Indigenous rights in environmental justice : examining decolonization and human security in the context of Inuit seal hunting

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Klein, Joëlle
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In the current era of environmental activism, campaigns to address the impending impacts of climate change and global warming are increasingly visible and effective at making their positions known. Simultaneously, the advent of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), and a growing concern for indigenous rights has amplified the social movements of indigenous groups seeking access to, and recognition of, their rights. These movements often intersect with environmental justice campaigns over protections of land, environment, and against the encroachment of extractive resource industries. However, the relationships between indigenous and non-indigenous campaigns are not always cooperative, and subsequently can infringe upon the rights of indigenous communities. The following research uses decolonization theory to frame understandings of indigenous rights and to underscore the necessity of indigenous inclusion and participation in environmental movements. Furthermore, it posits that environmental justice campaigns have failed to adequately address indigenous rights within their activism, which can contribute to a further marginalization of indigenous concerns and purport to an extension of colonial power dynamics. In light of this, the thesis recognizes a need for environmental justice organizations to recentralize indigenous rights within their movements, and explores to what extent a human security framework can be utilized to achieve this aim. Finally, a case study on the interactions between environmental organizations and Inuit during the anti-sealing campaigns of the 1970s is undertaken to demonstrate the impact of environmental movements operating without adequate understandings of indigenous rights, and the need to utilize alternate approaches in constructing environmental justice campaigns.
Second semester University: Åbo Akademi University
indigenous rights, environment, Inuit, social movements, activists, decolonization