Dammed explores Canada’s hydroelectric boom in the Lake of the Woods area. It complicates narratives of increasing affluence in postwar Canada, revealing that the inverse was true for Indigenous communities along the Winnipeg River.
Dammed makes clear that hydroelectric generating stations were designed to serve settler populations. Governments and developers excluded the Anishinabeg from planning and operations and failed to consider how power production might influence the health and economy of their communities. By so doing, Canada and Ontario thwarted a future that aligned with the terms of treaty, a future in which both settlers and the Anishinabeg might thrive in shared territories.
The same hydroelectric development that powered settler communities flooded manomin fields, washed away roads, and compromised fish populations. Anishinaabe families responded creatively to manage the government-sanctioned environmental change and survive the resulting economic loss. Luby reveals these responses to dam development, inviting readers to consider how resistance might be expressed by individuals and families, and across gendered and generational lines.
Luby weaves text, testimony, and experience together, grounding this historical work in the territory of her paternal ancestors, lands she calls home. With evidence drawn from archival material, oral history, and environmental observation, Dammed invites readers to confront Canadian colonialism in the twentieth century.
HONORABLE MENTION, Labriola Center American Indian National Book Award (2020)
What People Are Saying
“Dammed is thoughtful, deeply researched, and urgent. Utilizing the tools of Indigenous Studies, environmental history, and women’s history and drawing on oral and written archives, Luby gives us a nuanced and supple analysis of Annishnaabe history in an eventful, and often very difficult, hundred years in Northwestern Ontario.” Adele Perry, FRSC, Distinguished Professor, History and Women’s and Gender Studies, University of Manitoba
“In Dammed: The Politics of Loss and Survival in Anishinaabe Territory, Luby offers a history, based on archival and oral resources, of the damming and transformation of the Winnipeg River system, all to the detriment of Indigenous people. A history of race, class, gender and labour, Dammed is also a compelling argument for an increased ability to think in systems and to think deeply about how a pathway to reconciliation needs to be bathed in historical reciprocity.” Matt Henderson, Winnipeg Free Press (Link)
About the Author
Brittany Luby is an award-winning historian at the University of Guelph. Her writing–both academic and creative–is intended to draw attention to social inequities in what is now known as Canada and to empower readers to envision alternate futures.