Title: “Moved by the State: Forced Relocation and ‘a Good Life’ in Postwar Canada”
Abstract: “Moved by the State” takes a seemingly arcane subject – forced relocation in peacetime Canada – and uses it to shed light on an institution of fundamental importance to Canadians: the welfare state. Canadians, especially English-speaking Canadians, consider it’s what distinguishes Canada from the United States. Rather than offer a close analysis of the welfare state’s programs, however, I take a step back and look at the social security it promised as a form of spatial justice. If the postwar state couldn’t deliver social services to people, it delivered people to services.
From the 1950s to the 1970s the Canadian state moved people, often against their wills, for what was believed to be their own good. But it didn’t just move them. In central Arctic, Newfoundland, and eastern Quebec, people were rarely left to their own devices after being relocated, nor did the places that received them escape attention. In the postwar period, the welfare state’s “will to improve” also manifested itself in attempts to alleviate poverty through regional and community development. These initiatives were aimed at building the capacity of the poor to determine their own futures, to make good lives for themselves – with mixed and unpredictable results.
Bio: Dr. Tina Loo’s work in environmental history, indigenous history, and legal history in Western and Northern Canada is prolific and widely known, and it has made her one of the most respected historians in Canada. In her newest project she has turned her attention eastward, where she examines (and maps) forced relocation policies and other forms of regional and community development in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and eastern Quebec. Her expertise in postwar development projects and how they fit into larger theories of “high modernism” will be critical for modern policy makers and academics alike. Although she does not directly address the 1969 PEI Comprehensive Development Plan in her new book Moved by the State, her expertise in these areas will be central to scholars attempting to understand this important chapter in the region’s history.