Rebuilding the Economic Base of Indian Communities: The Micmac in Nova Scotia


200 pages
ISBN 0-88645-036-5
DDC 330





Reviewed by James S. Frideres

J.S. Frideres is Associate Dean (Research) of the Faculty of Social
Sciences at the University of Calgary and co-author of Prairie


The Micmac Indians come under close scrutiny in this analysis of their socio-economic position in Nova Scotia. Fred Wien has set a standard and a format that should be taken up by other scholars studying Indians in Canadian society. The author begins by providing a good historical review of Micmac-white relations in a variety of contexts. For example, he discusses Micmac economic history in a settler and industrial economy, followed by an analysis of how they arrived at their present state of poverty and economic dependency.

Chapter three presents a picture of contemporary employment patterns and trends. Data for this section is based on 1976 and 1981 surveys that were carried out by the author with the co-operation of the Union of Nova Scotia Indians. Both reserve and off-reserve Indians were included in the survey. The detailed data collected have been assembled in a lucid, readable form. While some comparable non-Indian data is presented, more would have been preferable. Nevertheless, a complete profile of Micmac Indians is provided to the reader.

The last two sections of the book are more analytical. The author tries to explain what has contributed to Indian poverty, underemployment, and dependence. Wien presents several contemporary theoretical approaches such as segmentation theory, dependency theory, internal colonialism, and staple theory; he tries to show how these theories are different (in terms of assurnptions and hypotheses) and to give some indication, on the basis of his data, of the degree of applicability of each theory.

After assessing the major theoretical frameworks that have been employed to explain the position of social minorities in North America, Wien discusses some of the issues of policy and strategy pertaining to Indian economic development in Nova Scotia. He presents a number of recommendations based on his results — some expected, others not. In the end, an interventionist role for the public sector is advocated but it is based on empirical results, not on a blindly-held theoretical perspective. The author has brought together theory and data which illuminate the direction of possible policies for Indian economic development.


Wien, Fred, “Rebuilding the Economic Base of Indian Communities: The Micmac in Nova Scotia,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 20, 2024,