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Jean-Sebastien Boutet


Office: SN 2005
Telephone: (709) 864-8998
Fax: (709) 864-3119


Dr. Arn Keeling (geography) and Dr. John Sandlos (history)
Supervisory member , Dr. Kelly Vooden (geography)


B.Sc. (Mathematics, environmental sciences): McGill University, 2000-2005

Thesis title (Preliminary)

Iron mining in northern Québec: a historical geography of industrial wage economy and traditional Innu and Naskapi livelihoods, 1954-82.

Research interests

Canadian history; environmental history; mining history; labour history; political economy of natural resources; Indigenous studies; traditional livelihoods; oral tradition.

Research project

In this project I will use archival and oral history techniques to gather indigenous perspectives on the history of iron mining in the Schefferville region, northern Québec.

In Canada the opening of the northern frontier to industrial development in the late 19th and early 20th century has generally been justified in terms of exploration, economic development, colonization and nationalism. Indigenous perspectives regarding this form of development, in particular in the context of large-scale mining activities, have not been systematically documented. Despite the fact that the social, economic and environmental costs of mining activities and their abandonment have been borne disproportionately by northern indigenous communities, few case studies documenting their experiences with mineral development have been undertaken.

In Schefferville, the Iron Ore Company of Canada (IOCC) operated a large iron mine on traditional indigenous land, between 1954 and 1982. The winding down and post-closure phases of the mining operations were devastating for the local settler economy of Schefferville. However, little is known about the Innu and Naskapi mining experience, from the resettlement to Schefferville in the mid-1950s to the operating, winding down, and post-closure phases of the IOCC operations. In particular, the changing relationship between a mining wage economy and traditional Innu and Naskapi livelihoods has not been investigated. This research will hopefully contribute to address some of these historical shortcomings, in particular in light of the contemporary projects that are currently being developed by New Millennium Capital Corp. and Labrador Iron Mining Limited to re-open and expand the extraction of iron ore deposits in the region.