Diplomacy as Self-representation: British Columbia’s First Nations and China

In: The Hague Journal of Diplomacy
Jean Michel Montsion Department of International Studies, Glendon College, York University Toronto, M4N 3M6 on Canada

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China’s recent interest and substantial investments in Canada’s natural resource sector have led some First Nations in British Columbia to undertake diplomatic activities to represent their interests to Chinese officials and investors. This article explores the interplay developing between the diplomatic activities of British Columbia’s First Nations and those of the Canadian state in the area of natural resource promotion. It does so by examining the diplomatic efforts of British Columbia’s First Nations Energy and Mining Council and the Canadian government’s Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement with China. The article argues that this interplay represents a struggle over diplomatic representation, in which British Columbia’s First Nations challenge the Canadian state’s monopoly on the representation of indigenous interests abroad, whereas the Canadian state constantly reframes indigenous perspectives on international affairs as a matter of domestic jurisdiction, in order to re-ground its control over Canadian foreign diplomatic practices.

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