Summer 2023 - HIST 428 D100

Problems in the Social and Economic History of Canada (4)

Human and Environmental History of the Arctic

Class Number: 3244

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    We 9:30 AM – 12:20 PM
    WMC 2501, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units including nine units of lower division history. Recommended: HIST 101, 102W.



Selected problems in the history of Canadian agriculture and industrial development, migration and settlement, labor, native policy and class structure. Content may vary from offering to offering; see course outline for further information. HIST 428 may be repeated for credit only when a different topic is taught.


People, Polar Bears, Pipelines: A History of the Arctic

As global warming accelerates and polar ice melts, the Arctic is fast becoming a hot topic of conversation worldwide. Canada is a circumpolar country with sizable arctic territories, yet most people living in Canada have never been north of sixty. This course introduces students to the recent human and environmental history of the Canadian North, focusing principally on the Northwest Territories, the Yukon, and Nunavut. Inuit, Dene, Métis, and other Indigenous voices and perspectives will be foregrounded, but we’ll listen to and learn from historical non-Indigenous visitors, sojourners, and settlers as well.

We will examine key social themes and transformations in this region, including cross-cultural trade, Christianization, and modernization. We’ll learn how people have behaved toward and understood northern environments by studying different cultural traditions of renewable and non-renewable resource use, environmental knowledge, and adaptation to environmental change. We’ll analyze conflicting, even radically divergent accounts of events in Arctic history, told through various media. Finally, we’ll explore the multiple, often contradictory “ideas of North” that Indigenous and Euro-Canadian peoples have constructed over the last few centuries. We will critically reflect on our positionality as residents of southern Canada, and on the colonialism and white supremacy undergirding historical and contemporary representations of Canada as a northern nation.



  • Participation 15%
  • Oral history review 20%
  • Film review 20%
  • Reading journal, including final summative reflection 45%


*Course components and weightings are subject to change between now and the beginning of the summer semester. Please contact Dr Adcock for the most up-to-date information.



All texts will be made available on, or linked to from Canvas.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website 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.

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