Enduring Dreams

Social Capital and Hydro Development in Northern Manitoba

  • Steven M Hoffman
    University of St. Thomas, Minnesota
  • Thibault Martin
    Université du Québec en Outaouais


The Canadian province of Manitoba has long pursued an aggressive strategy of hydroelectric development. This effort was predicated upon a mix of old and new assumptions, including long-held beliefs that power must be cheap and that the province, operating through its crown utility, Manitoba Hydro, possessed the only legitimate claim to northern land and water resources. The province also recognised the need to remove Aboriginal communities from lands and resources to be used for hydro development notwithstanding the fact that these communities and individuals had long practiced what was, by many accounts, a comfortable and economically viable way of life. Using a social capital framework developed by both sociologists and political scientists, the consequences of this strategy on the displaced Aboriginal residents of South Indian Lake, a small community located in Manitoba’s northern hydro region, are examined. The analysis is based on interviews conducted with former residents now living in a number of urban centers throughout the province. It is concluded that these individuals have been largely, if not entirely, unsuccessful in forming the variety of communal bonds emphasised by social capital theorists. These difficulties continue today, as individuals who were left on their own, with little assistance either from back home or from the state, exist in a world largely devoid of supportive social networks

Published: 2012-01-01
Pages:31 to 53
Section: Articles
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How to Cite
Hoffman, S. M., & Martin, T. (2012). Enduring Dreams: Social Capital and Hydro Development in Northern Manitoba. International Journal of Critical Indigenous Studies, 5(1), 31-53. https://doi.org/10.5204/ijcis.v5i1.93