Harvey Feit is professor emeritus in McMaster University’s Department of Anthropology. A major focus of Feit’s research is his work with Eeyou (Cree) peoples in Eeyou Istchee (primarily Northern Québec), particularly around the creation and implementation of the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement (JBNQA).
Feit was born in 1941. He pursued graduate studies in anthropology at McGill University, receiving an M.A. in 1969 and a Ph.D. in 1979. Feit’s research on Eeyou hunters led him to work closely with Eeyou communities on various ethnographic projects and, eventually, the negotiation and implementation of the JBNQA, which was the first major land claim agreement and treaty between the Crown and Indigenous peoples in Canada since the early 20th century. From 1972-1987, Feit served as expert witness in the court case preceding the signing of the JBNQA (Chief Robert Kanatewat et al. vs. JBDC, JBEC et al. in Québec Superior Court, 1973) and worked as a researcher, program and policy developer, and advisor with Eeyou negotiators and government bodies. A project of particular significance that Feit contributed to during this time was an income security program to sustain Eeyou families living on the land.
Feit was assistant professor at Carleton University (1972-1975) and McGill University (1975-1978). In 1981, he took up a full-time position at McMaster. In 1992, he assisted in founding the Indigenous Studies Program at the university. Feit also became a member of the adjunct graduate faculty in the Chanie Wenjack School for Indigenous Studies at Trent University. In 2001, he was named a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.
Feit’s research has appeared in two co-edited volumes and over 75 book chapters, journal articles, reports, and expert affidavits and testimonies. Major themes in his research include colonialism and its effects, Indigenous self-governance, the basic income program for Eeyou families, and subsistence hunting.