Students at the forefront : Interview with Zoé Boirin-Fargues!

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November 16 2020

This week, Zoé Boirin-Fargues, PhD student at University of Ottawa is answering our questions.

Subject of my thesis:

Legal perspectives of mining corporations regarding indigenous peoples' consultation

Why this subject is interesting to me and to the community:

Mining corporations are now key players regarding indigenous peoples' consultation. Yet, there is only few researches on how they internally organize such consultations. Getting a better understanding of their internal processes could help to understand how law - international, national, provincial, local, binding, non-binding...- actually shapes these processes, and, from there, what are the legal avenues of improvement to better take into account indigenous peoples' voices (and self-determination). That is of course the big picture and ambitious goal of my thesis: let's see what I can actually get from the field work!

On a more personal level, in my past experiences with different stakeholders of mining projects, I was fascinated by different perspectives of each person: the way some aspects were essential to some actors, and other not; how actors could be very unaware of other actors' realities; and which legal language was sometimes used to justify some actions. Then, I wanted to "digg" into these perspectives, especially the one from private actors that are less present in the literature or in the media. I'm particularly interested in understanding the influence of various "layers" of individual's realities and how they can play a role in an institutional environment such as a corporation. That is why my thesis, while being embedded in legal consciousness, also borrows from institutional sociology.

What the network brought you as a researcher:

The MinErAL network is a great source of dynamism: the network is active, makes links between its members, organize events that allow to be exposed to different researches. It also makes contact with partners outside the academic world, and then it seems to me that research makes more sense. That is a great source of energy as a researcher "in training"!

My most recent publication or communication:

I presented the results of a project (part of the MinErAL network) on indigenous peoples' rights in international investment and trade law in mining projects.

Favorite book/article related to my thesis topic:

Maybe "Reasoning about Responsibilities: Mining Company Managers on What Stakeholders are Owed" written by Wesley Cragg and Alan Greenbaum? When I found it, I felt relieved: I was not alone to see an interest in looking inside corporations! But my thesis focuses on Canada, and it is important to me to place corporations' perspectives in the broader context of this country: then I enjoyed reading J.R. Miller, Skyscrapers Hide the Heavens: A History of Indian-White Relations in Canada.