Initiative For Indigenous Futures

Zoe Todd

Zoe Todd: Prairie Fish Futures
Métis Legal Traditions and Refracting Extinction

March 31st, 2017. Concordia University.

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This talk will explore the fishy futures that are possible through the co-constitutive labour of Métis stories, laws, art and philosophy. Scientists caution that Earth may be undergoing a mass extinction event, the sixth event of its kind in the history of the planet. They warn that up to ¾ of the Earth’s species may go extinct in the next few hundred years. Fish, who have survived in this world for 510 million years in one form or another, are facing dire threats across the globe and, indeed, are threatened in many parts of Canada. However, Blackfoot philosopher and scholar Leroy Little Bear reminds us that fish have survived numerous extinction events, and urges us to ask the fish what they think about the current state of affairs. This talk takes Little Bear’s work to heart, and explores what labour and action is required for Métis (otipemisiwak) peoples – rooted in the waterways that comprise the Lake Winnipeg Watershed – to tend to fish pasts, presents and futures. What futures can we imagine, together, across the worlds we share?


Todd (Métis) is from amiskwaciwâskahikan (Edmonton), which is located in Treaty Six Territory in Alberta, Canada. She is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Carleton University. She researches fish, colonialism and legal-governance relations between Indigenous peoples and the Canadian State. In the past, she has researched human-fish relations in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, and has conducted work on Arctic Food Security in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region in the Northwest Territories, Canada. Her current work focuses on the relationships between people and fish in the context of colonialism, environmental change and resource extraction in Treaty Six Territory (Edmonton, amiskwaciwâskahikan), Alberta. Her work employs a critical Indigenous feminist lens to examine the shared relationships between people and their environments and legal traditions in Canada, with a view to understanding how to bring fish and the more-than-human into conversations about Indigenous self-determination, peoplehood, and governance in Canada today.

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