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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Forest management and conservation governance in relation to Indigenous food sovereignty with the Líl̓wat First Nation in British Columbia, Canada Smith, Tonya


Indigenous Food Sovereignty (IFS) involves the sacred responsibilities and relationships of Indigenous Nations and communities, including urban communities, with their food systems. IFS relies on Indigenous Peoples’ ability to restore and maintain relationships with culturally desirable foods, ensuring the sustainability of their food systems. The ability of Indigenous Peoples to experience food sovereignty continues to be adversely impacted by statutory laws and policies in the nation states whose land grabs enclose customary and traditional territories. In this dissertation, I show how government regulations and forestry, protected areas, and ecosystem services programming in British Columbia (BC), Canada impact the Líl̓wat First Nation’s processes to recover food sovereignty. This dissertation draws on ethnographic fieldwork with the Líl̓wat First Nation between 2015-2020. Firstly, I summarize some of the food-based practices and experiences of Líl̓wat Nation that constitute the foundation of Líl̓wat food sovereignty. Secondly, I analyse the impacts of payments for ecosystem services (PES) programs on Indigenous Peoples and local communities as ecosystem services providers, finding that PES programs run the risk of reifying Indigenous knowledges to fit into ecosystem services approaches, legitimizing settler colonial jurisdiction over Indigenous peoples’ territories. Thirdly, I assess the BC Government’s changes to forest policy since 2003 that have created both new opportunities, as well as constraints, for Líl̓wat Nation. Fourthly, I present ethnographic evidence to show how recreational tourism creates challenges for Indigenous food sovereignty through impacting both food sources and food practices. I find that the continuing erasure of Líl̓wat ontologies by conservationist land managers constitutes ‘slow violence’. Indigenous peoples’ community spaces are critical fora for deliberating on and creating desired food futures that include Indigenous food sovereignty. This dissertation finds that settler government policies and inaction towards safeguarding food provisioning landscapes, including so-called ‘Crown forests’ and protected areas, impede the ability of Indigenous peoples to realize food sovereignty in these spaces, unhindered by settler colonial violence.

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