A Choice of Futures: Politics in the Canadian North


226 pages
Contains Illustrations, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-458-95190-0




Reviewed by Peter Victor

Peter Victor was Associate Professor with the Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University, Downsview, Ontario.


Interest in Canada’s north has been piqued in the last few years primarily as a result of the desire by southerners to find and exploit frontier energy resources. These efforts have given rise to a wide range of political, social, legal and environmental problems which demand attention from Canadians in all parts of the country if they are to be satisfactorily resolved.

In light of the complexity of these northern problems, and the difficulty most of us have in finding easily accessible accounts of the interrelated issues, it is fortunate that Gurston Dacks has written this book. He provides a comprehensive and interesting account of the political issues emanating from efforts to develop a vast but sparsely populated region. Our attention is directed to the mixed blessing that large-scale development brings to the native peoples. In particular, he stresses the incompatibility of the wage economy and traditional society and attributes to this much of the social malaise that affects native communities caught in the ambit of megaprojects.

One of the major strengths of the book is its detailed account of the historical evolution of Canada’s north. Dacks argues that the north, in many ways, has been a colony of the south. It has been and continues to be run by southerners to serve their interests rather than those of its inhabitants. However, he shows some optimism that the increasing demands of northerners over such matters as land claims and the improved planning of large projects are being heard and will be responded to. One can only hope that he is right.

Anyone seeking a readable account of the problems and opportunities facing northern Canada and its peoples will be more than satisfied by this well-researched volume.


Dacks, Gurston, “A Choice of Futures: Politics in the Canadian North,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed December 7, 2023, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/38814.