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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Children, caring, and contemporary environmental politics on the Peace River Dumoulin, Lisa


This thesis concerns the place of children within the contemporary politics of environmental change on the Peace River in northeastern British Columbia. Significant environmental controversies exist over the past and possible future hydroelectric development of the river and while children are not central to these, they have to come to be involved through various forms of outreach and education. I consider school units on the proposed ‘Site C Clean Energy Project’ and a regional stewardship education program in which children learn about and rear kokanee salmon, a material legacy of existing hydroelectric development on the Peace River. Specifically, I ask how and why children have come to figure within the contemporary environmental politics of the Peace. Drawing on theoretical and methodological scholarship in Children’s Geographies and Political Ecology, I lend close attention to the content, context, and ‘feelings’ of these cases. I argue that whether children have been enrolled intentionally or inadvertently, notions of care and responsibility frame their enrollment as part of environmental controversies on the Peace in both educational contexts. This thesis attests to the importance and interesting results of attending to children with relation to environmental politics. Echoing the students and teachers involved in the research, it draws attention to the importance of caring for children as young people relative to large-scale environmental change, while also encouraging attention to the potential implications of doing so, particularly in a (post)colonial context of environmental change. As a whole, this thesis contributes to recent political ecological scholarship that complicates questions of where environmental politics take place, and expands upon who and what are considered relevant to environmental politics. Its primary contribution is in its analysis of the two cases, and as it may encourage further consideration of the complexities of contemporary controversies of environmental change on the Peace River.

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