Canadian Environmentalism: Canadians’ Changing Relationship to the Natural World
Wealth vs. resource exploitation, development vs. sustainability, wilderness and Aboriginal land claims vs. dams and species depletion. Using films, podcasts, and texts, we will explore these issues and many more as we probe the past 75 years of Canadian environmental history. Natural resources were keys to the nation’s wealth; the long-held belief was that their exploitation was necessary to achieve economic success. However, with the 1930s conservation message of Grey Owl (in reality, an Englishman posing as a Métis), protection of the natural world began. Following the Second World War, the baby-boom generation (and subsequently their own children) took bolder steps to defend the environment. They lived in an age of ecology and many wished to balance growth with environmental protection and sustainability. Canadians have sought to live affluently, yet define limits to growth so as to accord the environment more respect. They have dealt with wildlife depletion and overfishing, diminished water and air quality, the opening of new resource frontiers in the North, megaprojects that dammed or diverted rivers, and engaged in a debate over the Alberta oil sands project. In this seminar, we will take up the multifaceted period of Canadian environmentalism.