PhD essay prize awarded to Dorota Kupis for article on treaty negotiations in British Columbia

Monday, March 18, 2024
Dorota Kupis

Dorota Kupis, PhD essay prize winner, shown at the 2024 Tri-U History Conference. Photo by Colin Schindler-Currie.

I would like to thank the Gitxsan for their support in this research. My appreciation goes to Chief Hanamuxw/Don Ryan and Linda Matthews, as well as many other community members.

Dorota Kupis, Tri-U History PhD essay prize winner, 2024

In the annual PhD essay prize award citation to Dorota Kupis, PhD student at Wilfrid Laurier University (Laurier), the adjudication committee states that they are "delighted" to award her the prize for the 2024 competition. Published in BC Studies in Winter 2022/23, they continue, "This article is a superb case study of treaty negotiations between two First Nations and the British Columbia provincial government." 

The article is entitled, “The Political Struggle Behind the Delgamuukw Case: The 1994-1996 Trilateral Treaty Negotiations with the Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en." Kupis' research shows how the Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en trilateral treaty negotiations are among the many examples of the failure of the British Columbia treaty negotiations process that was commissioned in 1990. The Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en were among those First Nations who undertook negotiations with the provincial government soon after the process was established. Their experience provides valuable insight into how this new process started in the 1990s.

In their citation, the adjudicators, Dr. Darryl Dee (Laurier), Dr. Femi Kolapo (University of Guelph) and Dr. Bruce Muirhead (University of Waterloo) explain that "the article is a superb case study of treaty negotiations between two First Nations and the British Columbia provincial government. Kupis presents an intricate analysis of how the Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en’s quests to have their Aboriginal rights and title recognized became entangled with the BC government’s neo-liberal approach to resource extraction. She shows how the treaty negotiations failed because of the clash of seemingly irreconcilable interests and goals. Lucidly written, grounded in a wide range of sources, and rigorously argued, Kupis’s article is a more than worthy prize winner."

The PhD essay prize winner was announced by Tri-U Director, Dr. Peter Goddard, at the annual Tri-University graduate history conference held on March 9, 2024 at the University of Guelph. The PhD Prize is given to the best paper published by a doctoral student in the previous calendar year.