"The STATE OF EXTRACTION and Active Resistance"

This issue really showcases the Institute’s public engagement mandate. Three of the contributions come from a conference we organized nearly two years ago: State of Extraction: Corporate Imperatives, Public Knowledge and Global Imperatives, which sought to bring together indigenous leadership, academics, artists, and public intellectuals from a variety of disciplines, activists engaged in various struggles related to resource extraction (including oil, gas, coal, and rare earth metals), representatives of affected communities from the global north and south, and the general public to examine the new face of resource capitalism in Canada and its influence on the world; the (lack of) public debate about such issues and the role of resource capitalism in structuring (and frustrating) such debate; as well as models of alternative economic and social development.

Our intention was to move through the full range of issues: from the economics and politics of extraction, through its varied social and ecological impacts, across the terrain of social struggle and public debate, to the various alternatives to fossil fuels and current mining practices. All these many strands were brought together through a series of presentations and roundtable discussions with leading thinkers, activists, community leaders, and public intellectuals, open public debate, and participatory workshops. Since the conference, attention to the extractivist agenda has only increased, most notably with the Liberal Government’s approval of the Kinder Morgan Pipeline without demonstrated evidence that the benefits would outweigh the risks nor, indeed, how the approval of this controversial pipeline project will enable the country to meet its Paris Climate Agreement target. There is, of course, also the on-going Indigenous-led resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock that has just been approved, along with Keystone, by newly-installed President Donald J. Trump. This latter move was, we should add, applauded by both the NDP Government of Rachel Notley and the Trudeau Liberals. This complicity with a deeply authoritarian and, some would argue, illegitimate regime may one day prove truly fateful.

The issue is kicked off by Rachel Ariss, of the Humanities Program at the Ontario Institute of Technology, which reflects upon the “duty consult” that has gained importance since the conference—insofar as the Liberal government of Justin Trudeau has signed on to the UNDRIP—in the legal case brought by the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug Territory against Plantinex. Jen Moore, of Vancouver-based Mining Watch, offers a review of the book Mining Capitalism: The Relationship between Corporations and Their Critics. Miquel Mirango, of Comprehensive Processes for Peoples’ Self-Governance (PIAP), engages in a critique of the “Extractive Mining Model” and offers strategies to actually confront it in practice. Finally, Judith Goldman a student at the Poetics Program at SUNY Buffalo offers a long poem entitled “Extracts.”

In this issue, we also proudly include the speeches presented by the recipients of two awards sponsored by the J.S. Woodworth Chair in the Humanities, namely, and the Thakore Visiting Scholar Award and the Grace MacInnis Visiting Scholar Award. In 2015, the Thakore Award was presented to Dr. Jennifer Simons, the founder of the Simons Foundation and dedicated philanthropist who has generously supported many academic programs at SFU and beyond—including the Institute for the Humanities—and, perhaps more importantly, has worked tirelessly in the cause of nuclear disarmament. Such a cause becomes only more urgent with the promise of a new nuclear arms race under Trump. In her talk, Dr. Simons draws important parallels between the campaign for nuclear disarmament and the importance of the struggle against climate change, beginning right here in our backyard with respect of Kinder Morgan. She praises the activists and the Burnaby Mountain Caretakers who put their bodies on the line and will no doubt be called to do so in the future. In the same year, the Grace MacInnis Award went to Libby Davies who reflects on her eighteen years in Parliament as the MP for Vancouver East.

Lastly, David Yorke, an original charter graduate of Simon Fraser University (BA majoring in Canadian history), provides and overview Ronald Liversedge’s memoir in which he tells the compelling story of a group of working class Canadians, known as the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion, who arrived in Spain in 1937 to fight on behalf of the duly elected Popular Front Government in what came to be known as the Spanish Civil War. The question of transnational affiliations and struggle obviously has a rather different resonance in our own epoch.

The State of Extraction

Individual Responsibility and Political Praxis