective of lending to small and medium-sized Aboriginal enterprises, Aboriginal Capital Corporations (ACCs) are a set of autonomous, First Nations-controlled financial institutions that received seed capital under 12-year contribution agreements from the federal government. Although they were intended to be self-sufficient, by 2011, ACCs were losing money due principally to higher than anticipated administrative expenses (see NACCA 2011:27). ACCs were also fighting the federal government after INAC introduced the Loan Loss Reserve Initiative, a pilot project running from 2008-10 that distributed CAD 15.5 million to six mainstream banks and credit unions for use as collateral to finance loans to First Nations businesses. The ACCs argued that the loan guarantees amounted to discrimination since they ensured that the mainstream banks could lend at lower interest rates than could ACCs (see TWCC 2010). After an independent evaluation found the banks had only leant a small fraction of the capital by the end of the pilot, the Loan Loss program was not renewed.  76 returns on which program assessments are based (Pratt 2006; Duckworth 2008). Moreover, even when they have been able to obtain support payments, First Nations farmers, whose operations are on average smaller than those of their settler counterparts, experience indirect discrimination due to the bias in government programs towards larger farms (Interview 28, 28 July 2014). Compounding the problem still further is the run-up in input costs over the decades. One interview participant suggested that First Nations had made out well in the years of high soil fertility that followed the clearing of their lands, but once that wore off, they “just couldn’t afford to put a drop [of agrochemicals] in” (Interview 28, 24 July 2014). These barriers mean that First Nations are disproportionately impacted by the financial risks inherent in prairie farming. Where collective (band) and individual farms persist, many struggle with economic viability. Important exceptions do exist. One of these is the Blood Tribe Agriculture Project (Treaty Seven), a diversified operation established in 1991 which by 2009 included both irrigated (18,000 acres) and dryland (240,000 acres) crop production, pasture land (125,000 acres), a beef herd and feedlot, a grain handling and storage facility, a wash and pack plant for seed potatoes, and a timothy hay plant exporting product to Pacific Rim countries (Interview 34, 1 August 2014). That same year, Ochapowace First Nation (Treaty Four) started a new band farm, initially hiring custom contractors to seed and combine their land while the Nation gradually purchased equipment to take over operations itself (Interview 29, 28 July 2014). Nonetheless, on many reserves, the absence of successful local mentors dissuades Indigenous youth from pursuing agricultural schooling and careers. In 2006 the University of Saskatchewan’s then Dean of Agriculture indicated that only 2 per cent of the College’s undergraduate students were aboriginal (Pratt 2006). Without a family background in farming, potential new entrants lack the equity necessary to acquire costly machinery (Interview 27, 23  77 July 2014). Deskilling then makes it still more difficult to enter the industry – as one respondent put it, “where do you put a greenhorn on a [CAD] 250,000 piece of equipment?” (ibid.). These disadvantages offset the two main features that Indigenous farmers could turn to their advantage: the fact that most First Nations’ land is owned outright, and the aforementioned lack of income tax on reserve agricultural activities (Briere 2006). Overall, the cumulative result is a low participation rate in farming. Indeed in 2002, a provincial assessment calculated that First Nations in Saskatchewan farmed only 20 per cent of their arable reserve lands, leasing the remaining 80 per cent to neighboring (settler) farmers (Pratt 2004). I heard of at least one case where a First Nation’s tenants included the previous owners of the land under a ‘sale-leaseback’ arrangement similar to that deployed by some of the new wave of farmland of farmland investors (Interview 21, 17 July 2014), and some First Nations said they were generally happy with their tenants. Others noted continuing racial tensions in rural areas, which some felt resulted in the undervaluation and mistreatment of their land.  In Saskatchewan, First Nations leaders have worked to combat these dynamics and to expand First Nations’ farming on their growing reserve lands. In 2001, the FSIN established an agricultural task force which by 2005 had evolved into the First Nations Agriculture Council of Saskatchewan (FNACS). FNACS’ planning exercises foresaw an agricultural industr