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From the Sacred to the Sacrificial Landscape: Reading and Resisting Settler-Canadian Environmental Discourse in M.T. Kelly’s A Dream Like Mine and the Navigation Protection Act

Shaun Alexander Stevenson

Abstract


 

This paper explores how the Canadian landscape is figured through two interrelated processes of settler colonialism, which form social and subjective identities in relation to Canadian environmental discourse. I explore these processes through what I refer to as settler sanctified and sacrificed landscapes. I read this dual process of settler sanctification and sacrifice through a literary representation in M.T. Kelly’s 1987 novel, A Dream Like Mine, exploring the operation of contemporary settler liberal environmentalism in a self-conscious settler narrative, and through Canadian environmental policy, which expresses the preemptive sanctification of the settler landscape present in Canada’s oldest piece of environmental legislation, the recently amended Navigation Protection Act. My readings of these two seemingly disparate texts aim to illustrate that a particular kind of sanctification of the landscape has structured settler-Canadian engagement with the environment from the very inception of official Canadian environmental discourse, thus creating the conditions for the landscapes’ inevitable sacrifice.


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