This week’s reading material was collected under the topic of tourism and environmentalism. I’d like to emphasise in this blog post how the measures taken to promote Canada’s wildlife and nature as untouched wilderness were justified by the idea of creating a source of identification for Canadians and a means to bring them together, all the while excluding indigenous peoples from the narrative and the documentation of romanticised Canadian landscapes and their beginnings. It is therefore important to realise the implications this had for indigenous peoples in terms of the lack of acknowledgment of their traditions and homes and therefore in terms of accepting their legitimacy of belonging to a Canadian people.

“The aesthetic appropriation of the environment as landscape”[1] was not only a way of creating a culture of nature tourism, it also had political implications for indigenous peoples since “the introduction of policies and laws restricting hunting and fishing technologies”[2] went along with it.

A remarkable example for that these restrictions weren’t always introduced as means to conserve the wildlife but to promote a specific agenda of a certain group comes from an article about the Banff National Park in Alberta, only a few hours away from our very own Kamloops. The authors argue that indigenous communities in the area of the national park didn’t only lose their hunting privileges because of the wish to conserve game and to create the ideal of an untouched wilderness. It was rather because of the lobbying of sport hunters who felt that “aboriginal hunters offended [their] values” [3]. Sport hunting groups were extremely influential and their actions in some cases decisive -an example for this being the enforcement of the hunting ban for the Banff National Park that was seen as “direct response to [sport hunter’s] petitions.”[4]

But whatever the motivation or agenda behind it, it is important to point out that in general, law and juridical power of the colonisers forced indigenous communities to give up vital traditions and their homes in order for tourists to be able to “safely enjoy the illusion that they were seeing their nation in its pristine, original state”. [5]. This way, they were transformed from prior inhabitants into hindrances for tourists interested in sightseeing with what Jessup identifies as “romantic gaze”[6], something that is born out of the traditional ideas about romanticism in connection with solitude, wilderness and the outstanding aesthetic of a particular landscape.

What’s remarkably ironic is that most of what tourists were seeing was an artificial creation by mankind instead of the unfiltered original since “the full weight state power was used through such management tools as wildlife conservation to impose an aesthetic and technical idea of landscape as a wilderness”[7] – while dismissing the history of indigenous peoples.



[1] Jessup, “The Group of Seven and the Tourist Landscape in Western Canada, or The More Things

Change,” Journal of Canadian Studies, 37,1 (2002): 149.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Binnema Theodore and Melanie Niemi, “’Let the Line Be Drawn Now‘: Wilderness, Conservation, and the Exclusion of Abiriginal People from Banff National Park in Canada,” Environmental History, 11,4 (2006): 731.

[4] Ibid., 732.

[5] Jessup, 147.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Sandlos, “From the Outside Looking In: Aesthetics, Politics, and Wildlife Conservation in the

Canadian North,” Environmental History, 6,1 (January 2001):7.