Throughout history, both in Canada, and many other parts of the world, settlers have taken possession of lands already inhabited by indigenous populations, exterminating many of these peoples, and destroying their values and self-determination, as well as disrupting the deep ties that had been forged in these areas over the centuries between human beings and the environment.
Max Liboiron suggests that colonialism is based on the access, possession, and exploitation of indigenous territories, to the exclusive advantage of the colonisers. This abuse of power, however, does not simply turn indigenous territories into new property for foreigners. There are also other, more subtle forms of colonialism, such as cultural appropriation, and using lands to obtain data for scientific research, as a resource, or as a place to dispose of waste. Sometimes, it also leads to unauthorised or disputed beach-cleaning operations in indigenous territories, which only serve the interests of the colonisers, despite the fact that these actions are usually driven by good intentions.
Pollution can also result in a territory being expropriated by colonisers, either deliberately or by accident. For instance, the severe pollution of the aquifers on the Bolivian plateau due to mining exploitation by foreign powers forced the natives to abandon their ancestral lands and their livelihoods, leaving the colonisers free to seize the territories and their riches. Contrary to popular belief, colonialism is not simply a system rooted in historically negative actions, but a set of forced relationships that are still in place today and that are constantly evolving. These ties are often maintained unwittingly and with the best intentions.