Spring 2022 - INDG 433 D100

Indigenous Environmental Justice and Activism (4)

Class Number: 6016

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu, Th 12:30 PM – 2:20 PM

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units.



Examines contemporary writings regarding Indigenous environmental logic and environmental concerns of contemporary times. Studies effects of resource extraction upon Indigenous nations, globalization, genetic modifications, health, intellectual property, spiritual beliefs, culture and society, art and language and compares these with specific Indigenous logic at the time of contact. Students with credit for FNST 433 may not take this course for further credit.


INDG 433-4 Indigenous Environmental Justice and Activism Seminar
. Examines various aesthetic/intellectual expressions of Indigenous peoples which express Indigenous environmental theories, practices, philosophy, protocols, and activism. Looks at contemporary writings, testimonio, various media, practices, oral traditions, ethnographic accounts, art, writings, gatherings, and that reflects indigenous environmental theory and practice regarding Indigenous Relationships, bioregionalism, Responsibilities, and Home/Land.

Of concern are long-term un-remediable effects via massive resource extractions and state-sponsored violences, modern globalization, non-human relatives, genetic modifications, health, food security and food sovereignty, climate disruptions, the Rights of Mother Earth, Rivers, Land and all Living Beings. Of principal concern is the concept of Justice, Responsibilities (Rights), and inter-species dependence/biodiversity, Land and Treaty Rights, especially regarding Indigenous individuals, communities, Nations, and all living Beings, within Indigenous understanding of ‘we are all related'.

Details: Justice remains elusive for many of the world’s Indigenous peoples, including Canada, as erosion of inherent and enshrined responsibilities/rights and title are hand-in-glove with massive resource destructions. We will examine specific activisms, Land defense, state-sponsored and extra judicial violence, in a historical context, and contemplate our shifting societal paradigms.

The class is made up of lectures, readings, detailed informed in-class discussions and presentations, weekly written reflections, and community engagement and building within and outside of the classroom community. Registration in this course is your commitment to attend all classes and perform all work to your highest standards.


To recognize and understand Responsibilities to Home/Land/Place and her many Beings as a philosophy, method, and vehicle towards understanding the roots of and path to elusive social and environmental justice, the further actualization of tenuous human rights, and the rights of all Beings and HomeLands to thrive.

In this course with a hemispheric Indigenous focus, Students will:

i. Practice deep reading, deep thinking, deep listening, introspection
ii. Develop excellent communication skills
iii. Place themselves within the global paradigm and conversation regarding individual and community Responsibilities to Land and her Beings
iv. Contemplate the meaning of a specific vocabulary terms such as genocide, reconciliation, ecocide, colonial impositions
v. Create as a group, a working vocabulary for Environmnetal Justice and Activism in our lives
vi. Discuss violence and lawlessness at the international, national, state, local, and domestic level
vii. Learn Indigenous Nation-specific protocols, values, and elusive path to fulfillment of basic human and non-human rights
viii. Discuss Indigenous Nation-centric concepts of relationship, responsibilities (rights), and an Indigenous bioregionalism as defined by community and HomeLand
ix. Understand Indigenous Nation-centric traditional and contemporary laws, priveledges, histories, realities, rooted in HomeLand Place, and subject to the many waves of colonialism and its others
x. Respond appropriately (using respectful communication), as a student/researcher/community member
xi. Practice and learn group discussion methods, speaking clearly in a succinct manner, with equal time for all student participants
xii. Welcome, support, and discuss difficult topics factually, within a diverse set of various differing points-of-view, where we may, can, and do disagree
xiii. See Nation-centric concepts of the researchers' responsibility to Indigenous community
xiv. Review diverse methods and testimonio/y products from and within Indigenous communities
xv. interview others and record interviews (depending upon pandemic rules); and other outcomes as they evolve through community coursework, agreed to by consensus of the group.

It is hoped students will be exposed to a life-long understanding of justice work in Indigenous communities, and where appropriate, begin their journey within the practice. Students may interact with community individuals and networks to address a research topic and deliverable of the communitys’ choice, as reached by community and student consensus.




: weekly discussion and active participation (2 points per week for thirteen weeks) 2 = smart, thoughtful comments based on readings and other class information and content; Sharing time equally; encouraging shy people to speak; ability to disagree in a diplomatic and helpful manner.
39%: weekly readings and written critical analysis posted on canvas discussion board (3 points per week for thirteen weeks) 3 = excellent analysis and thoughtful introspection; 2 = good analysis and introspection; 2 = poor; 1 = incomplete work; 0 = try again please
5%: Midterm Presentation: full attendance and discussion (term project description and analysis)
5%: Final Presentation: full attendance and discussion
13%: compiled vocabulary list with other students weekly (1 point per week) Contribution to the Testimonio-based vocabulary list in a thoughtful and careful manner
12%: Term Research Project: follow a specific Indigenous environmental justice issue. Collect an article, three testimonials, one commentary, your observations. How is this issue presented in mainstream media? How would the average person learn of this, locally, nationally, or globally? Is this issue in the public awareness? Are the attendant issues regarding responsibilities, rights, title, a part of any story available readily? We shall discuss types of questions for your project in-class.

: Three absences result in a lowering of the course mark by one full grade (example, an A with three absences becomes a B). For on-line classes, attendance means we can see one another via camera for the entire session.

***Please note, to accommodate the complexities inherent in life, this syllabus is subject to modification at any time in order to meet student needs, interests, as well as evolving Rights issues. Students are responsible to remain informed at all times. We make changes within a consensus model. ***


Course Format: 1. Seminar format: interactive discussions based upon readings and student out-of-class work; interactive lectures when necessary to introduce topics, with call and response; conversations regarding background, context, inter-relatedness, historic and contemporary issues; rights, responsibilities; 2. Student presentations, discussions, analysis of readings, questions, comparative discussions of historic and current events; 3. Vocabulary, notes, supplemental information, others (weekly notebook, weekly discussion posts, creative component); 4. Midterm and Final compilations and presentations of weekly works and semester project.

Topics for Winter 2022 (may include but are not limited to):

week one: introduction, overview, vocabulary
week two: Sacred Water, Plant Parents, Food Security and Food Sovereignty
week three: Site C dam, Climate Disruptions and Environmental Refugees
week four: Land Defense, Rights, Title
week five: Potential Rights and Rights Action


week six: Questions as to Relief
week seven: Grassy Narrows, Mount Polley
week eight: Big Trees, Home
week nine: Speciesisms, Systemic Cruelty
week ten: Colonial Neoliberalism’s MMIWG, epidemic suicide
week eleven: lawless political expediencies
week twelve: Canadian Mining
week thirteen: FINAL



Readings TBA

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in spring 2022 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with safety plans in place.  Some courses will still be offered through remote methods, and if so, this will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the spring 2022 term.