Protecting the settler common against indigenous incursions: Nick Martino, Conservation and Treaty Rights: A Critical Analysis of a Sport Organization’s Perspective on Indigenous Peoples’ Hunting and Fishing, MA dissertation, McMaster University, 2016


Abstract: The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) is an influential sport/interest group that has a long history of advocacy and involvement with policies and management related to the conservation of wildlife and outdoor recreation. Since the 1990’s, the OFAH have been outspoken with their criticisms towards particular Indigenous treaty hunting and fishing rights, co-management agreements, and land claims which are perceived to threaten conservation, future recreational opportunities, and the outdoor economy. Using semi-structured interviews with 20 Indigenous and non-Indigenous respondents and a content analysis of the OFAH’s official documents, this thesis analyzes and compares the views surrounding treaty rights between the OFAH leadership and ordinary hunters and fishers inside and outside the organization. Discourse Analysis, Group Position Theory, and Colour Blind Racism theory were used to flesh out how the meanings and perceived legitimacy of treaty rights are constructed and negotiated, and whether opposition to Indigenous harvesting rights reflects a reactionary response to defend settler-Canadians’ sense of superiority, privileges, and access to resources. The results showed that the OFAH and 55% of the respondents expressed feelings of concern, resentment, and in some cases opposition, revealing an established sense of group position. Although the OFAH leaders and 45% of the respondents displayed varying and limited degrees of support for treaty rights, the general pattern showed how OFAH leaders and respondents drew on similar repertoires with arguments and justifications based on equality, fairness, and a concern for wildlife conservation in order to criticize and/or oppose treaty rights. Consequently, these criticisms directly and indirectly work to define and redefine treaty rights and Indigenous treaty hunters and fishers in a negative manner. This case shows how resentment of and opposition to treaty rights within a settler colonial context embodies a perceived threat to settlers’ sense of group position and the status quo.

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