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Non-Indigenous partner perspectives on Indigenous peoples' involvement in renewable energy: exploring reconciliation as relationships of accountability or status quo innocence?



Purpose This research considers the potential for renewable energy partnerships to contribute to Canada's efforts to overcome its colonial past and present by developing an understanding of how non-Indigenous peoples working in the sector relate to their Indigenous partners. Design/methodology/approach This study is part of a larger research program focused on decolonization and reconciliation in the renewable energy sector. This exploratory research is framed by energy justice and decolonial reconciliation literatures relevant to the topic of Indigenous-led renewable energy. The authors used content and discourse analysis to identify themes arising from 10 semi-structured interviews with non-Indigenous corporate and governmental partners. Findings Interviewees’ lack of prior exposure to Indigenous histories, cultures and acknowledgement of settler colonialism had a profound impact on their engagement with reconciliation frameworks. Partners' perspectives on what it means to partner with Indigenous peoples varied; most dismissed the need to further develop understandings of reconciliation and instead focused on increasing community capacity to allow Indigenous groups to participate in the renewable energy transition. Research limitations/implications In this study, the authors intentionally spoke with non-Indigenous peoples working in the renewable energy sector. Recruitment was a challenge and the sample is small. The authors encourage researchers to extend their questions to other organizations in the renewable energy sector, across industries and with Indigenous peoples given this is an under-researched field. Originality/value This paper is an early look at the way non-Indigenous “partners” working in renewable energy understand and relate to topics of reconciliation, Indigenous rights and self-determination. It highlights potential barriers to reconciliation that are naïvely occurring at organizational and institutional levels, while anchored in colonial power structures.
Non-Indigenous partner
perspectives on Indigenous
peoplesinvolvement in renewable
energy: exploring reconciliation as
relationships of accountability or
status quo innocence?
Chad J.R. Walker
Queens University, Kingston, Canada
Mary Beth Doucette
Cape Breton University, Sydney, Canada
Sarah Rotz
York University, Toronto, Canada
Diana Lewis
Western University, London, Canada
Hannah Tait Neufeld
University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Canada, and
Heather Castleden
Queens University, Kingston, Canada
Purpose This research considers the potential for renewable energy partnerships to contribute to Canadas
efforts to overcome its colonial past and present by developing an understanding of how non-Indigenous
peoples working in the sector relate to their Indigenous partners.
Design/methodology/approach This study is part of a larger research program focused on decolonization
and reconciliation in the renewable energy sector. This exploratory research is framed by energy justice and
decolonial reconciliation literatures relevant to the topic of Indigenous-led renewable energy. The authors used
content and discourse analysis to identify themes arising from 10 semi-structured interviews with
non-Indigenous corporate and governmental partners.
Findings Intervieweeslack of prior exposure to Indigenous histories, cultures and acknowledgement of
settler colonialism had a profound impact on their engagement with reconciliation frameworks. Partners
perspectives on what it means to partner with Indigenous peoples varied; most dismissed the need to further
develop understandings of reconciliation and instead focused on increasing community capacity to allow
Indigenous groups to participate in the renewable energy transition.
Research limitations/implications In this study, the authors intentionally spoke with non-Indigenous
peoples working in the renewable energy sector. Recruitment was a challenge and the sample is small. The
authors encourage researchers to extend their questions to other organizations in the renewable energy sector,
across industries and with Indigenous peoples given this is an under-researched field.
Originality/value This paper is an early look at the way non-Indigenous partnersworking in renewable
energy understand and relate to topics of reconciliation, Indigenous rights and self-determination. It highlights
or status quo?
The authors would like to thank those who volunteered their time as participants and helped to create a
rich dataset. The authors are also grateful to the anonymous peer reviewers who provided constructive
feedback on the article. Funding for this research was provided by the Canadian Institutes for Health
Research (380925).
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
Received 2 April 2020
Revised 11 August 2020
Accepted 25 January 2021
Qualitative Research in
Organizations and Management:
An International Journal
© Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/QROM-04-2020-1916
potential barriers to reconciliation that are naıvely occurring at organizational and institutional levels, while
anchored in colonial power structures.
Keywords Indigenous peoples, Renewable energy, Content analysis, Discourse analysis, Reconciliation,
Settler moves to innocence, Settler colonialism, Canada
Paper type Research paper
1. Introduction
To address climate change and build clean energy economies, renewable energy projects are
a necessary and defining characteristic of a low-carbon transition. In Canada and other settler
colonial contexts, Indigenous peoples (First Nations, Inuit, and M
etis in Canada),
communities, organizations, and governments are leading, co-developing or otherwise
becoming involved with such projects. The notion of renewable energy, with its low
environmental impact, is said to align with Indigenous ways of knowing (Lowan-Trudeau,
2017; Planes as quoted by Kairos Canada, 2018). In a recent review of Indigenous renewable
energy, Stefanelli et al. (2018) wrote that such developments may also provide pathways
toward advancing Indigenous-settler reconciliation and re-establishing Indigenous
self-sufficiency (see also Campney, 2019;Pembina Institute, 2018;Walker et al., 2019). Yet
when Crown-owned and corporate utilities regulate and control new energy generation, there
is little space or ability for Indigenous peoples (including communities, corporations,
individuals and governments) to build, own and control projects themselves. As a result,
Indigenous peoples are more likely forced to form partnerships with non-Indigenous
developers, governments and utilities for expediency or practicality.
It is within this context that we present a study exploring the relationships between non-
Indigenous organizations and Indigenous peoples within the renewable energy sector of
Canada. Such assertions that the sector may provide a vehicle for reconciliation and better
nation-to-nation(s) relationships are not yet supported by empirical evidence especially with
regard to the relationships that influence the ongoing life and functioning of these types of
organizations and the Indigenous peoples they affect (Love, 2019). To help address this gap,
provide information for Indigenous communities, and guide governments, developers, and
utilities to more meaningfully respond to Calls to Action towards reconciliation (TRC, 2015), we
employed content and discourse analyses through in-depth interviews with non-Indigenous
partners in renewable energy projects. We defined these partners[1] as representatives from
non-Indigenous corporations, businesses and utilities who have collaborated or co-developed
at least one renewable energy project with an Indigenous government or organization. Of the
43 unique partner organizations identified through a Lumos Energy (ICE, 2018) database, we
were able to speak with representatives from nearly one-quarter (n510), which allowed us to
access a certain depth of understanding (Legard et al., 2003), while ensuring quality through
several key markers in qualitative inquiry (Tracy, 2010).
Our goal here is to provide a snapshot in time using interviews to examine the context
and current-day practices of Indigenous and non-Indigenous relationships in Canada.
Though we present comments of individuals, we recognize their statements reflect the larger
(colonial) system we are in (i.e. we focus on systems rather than individual settlers; see
Sylvestre et al., 2019). Understanding the ways partnerships are formed, structured, and
embodied is essential to evaluating the potential for renewable energy to contribute to
Indigenous-led efforts to dismantle Canadas colonial past and present and to engage with
Indigenous Ways of Knowing for a sustainable future.
1.1 Truth and reconciliation in Canada
By nearly every measure of socio-economic and health status, First Nations, Inuit and M
peoples experience significantly disproportionate degrees of inequity than non-Indigenous
peoplesin Canada (Greenwood et al., 2018;Hajizadeh et al.,2018). This was not alwaysthe case; in
fact we can trace these contemporary inequities to early European encounters and an ongoing
colonialprocess where Indigenouspeoples have been systematically dispossessed of their lands
and livelihoods, and subjugated by attempts to assimilate them into the colonial regime
(Richmond and Cook, 2016). State sanctioned systems, likeIndian Residential and Day Schools,
sought to eradicate Indigenous practices, knowledges and identities (TRC, 2015). Forced
relocation processes have also been salient in extractive natural resource development
(McCreary and Turner, 2018;Sandlos and Keeling, 2016). These forms of capitalist economies
havesystematicallyignoredIndigenouslegal andgovernancesystems(Russell, 2011;Wuttunee,
2010)leaving communities to struggle with long-lasting health and environmental problems.
Through global efforts to reclaim their Indigenous rights, the United Nations finally
signed the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous peoples (known as UNDRIP) in 2007.
UNDRIP recognizes respect for Indigenous knowledge, cultures and traditional practices
contribute to sustainable and equitable development and proper management of the
environmentand espouses free, prior, and informed consentfor such development
(UN, 2019, p. 4). Canada adopted the Declaration in 2016, and British Columbia became the
first Canadian province that has enacted UNDRIP into its government legislation.
Through the lens of UNDRIP, when led by and aligning with the views of Indigenous
peoples, some have said that the rightkind [2] of development can provide pathways
toward improvements in health, socioeconomic conditions, preservation of traditional
values, and greater self-determination (Anderson et al., 2004;Corntassel, 2008).
According to a roadmap for reconciliation provided through the 2015 Truth and
Reconciliation Commissions (TRC) Final Report, every element of settler Canadian society
including health care, justice, media, governments and industry has a role in reconciliation
and building nation-to-nation(s) relationships (TRC, 2015). The TRC highlights that both
governments and the corporate sectorare important partners in reconciliation, which includes
the renewable energy sector. Thus, this work is positioned within the wider goal of informing
short and medium-term priority Calls to Actions (#43 and #92) identified by the TRC:
(1) Call #43: We call upon federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments to
fully adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of
Indigenous peoples as the framework for reconciliation.
(2) Call #92: We call upon the corporate sector in Canada to adopt the United Nations
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous peoples as a reconciliation framework and to
apply its principles, norms and standards to corporate policy and core operational
activities involving Indigenous peoples and their lands and resources.
Using these frameworks and a combination of conversations with Indigenous and non-
Indigenous peoples over the past three years through our program of research (A SHARED
Future), and social scientific literatures (see Section 2), the primary questions we are
concerned with in this paper are:
(1) How do non-Indigenous partnersexperiences of formal and informal education
concerning Indigenous peoples influence their work?
(2) How do non-Indigenous partners understand and practice reconciliation?
(3) How do non-Indigenous partners describe and define the partnerships they are in?
2. Scope and literature review
The TRC was formed as part of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, the
largest class action lawsuit in Canadian history (Bak et al., 2017). The settlement mandated
or status quo?
that the TRC be established to officially witness the testimony of thousands of survivors that
had been ignored for decades, and to educate Canadians about the long-term social impacts
that Indian Residential Schools have had on Indigenous communities and Canadian society
as a whole (TRC, 2015). It is worth noting that past efforts to develop a national vision of
reconciliation have had little impact (e.g. the 1996 Royal Commission on Aboriginal peoples;
see NFR, 2016). Thus, the TRC Final Report was intended to be another reference point for
Canadians entering the conversation with Indigenous peoples. The reports Commissioners
advocated for a form of reconciliation in which virtually every aspect of Canadian society
would be reconsidered(TRC, 2015, p. 6). Each of the 94 Calls to Action identified a Canadian
institution or sector and an action they could take to redress the legacy of residential schools
(TRC, 2015). Many Calls describe the need to work in collaboration with Indigenous
organizations and to adopt UNDRIP as a reconciliation framework.
Because the contemporary trend in Canada has been to discuss reconciliation without
outlining its intended meaning (Wylie, 2017), in this study and our overall research
program we openly favour a model of reconciliation described by Walters (2008) as
reconciliation as relationship (Walters, 2008). More specifically, we have applied a
research framework of Etuaptmumk (Two-Eyed Seeing) (Bartlett et al., 2012) throughout
our program of research. By embracing Etuaptmumk, our team of Indigenous, non-
Indigenous and mixed-ancestry authors accepted the challenge to consider multiple
worldviews and expertise as we formed our research questions, interview guide, and while
analysing interview data. Through regular team discussions that also included
Indigenous leaders as co-investigators and collaborators in A SHARED Future, we
clarified our preference for reconciliation as relationship to distinguish it from an
alternative possibility, reconciliation as consistency (see Walters, 2008). We see the
consistencyalternative as being in-line with what has been described by others as
[settler] moves to innocence: strategies to remove involvement in and culpability for
systems of domination(Mawhinney, 1998,p.17).
In our analysis, we sought to identify how non-Indigenous peoples (or settlers) may
deploy strategies and tactics in attempts to ease their path to reconciliation or bypass it
entirely. Understanding settler responses to Indigenous resistance and resurgence through
such moves to innocence reveals how colonial structures seek to maintain control over the
material conditions of colonization (Tuck and Yang, 2012). Settler moves can range from calls
to get over itand move onand strategies to assimilate Indigenous peoples, to outright
ignorance, denial or dismissal of colonial harm, or the use of cruel and violent stereotypes to
evade accountability (Tuck and Yang, 2012). It is not surprising that settlers, whether
wilfully or unintentionally, may deploy such moves when engaging in economic
The progressive politics of renewable energy should not blind us to the fact that its
development is still occurring within an ongoing colonial reality. Thus, we also situate our
study in energy justice theory (Sovacool and Dworkin, 2015;Walker and Baxter, 2017)
while drawing from Tuck and Yangs (2012) settler moves to innocenceto understand
and analyse our data. Energy justice is the emerging idea that long-standing concepts of
justice and equity should be applied to the entire energy landscape production,
consumption, policy and climate change (Jenkins et al., 2016). In their review paper,
MacArthur and Matthewman (2018) write about the dual energy justice challengeof
addressing climate change (via renewable energy) but doing so in a way that does not
further disenfranchise Indigenous peoples (see also MacArthur et al., 2020). For example,
set in Batchewana First Nation (Ontario, Canada) Smith and Scott (2018) question the
often-idyllic way renewable energy is portrayed as an energy source without injustice
when it is set within the parameters of dominant settler-state economic and legal
frameworks(p. 2).
2.1 Indigenous peoplesinvolvement in renewable energy in Canada
Scholarship concerning Indigenous peoplesengagement in renewable energy in Canada has
grown over the past decade (see Campbell, 2011;Krupa et al., 2012a,b;Krupa et al., 2015;
Mercer et al., 2020;Ozog, 2012;Rezaei and Dowlatabadi, 2016;Schultz, 2017;Smith and Scott,
2018;Stefanelli et al., 2018;Walker et al., 2019). This literature points to the idea that
Indigenous peoples may be well-positioned and motivated to play an important role in a
renewable energy transition (see also Henderson, 2013). Indigenous communities are said to be
moving forward with development to help increase energy autonomy (see also Lawrence,
2014;Fields-Lefkovic, 2012;Schultz, 2017)creating independent revenue that can fight the
impacts of colonization (Fitzgerald, 2018), and assist in self-determination (Helin, 2014;
Karanasios and Parker, 2018). However, there are also clear risks of engaging in the wrong
kind of renewable energy development (e.g. large-scale hydro projects like Site C in British
Columbia; see also Walker et al., 2019). Building energy projects without regard for how such
development impacts local Indigenous histories and ways of life can create new sacrifice zones
(see Cole and Foster, 2001;Lerner, 2010;Scott and Smith, 2016) that can simply recast stories
of injustice (Bickerstaff et al., 2013;Hudson and Vodden, 2020;Murphy and Smith, 2013).
In a report by the Shareholder Association for Research and Education (SHARE, 2017),
public disclosures from Toronto Stock Exchange-listed renewable energy and clean
technologycompanies were scrutinized for quality of Indigenous relations and
commitments to Call to Action #92. They found disclosure was poor across the board...
[with only] 3 of the 19 companies [providing] employment and contracting information, while
4 discussed community investments and initiatives(p. 17). The SHARE report provides
important insights regarding two aspects of Call to Action #92, but the analysis did not
include analysis of employeesIndigenous awareness, education, and intercultural
While the aforementioned literature helps us to understand some general trends, there is a
lack of scholarship associated with our studys three research questions (RQs).
2.2 RQ#1: formal and informal education about Indigenous peoples
Research has shown that a purposefully designed lack of exposure to any (or inaccurate)
histories of settler colonialism and structural racism against Indigenous peoples has created
generations of ignorant Canadians. Such attitudes can play out in private and public spaces
to increase fear, uphold settler-privilege, and reinforce colonial ways of thinking (Godlewska
et al., 2013;Pratt and Danyluk, 2017;Regan, 2010;Schaefli and Godlewska, 2014). Godlewska
et al. (2017) write that while education is not the only source of such ignorance, the system
perpetuates this kind of thinking. This ignorance is amplified through omissions and
significant silences, nationalist self-congratulation, apology, problematic placement, the
continuance of colonialist narratives and relegation of [Indigenous] peoples to primitive
place/time(Godlewska et al., 2010, p. 436). To address this and dismantle constructs of
colonialism, more recent research has advocated for sweeping changes across Canadian
educational institutions (Battiste, 2016;LeBlanc, 2012;Madden, 2015)particularly through
service-learning programs (Pratt and Danyluk, 2017) and field-schools (Castleden et al., 2013).
Following the TRCs five-year process and findings, various institutional efforts have
been made to increase awareness and create space for Indigenous peoples in historically
settler institutions. For example, efforts have been made to Indigenizepost-secondary
campuses and curricula (Gaudry and Lorenz, 2018). However, it is also clear that changing
systems of education to be more inclusive is not enough to disrupt the systems that were
created to systematically dismantle Indigenous knowledge systems and forms of
autonomous self-governance. That is, we must acknowledge the violent past behind our
denial of Indigenous histories and settler colonialism in education.
or status quo?
2.3 RQ#2: Thinking about and practicing reconciliation
At the global scale UNDRIP is a form of reconciliation; the Declaration emphasizes the rights
of Indigenous peoples to live in dignity, to maintain and strengthen their own institutions,
cultures and traditions and to pursue their self-determined development(UN, 2019, p. 1).
A main mechanism by which this should occur is the right to Free, Prior and Informed
Consent (FPIC), which requires state governments to obtain consent when making decisions
that will affect Indigenous peoples and their territories.
Particularly relevant to both the Canadian context, we focus on the Final Report of the
TRC and Call to Action #43 (governments) and Call to Action #92 (corporate sector). In
addition, the conclusion of the TRC summary report (2015, pp. 305306) states that:
First Nations, Inuit, and M
etis peoples today want to manage their own lives. In terms of
the economy, that means participating in it on their own terms. They want to be part of the
decision-making process. They want their communities to benefit if large-scale economic
projects come into their territories.Within this context, it seems crucial to identify ways that
settler partners may undermine the tenets of these goals by practicing, for example,
(well-treaded) moves to innocence.
2.4 RQ#3: defining renewable energy partnerships
There is a small but useful set of studies that explore non-Indigenous partners define
partnerships with Indigenous peoples. This includes a study by Bullock and Zurba (2017)
about the way partnerships are framed within biomass energy in Canada. The authors note
that conventional (western) framing of economic development as a corporate revenue
generator is still salient, while emerging concepts more important to Indigenous communities
like social responsibility, community leadership and local decision-making are gaining
traction. As a result, groups are coming together to create new kinds of collaborations. In a
more recent, but tangential area of research, Bullock et al. (2019) have published research that
suggests nine distinct categories of engagementin natural resource management (p. 85).
Their work also focused on the different levels of capacity identified by Indigenous peoples,
which are both instrumental to the types of partnerships that can be attained in the short
term, and can be built-up over the longer term.
Campney (2019), who looks to characterize participation and the structure of Indigenous
clean energy projects in Canada, began her work with the assumption that projects which
meet the threshold for community energy (see also Baxter et al., 2020;Creamer et al., 2019)
may provide the best vehicles for reconciliation. Determining exact project structures proved
difficult, yet most were deemed partnerships between Indigenous communities and
non-Indigenous corporations, with a small number (n56) that are fully Indigenous
government owned, and one cooperative. While Campney advocates for the benefits of
community (Indigenous) owned clean energy, she notes that because Indigenous
communities are still embedded within settler colonialism (e.g. First Nations regulated by
the Indian Act to varying degrees), it is unclear how much community support or community
participation/control a given nation has...even when fully Indigenous-owned(p. 55). If
within this context there is indeed a lack of local control, then projects may be a perpetuation
of colonialism and patriarchy(p. 56; see also Hira, 2020). We attempt to answer one of
Campneys (2019) calls for future research, which asks for greater understanding of
Indigenous ownership in renewable energy.
3. Methodology
This study is part of a larger program of research entitled [Achieving Strength, Health, and
Autonomy through Renewable Energy Development for the Future (A SHARED Future;
QROM], which is examining renewable energy development as a possible
vehicle for reconciliation across Canada. As a diverse team of Indigenous and settler scholars
from academia, communities, non-governmental organizations, and government agencies
we orient our team on Gaudry and Lorenz(2018) three-part Canadian Academy spectrum
as working in a decolonial Indigenization space, where we seek to overhaul the academy to
fundamentally reorient knowledge production based on balanced power relations(p. 226).
As mentioned above, our research program integrates Etuaptmumk (Bartlett et al., 2012)
throughout [name removed for review]. In practice, this means we have designed a program
that reflects the lessons shared with us by Indigenous knowledge holders and Allies who
have been engaging in co-learning journeys for decades.
Following Bartlett et al. (2012), we have: willing and knowledgeable collaborators and
advisors from within research institutions and Indigenous communities across Canada and
internationally; designed team gatherings that encourage us to weave back and forth
between worldviews; considered science in an inclusive way; and generally accepted and
engaged with the tensions that are inherent in co-learning journeys involving multiple
ontologies and epistemologies. Within our research program, we have collaboratively
developed Terms of Reference that reflect our principles and focus on healing relationships
and reconciliation between knowledge systems. The establishment of a governance
structure, with 50% (or more) Indigenous individuals in decision-making roles, and based
on the principles of Etuaptmumk created conditions that led to:
(1) support for this research project to learn about the perspectives of non-Indigenous
(2) development of research questions and creation of an interview guide that drew
attention to UNDRIP and the TRC Calls to Action,
(3) collaboratively interpreting our findings (see 3.2 below) in ways that recognized
diverse perspectives including western and Indigenous forms of knowledge,
(4) sharing participant responses and our interpretations of them with a wider range of
program collaborators (see acknowledgements), and
(5) critically discussing the implications of the findings with program collaborators
which created opportunities to clarify and refine the themes highlighted here.
3.1 Data collection
In this exploratory study, we conducted in-depth, semi-structured interviews with a
judgement sample [3,4] (as in Marshall, 1996) of non-Indigenous partners of renewable energy
projects that involved Indigenous communities. Recruitment was generated from company
and utility names available from a report by Lumos Clean Energy (ICE, 2018). In the report,
involvement was defined across eight categories: Indigenous ownership; memorandum of
understanding with economic benefits; royalty agreements; evidence of Indigenous
financing; revenue sharing agreements; lease agreements; Impact Benefit Agreements
(IBAs); and/or partnership agreements(p. 7). From this database, we identified and compiled
a list of 43 unique companies/utilities.
Our research protocol received clearance from Queens University. From there, prospective
participants were contacted by email beginning in April 2018 using this publicly available
information. Initial contacts chosen included those associated with management positions
(when available), Indigenous relations departments (when available), and/or general
information emails.
After seven months of emails and phone calling, interviews with six participants had been
completed. We decided to reach out again to the remaining 37 organizations from November
or status quo?
to December 2018. In the four months following, we were able to complete four more
interviews (n510 total). We received one bounce-backemail from a large corporations
Aboriginal Relations department. It read, this email is periodically monitored. We did not
hear back. In four other instances, respondents from corporations noted they needed to
receive approval from senior management. We did not hear back and assume approvals were
not granted. An iterative approach to the analysis of data was undertaken as each interview
took place. After 10 interviews, we agreed that we were hearing the same perspectives,
experiences and key themes, and thus had reached data or thematic saturation (see Guest
et al., 2006;Hennink et al., 2017).
The 10 interviews lasted between 45 min and 1 h 45 min. Half of the participants (n55)
were working as a corporate developer, one was a representative of a non-Indigenous
municipal government (see [Community] developer), three worked for provincial/territorial
utilities, and one participant worked as an executive in a project management company. Most
(7/10) were male and ages ranged from approximately 26 to 60 (see Table 1). In order to best
accommodate schedules, all conversations took place over the phone. In all cases, voluntary
consent was given after reading through a Letter of Information about the study. Interviews
were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. Through the use of pseudonyms and full
transcript reviews (i.e. to remove identifying information), participant confidentiality and
anonymity was sought but not guaranteed.
3.2 Data analysis
Interview transcripts were analysed using content and discourse analyses, based on an
inductive approach inspired by grounded theory (Charmaz and Belgrave, 2012) with
guidance from reconciliation frameworks and the relevant literature above. Transcripts were
uploaded to qualitative data organizing software NVivo 12 and analysis involved line-by-line
content and discourse coding to support the practice of elaborate story telling(Sotiriasdou
et al., 2014, p. 229).
Content analysis was completed first, which allowed us to uncover the frequency of
themes within the dataset (Morgan, 1993;Schreier, 2014). The primary goals here were to
organize the data and [consider] the tone, interpretation, and context of content(Sovacool,
2014, p. 2). Next, we read through some of the most prevalent themes as well as those that
were less frequent but well-connected to the literature and/or research objectives and used
a critical discourse analysis framework (Fairclough and Wodak, 1997;Gee, 2004). Under the
assumption that discourse is a social practice (Fairclough and Wodak, 1997, p. 357), this was
done for two reasons: (1) to better understand constructivist power relations (Philips and
Hardy, 2002) and (2) to uncover how the words and behaviour of participants may follow
from larger, deeper, and/or hidden causes (Bechtel and Richardson, 1993). In addition to
NAME Type of participant (province) Approx. Age, Gender
MichelleDeveloper (ON) 35, Female
JohnDeveloper (AB) 60, Male
Andrew" Developer (NS) 43, Male
EvelynDeveloper (ON) 28, Female
RossDeveloper (BC) 36, Male
Matthew[Community] Developer 55, Male
PeterProvincial/Territorial Utility 45, Male
KevinProvincial/Territorial Utility 50, Male
Janelle" Provincial/Territorial Utility 43, Female
Chris" Project management (BC) 37, Male
Table 1.
List of participants
(names are
analysis conducted within NVivo, throughout the course of the study there were three
instances of team-based analysis that would take place prior to and during [program
removed] meetings. This type of practice is said to increase intercoder reliability, a measure
of agreement among multiple coders for how they apply codes to text data(Kurasaki, 2000,
p. 179). This also kept the study grounded in an Etuaptmumk approach by engaging in
collaborative social co-analysis (Sanders and Cuneo, 2010).
Responding to a call from Baxter and Eyles (1997) to explain why particular voices are
heard and others silenced(p. 508), in our findings below we selected quotes to represent those
most poignant to the research context and/or representative of the overall sample of
participants. This aligns with two of Tracys (2010) eight Big-Tentcriteria for excellent
qualitative research (i.e. resonance and meaningful coherence).
4. Findings
We begin here with the participantsunderstanding of their own formal and informal
education related to Indigenous peoples and issues of settler colonialism. We then share
participantsthoughts on reconciliation frameworks. Lastly, we discuss the findings related
to what participants define as partnership in renewable energy.
4.1 Settler (un)learning about Indigenous peopleshistories and contemporary colonial
Among participants, there was self-admittedly little knowledge of settler colonialism,
Indigenous cultures and/or contemporary lived experience with Indigenous peoples before
entering the workforce. Their explanations reflect the extent to which Indigenous peoples
were simplistically presented as creatures of the past(as noted by participant Ross)or
socially inconsequential in the public education system in Canada. As children and young
adults, this structure (and others) silenced the truth of Canadas historical and ongoing
oppressive relationship with Indigenous peoples. Participantsquotes presented below
further reflect the need for unlearning the popular media myths, misconceptions, stereotypes,
and tropes about Indigenous peoples in Canada. For example, when asked about his
understanding of Indigenous peoples before his career began, Ross’” cites only negative
perceptions, which were typical across participants.
Ross:Frankly not much. I was brought up and learned in school that Indians were creatures of the
past. No mention of how they lived now. The only ones I would rarely meet would be taking the bus to
downtown Calgary, and you avoided them.
Similarly, Andrew spoke to his previous ignorance while acknowledging that despite his
recent efforts, theres [still] so much to learn.
Andrew:Id say pre-2012 I had zero exposure and knowledge to First Nations. Ive learned a bit but
theres so much to learn, its mind boggling. All these different communities, different languages...
different histories, different stories.
When asked about more specific educational memories, Evelynand Janellediscussed
their lack of understanding regarding Indigenous peopleshistories.
Evelyn:Really limited to be honest. I grew up in a really small community...And so, I do not know,
it wasnt a lot really. No exposure or discussion about it.
Janelle:My understanding of First Nations was very limited when I came here and part of that was
growing up in [this province/territory]. There was...the [Indigenous Nation] and what I knew about
them is that they lived on the reserves. There wasnt a lot taught about, I wasnt very clear about the
residential schools until I moved to Toronto [after university].
or status quo?
For most people we spoke with, unlearning did not really begin until their adult/working years.
Whether at university or at work, five of those interviewed recalled participating in some kind
of formal education program that centred on or involved Indigenous-settler relations, settler
colonialism, and Indigenous peoplesworldviews. One example comes from Janellewhose
eyes were opened during what she called mandatory Aboriginal trainingat work.
Janelle:When I started... I had some Aboriginal training to understand Aboriginal culture and
sensitivity and the history, and it was incredibly eye opening. It was when you got into the
conversation about Residential Schools and the impact they had had on the reservation system and
how Aboriginal communities feel and how they view the world and the environment and their beliefs
and culture. So, it was incredible, this whole other rich culture that was very sad and on some levels in
terms of what happened to their culture, but also enriching.
While Janelle felt enriched, she referred to sadness about cultural loss rather than recognizing
the colonial violence of the reserve and residential school systems. Outside of formalized or
official training programs, participants described informal situations that also unsettled
their preconceived notions. For example, Johnrecalled when his beliefs about Indigenous
peoples first began to change as a young adult.
John:I remember my last year of university in BC and I stayed in a residence and the kids in the
next room. One of them was from Saskatchewan, [name]...He was from a reserve down there,
I remember talking to him about it, quizzing him about it, I thought it was very cool. And he sat me
down and said no its not cool. You have no idea what a reserve is like. Let me tell you about it.
And I was spooked.
For John, his first impressions were to see the reserve experience as coolwithout seeing
the oppressive structural inequity it created. In another story of unlearning first-hand,
Janelletold of a recent visit to a First Nation community in western Canada.
Janelle:I visited a community to go talk about solar [energy]. They had a death in the community
the day before we got there. And theyre like we do not have running water here and just had a death
in the community. And what we really need is clean running water and better lighting because people
are falling victim to violence. Because its so dark on our reserve, places are no longer safe. Imagine
how stupid we feel when were like oh, lets install solar panels. And I think that comes back
sometimes to the paternalistic role of the white man or the settlers.
Meanwhile Kevindescribed learning about the Indian Act from a First Nations leader he
met through work.
Kevin:[This leader] used the example of, just imagine what would happen today if you woke up
tomorrow and [the] Harbour was full of vessels, war vessels that we did not know...and who
effectively came in and took control of our land, put us in small reserves, you know, took our
children...I just, you know, that example of putting yourself in that position and trying to empathize
with the certainly helps to start to appreciate why we hear the concerns we hear and the
frustration and everything else.
The themes of formal and informal education in this section describe a variety of unsettling
situations that non-Indigenous people recalled to describe their past and present
understanding, and to an extent unlearning about Indigenous-settler relationships. We
also want to highlight an important aspect of their narrative, in which Indigenous peoples are
taking on the role of teachers re-educating non-Indigenous people about unequal power
relations that are perpetuated in contemporary stereotypes.
4.2 Reconciliation efforts
Primary questions posed at the outset of this study centred on whether or not renewable
energy is or even should be a vehicle for reconciliation efforts. Thus, we asked
interviewees how frameworks, like the UNDRIPs FPIC and the TRCs Calls to Action were
being implemented. Their responses indicated that they were aware of these frameworks and
there was a range of organizational responses to them. Many of these responses build on the
themes from the previous section that prioritize the need to create more opportunities at work
where employees can learn about Indigenous cultures and histories, and while not explicitly
stated as such, the contemporary realities of settler colonialism.
The most common initial response amongst participants, as demonstrated by Rossand
Michelle, indicate their organizations have been practicing these principles long before the
UNDRIP or the TRC.
Ross:Weve been practicing that [UNDRIP] for over 10 years in this industry, I do not know that
anything has changed there.
Michelle:I think a lot of whats included with UNDRIP and TRC is built into [COMPANY NAME] s
mandate. Just this idea of free and informed prior consent, thats what were all about, so yeah its
easy to say yeah we already do that’–we absolutely need to still be recognizing that and learning
more and doing more. [But] I think were on the right path.
Yet when asked for tangible examples of how the TRC or UNDRIP affects their companys
daily operations (i.e. meetings, corporate mission statements) most participants could not
identify any.
Evelyn:I would not say [we discuss the TRC or UNDRIP] in a formal setting. Sometimes we discuss
it between a few of us in the office. But this is an area Im passionate about so Im trying to bring in
those Calls to Action to the company
Kevin:I do not think so, not yet, its uh, you know its not something we talk about a lot out here in
[our province/territory], um at least in my environment, its something Im actually working on as
we speak...
Only two participants we spoke with seemed to have a more nuanced understanding of the
TRC and referred to part three (education) of the TRC Call to Action #92 aimed at corporate
Canada. Johnand Chrisexplained that their organizations had developed in-house
resources to provide staff with more access to learning about Indigenous peoples
perspectives, the upstream determinants of Indigenous peopleshealth (i.e. colonialism and
racism), and Indigenous ways of being.
John:The third part of the Call to Action [#92] is about education for management and staff.
We actually have in our intranet, the internal library; we have little snippets, not quite online courses
about Indigenous peoples. Im actually preparing to do a luncheon for international Indigenous
peoples Day to bring everybody up to speed on some of the latest things. My goal on this is given
where the part of town our office is in. Theres quite a few homeless people and a certain percentage
of them are Indigenous. To see those people on the street and have an understanding of the
generations of residential schools, that led that person to be there.
Chris:The other recommendation within that is our education piece at an executive level if I
remember correctly in this company all employees have a copy of the [TRC] recommendation and we
have just a regular library of books of First Nations histories.
Thus, while there were some efforts to increase awareness of Indigenous histories, most
participants made clear that their business-as-usual approach would meet their criteria of
reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. There was no explicit mention that these education
materials would specifically address settler colonial structures or decolonizing settler
mentalities of supremacy. Indeed, formal policy guidance like UNDRIP and the TRC were
sometimes seen as impediments to business-as-usual.
or status quo?
Ross:Id say at this point in time [UNDRIP and the TRC] have not affected how we do business.
Whether or not thats the case in two years or five years, its hard to predict...Even if there is a large
success in delivering UNDRIP or TRC can make significant headway, I do not know that I can
envision a situation where that significantly impacts how we go about business.
This quote shows an enfolding of reconciliation in business as a strategy of continued erasure
and assimilation, one that neglects Indigenous ways of being and doing things differently
from the settler colonial norm. Perhaps even more dramatically, we see that Janelledoes not
connect the business of energy with reconciliation or UNDRIP:
Janelle:The work that Im involved in does not [relate to UNDRIP or the TRC] because its about
energy and when we need energy. So, it does not matter about UNDRIP or reconciliation. That does
not drive the work that Im doing. Its separate from that.
When asked about commitments to reconciliation, UNDRIP, the TRC, and even this much
broader idea of corporate social responsibility, Johnand Kevinmentioned that those
terms are not often used in their business, but they instead live them through their actions.
John:Recommendations in the TRC are mostly common sense, about being nice and living with
your neighbours. If you just buy into that, you should be fine. I do not care if youre mining, logging,
renewables. If you really mean that, really live it, then you have much better chances of things
working out.
Kevin:I think the business is still focused primarily on, you know, what drives consultation,
partnership, that type of stuff, um you know, proactive engagement, relationship building that all,
thats part of how weve operated for quite a while and continue to do it.
According to two participants, one of the reasons organizations may be avoiding formal
conversations of reconciliation is government mandates. Evelynand Peterboth described
how provincial/territorial guidelines and positions affect their work.
Evelyn:I am aware of that [FPIC] sentiment and were familiar with the [provincial/territorial]
government duty to consult and thats what guides a lot of regulations. But you have to follow the
process of [provincial/territorial government] so we know that and that guides our work. So, we
consult as soon as possible whenever we workon anyprojects and let the conversations go from there.
Peter:We try to remain as far as possible [away from] land claims rights issues that we do not even
have a position regarding the UN Declaration of Indigenous Rights....[being] a Crown corporation
being so much involved with the government, so much involved with the First Nations. We would
not go further than what the Crown is obligated to do.
The perspectives presented in this section demonstrate that yes, these organizational
representatives have an awareness of the expectations of government and industry that have
been provided by public policy statements albeit superficial. Yet they also seem to indicate
that organizational practices overall are unlikely to change as a result of these public calls for
4.3 Definition of a partnership
Lastly, we asked participants to describe their partnerships with Indigenous peoples. We
used the term partnership, which we now realize reflected our own biases towards the kind of
relations we attempt to enact in our own research program (i.e. co-governance and co-learning
across multiple knowledge systems that embraces the principles of Etuaptmumk). Indeed,
some participant responses showed clear resistance to labelling their relationships in this
way. For many, like John, we would need to prompt this discussion by what we were
considering to be the wide range of business relationships.
Interviewer: For example, are IBAs [Impact Benefit Agreements] partnership? Are equity ownership
strategies, are those true partnerships? How would you define a partnership?
John:We actually consider all of these relationships some type of partnership. Often thats what
the nation wants. Weve been talking with [First Nation]...The last thing they want is equity, they
consider that way too risky. They want cash flow.
Others we spoke to, like Evelyn, strongly advocated for some kind of Indigenous ownership
in renewable energy projects.
Evelyn:I think its really important that [Indigenous communities] either own their projects or part
of their projects...Its important that theyre engaged and that they own those projects ... I know a
lot of companies do Impact Benefit Agreements...Thats just sort of we still want to own that whole
project and reap the benefits from it, heres something we can settle with you. Partnerships, splitting
the ownership of the project, working together, thats the way to go.
Other participants noted how IBAs and similar payments may be the only option for
Indigenous governments and their community members to be involved and benefit, citing a
lack of community capacity and financial capital to be owners or co-owners:
Peter:Im not convinced that ownership and equity sharing is the solution to all matters. . . I think
good partnerships can be done through various types of agreements, depending on the project,
depending on the promoter, depending on the First Nation.
Janelle:The capacity within First Nations is very diverse ... [name] First Nation is another very
strong one. They have their processes; they can clearly articulate what they need and theyre at the
table. And again I find my opinion that some of the other First Nations that may be smaller or less
organized or less sophisticated, they do not know what to ask for, theyre late coming to the table or
they do not come to the table at all and theyre overlooked or theyre left out.
For these participants, partnership included a wider range of understanding than our team
held. For them, partnership could mean a cash settlement to the Indigenous community so the
government or industry could exploit a particular renewable resource, to full Indigenous
ownership with the industry playing a supporting role. The idea that some Indigenous
governments and communities are left outbecause they are worse off than others in terms
of socioeconomic status and health has caused what Andrewcalls a perversepattern of
Andrew:Those First Nations have a much easier time getting grant money than the First Nations
that actually would be a lot weaker, so its kind of perverse. You know, so a very strong First Nation,
they can get money from the federal government.
It is from within those communities with more capacity that Johnrefers to young people
with a big chip on their shoulder[s]. He describes how young Indigenous peoples
recognition of our shared history can make things both easier and more challenging.
John:Some of those up-and-coming young individuals [in communities], some have a big chip on
their shoulder. And not surprisingly. Maybe theyve been listening to their grandparents about
residential schools or the band missed out something because the Indian agents sold out on
the land with a gold mine on it. Knowledge is power and it can leave a bitter taste in your mouth.
[As a developer] Its both easier and more challenging with more knowledge and capacity.
Though he is explaining that knowledge is power, his statement ties the three topics of
education, reconciliation, and partnership together. For us it also suggests something more
unsettling. Although non-Indigenous partners are aware of history and systemic injustice, for
many non-Indigenous peoples like John, it is ultimately a problem that lies with the
Indigenous communities themselves. As the self-perceived more sophisticated partnerin
the relationship, they can continue to run business-as-usual.
or status quo?
5. Discussion
Through interviews with whom we call non-Indigenous partners across Canada, this
research is one of the first scholarly contributions towards uncovering the most common
approaches taken to Indigenous-non-Indigenous collaboration in the countrys renewable
energy sector. By employing Etuaptmumk, our team of Indigenous, non-Indigenous, and
mixed ancestry authors and collaborators were able to co-develop research questions and
interpret findings while honouring multiple ways of knowing.
One of the most glaring, but not surprising, findings was an overly simplified view of
systemic inequality. We see it reflected in low levels of awareness of Indigenous histories and
settler colonialism, and in dismissive attitudes towards important international policy issues
like the TRC, FPIC and the UNDRIP. Participantsstories of [admitted] ignorance of
Indigenous peoples at an early age continues to inform their relationships with Indigenous
perspectives, cultures and contemporary concerns about how settler colonialism is embedded
in government and industry. This reinforces the fact that this is a problem of national
concern, as tokenistic forms of representation and assimilation are presented as meaningful
ways forward (Godlewska et al., 2017;Regan, 2010).
OurworkalsoaddsmorenuancetotheSHARE (2017) report; with findings that indicate all
three components of Call to Action #92 are being ignored in renewable energy. We see this
ignorance in two ways. First, while the people we spoke with self-selected for participation and
often saw themselves as their companysIndigenousissueschampion, they concurrently
engaged in settler moves to innocence (e.g. silencing, non-naming, and using policies to deflect
responsibility). Second, because self-selection for research has been found to be based on
interest in a topic (Khazaal et al., 2014), it is fair tosay that ignorance, disquiet, or distress about
our topic may have played a role in who declined (or ignored) our invitation to participate.
In terms of the value of post-educational experiences, there were some indications of
challenges to settler privilege (Pratt and Danyluk, 2017) through eyes being openedto the
reality of life in Indigenous communities. This was most memorably evidenced by Janelle,
when she told us how stupidshe felt coming to talk about solar panels in the midst of a
community crisis. While there seemed to be value in these personal reflections, without
deeper and more consistent practices of structural reflexivity (which some individuals may be
doing), it will remain difficult for non-Indigenous partnersto centre Indigenous needs,
goals, and experiences in the renewable energy sector.
Most participants showed a misunderstanding of some of the most important
reconciliation frameworks in Canada and/or disregarded their value altogether. The
UNDRIP and the Calls to Action #43 and #92 were often said to be an unnecessary burden.
Their work, stressing more general ideas of consultation, collaboration and mutual
respect, were seen as going far enough. In the case of provincial/territorial mandates,
participants (developers and utilities) spoke of purposefully avoiding the TRC and the
UNDRIP so as to not question the position of government. Feeling as though they are
restricted by, and unable to institutionalize, such clear mandates makes it very evident
that settler colonialism is a powerful force (Campney, 2019). Our findings also echo those of
a study that describes 85% of theCanadian corporate sector as disengaged from reconciliation
discourses (Blackman, 2017).
Being content with status-quo approaches of consultation seemed to have been propelled
by the fact that renewable energy is clean. Projects like wind and solar farms were seen as
being enoughto pass for fair, equitable, and/or sustainable development. We hope to
further sound the alarm made by Smith and Scott (2018) and others (e.g. Cole and Foster, 2001;
Lerner, 2010) regarding new kinds of injustice created by renewable energy. We must
appreciate the dual energy justice challenge (MacArthur and Matthewman, 2018;MacArthur
et al., 2020) and continue to consider whether increases in renewable energy projects will also
address reconciliation efforts (Bickerstaff et al., 2013). Our research demonstrates that they
are unlikely to go very far if they are set within the same arrangement of colonial practices
which expect Indigenous communities to change and adopt more sophisticatedbusiness
How participants defined what should (and should not) be an Indigenous-non-Indigenous
partnership in renewable energy was important. Though participants were diverse and
shaped by their companys focus (Bullock and Zurba, 2017), there was a general agreement
that one-off or otherwise insignificant payments like IBAs were problematic (as in Hitch
and Fidler, 2007). Most stated that genuine partnerships and the benefits that come with them
can only be realized through significant or majority ownership structures (see also Campney,
2019). Of course, this view was complicated by perceived and actual varied levels of
community capacity. Especially in the short-term, it may be that some Indigenous peoples are
only able to invest a small amount in a project or perhaps none at all. In such cases, non-
Indigenous partners can still consider applying reconciliation frameworks that might result
in First Nations, Inuit and M
etis communities controlling development on their territory.
Improving these partnerships will likely involve finding common ground by co-determining
project objectives (Pembina Institute, 2018). New approaches are said to be increasing in the
bioenergy sphere (Bullock and Zurba, 2017), though we need true partnership-based
approaches across all forms of the renewable energy enterprise.
Finally, we recognize contradictory responses were presented across and within
individual responses. For example, at one point Johnreferred to the recommendations in
the TRC as mostly common senseand also described young leaders as having a big chip on
their shoulder[s]in relation to centuries of broken promises, resource and socio-cultural
extraction, underfunding, and continued mistreatment from colonial institutions. However, if
his company was committed to developing reconciled relationships, non-Indigenous partners
might instead ask how young Indigenous leaders experience current-day Indigenous-settler
relations in Canada. If reconciliation really was common sense, they might see acts of
resurgence and resistance as opportunities for economic change, not as roadblocks for status
quo settler-capitalism.
5.1 Limitations and future research
The limitations of this study can provide avenues for future research. First, we acknowledge
that our research only and purposefully sought to speak with non-Indigenous peoples in
renewable energy. From our position as scholars, we have the ability to access influential
elites as insiders who work with an intimate awareness of Indigenous perspectives, albeit
modestly successful in recruiting to this exploratory study. We can leverage our power to
share these findings with Indigenous peoples throughout our networks. Recognizing many
will have experienced these settler moves to innocence on a regular basis from all sectors
we can support their resurgence by providing evidence that confirms and deconstructs what
their encounters look like in renewable energy development. Yet it does not discount the need
for a corresponding study that asks similar questions of Indigenous peoples concerning
reconciliation and partnerships working in the renewable energy sector.
We also ponder how our own propensity towards a specific understanding of reconciliation
may have influenced the questions asked. We could have moved away from the Calls to Action
and UNDRIP to ask more questions about how systematic racism, and more specifically
Canadas ongoing colonial history, is impacting Indigenous governmentsand communities
ability to return to self-determining autonomy. We could have asked how jurisdictional and
policy issues have impacted community ownership and Indigenous sovereignty initiatives. Or
we might have framed the questions differently by talking about engagement as a spectrum of
inclusion or indigenization (Gaudry and Lorenz, 2018) rather than partnership. Related to this
idea of inclusion, in the political ecology of colonization, we could have examined how even
or status quo?
well-meaning attemptsto include Indigenous peoples may be serving to reinforce existing
power structures (as in Medby, 2019, p. 1276). Such alternative approaches may have elicited
responses that were more embedded in the experiences of planning and development
processes. Future research could explore these possibilities.
Finally, though we posed questions concerning settler colonialism, these were often
secondary or follow-ups to general, perhaps comfortable questions, about participants
educational and professional journeys. Learning about Indigenous histories and cultures is
not the same as settlers doing the work of unlearningto confront the violent nature of settler
colonialism and settler complicity in this structure. Indeed, doing so would present a shortcut
to settler innocence. As such, we recommend a deeper commitment to critical questions
moving forward.
Some critics may question the value of our research given our small sample size.
However, there are a limited number of companies and utilities in this space, and most
participants entered this research knowing they may not have answers to some difficult
questions. Those wishing to recruit higher numbers of participants in future research may
wish to seek multiple participants from the same organizations or conduct an online survey
to guarantee anonymity. Still with a sample of 10, we achieved data saturation, and our
study allowed us to access rich and detailed analysis (Crouch and McKenzie, 2006;Legard
et al., 2003).
6. Conclusion
Nearly six years have passed since the publication of the TRCs Final Report and Calls to
Action and the UNDRIP receiving full embrace by Canada, yet it seems little progress has
been made in the renewable energy sector. Shaped by settler colonialism, the participants we
spoke with sometimes saw the need for reconciliation efforts, but these almost always
stopped short of real change in their wider business or utility practices. Perhaps more federal
legislation or instituted penalties, guided by Indigenous governments (think UNDRIP and
FPIC) for non-Indigenous partners who do not abide by Calls to Action #43 and #92, are
We echo the many calls for change in public education curricula across Canada, where the
difficult, but important stories of settler colonialism are only now being integrated into
curricula. However, even as education systems begin to change, there must also be a focus on
corporate and post-secondary education and professional development programs. Given that
educational programming and real-life experiences with Indigenous communities seemed
to influence the non-Indigenous partners we spoke with, there appears to be a tremendous
opportunity to encourage, or mandate, such training and learning in more comprehensive and
ongoing ways. That said, these actions are not enough and do not justify or defend against
ongoing ignorance, settler moves to innocence, unsettling (white) privilege, or inaction; nor
does it ensure the dismantling of structural anti-Indigenous racism and colonialism.
As one participant told us, [First Nations] want to be financially sovereign and
governmentally sovereign, but they also know that as long as they depend on [utilities] for
power, [utilities have] got them by the balls.In other words, utilities are actively trying to
resist movements toward community-level energy independence and sovereignty in order to
retain power. Using the recent example of Wetsuweten Nation and their defence of land
rights in the face of a natural gas pipeline, there is a clear movement toward returning energy
sovereignty to Indigenous Nations within the context of the fossil fuel industry of Canada.
Such movements in renewable energy, however, seem to escape such a storyline. We hope the
findings of this study contribute to changing the narrative of renewable energy development
processes as being more or less immune from the problems of our shared colonial state, and to
help promote goodpartnerships in the near future.
1. What becomes clear during our analysis is that partneris a contested, complicated term; it does not
mean equalin terms of decision-making, as one might think with respect to partnerships where
benefits and losses are shared.
2. Corntassel (2008) describes the rightkind of development as that which is based on Indigenous
values and he then introduces a concept of sustainable self-determination(p. 105).
3. We use samplein the qualitative tradition (see Marshall, 1996) and do not claim to advance
generalizability of the findings, but rather an improved understanding of complex human issues
(p. 524; see also Baxter and Eyles, 1997).
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... Examples in Alberta, across Canada, and globally portray renewable energy developed without regard for Indigenous rights that displace communities from their homelands, render landscapes unrecognizable, and perpetuate colonial systems of resource development in the name of renewable electricity generation (Baird et al., 2021;Finley-Brook & Thomas, 2011;Lawrence, 2014). Increasingly, the 'idyllic' portrayal of renewable energy as an inherently beneficial pathway to achieving a just energy transition is being scrutinized (Walker et al., 2021). This tension is articulated as the 'dual energy justice challenge.' ...
... This tension is articulated as the 'dual energy justice challenge.' Without considerations for justice and equity, the energy transition risks perpetuating the inequities of the very energy system it seeks to transform in the name of renewable electricity generation and climate action (Doyon et al., 2021;Healy & Barry, 2017;MacArthur & Matthewman, 2018;Walker et al., 2021). ...
... Indigenous communities are dynamic, variable in their perspectives and priorities and comprised of many decision makers with a plurality of views on the design and development of community-owned projects. Furthermore, Indigenous-owned renewable energy projects exist within imposed settler colonial systems of governance that limit community-driven decisionmaking, and as such, even projects that are community-owned may lack true community input and control (Campney, 2019;Smith & Scott, 2021;Walker et al., 2021). Scott describes the "internal moral authorities," (2020, p. 481) or Indigenous governance structures such as community organizations, social enterprises, and Elder's councils that are informed by Indigenous legal systems and knowledges, that were eroded through processes of colonialism as community members became accountable to authorities external to and disconnected from communities. ...
Full-text available
Informed by the literature on energy justice and community-owned energy, this study explores perspectives on Indigenous-owned renewable energy in Alberta, Canada. Amidst a pro-oil political and economic environment, several Indigenous-owned renewable energy projects are underway in Alberta. From in-depth interviews with twenty-two key informants who develop, fund, and champion Indigenous-owned renewable energy projects, we explore perspectives on the meanings and significance of ownership and respond to the possibilities and challenges of Indigenous ownership. Specifically, we explore how Indigenous ownership is defined and understood and examine the possibilities and limits of Indigenization within and beyond renewable energy. Results indicate that equity ownership is critical to rewriting legacies of disenfranchisement. Amidst these views we note important insights about the risks associated with “pilot project syndrome” and the need to ensure that projects are not just community-owned but are also community-led. Results also indicate flexible perspectives on Indigenous engagement with the energy sector, indicating ongoing interests in renewable and non-renewable energy projects.
... Whether or not current active projects are contributing to the process of reconciliation is subject to debate [e.g., 5,17,18]. The current blend of legal forms and governance structures that are used in natural resource projects and partnerships vary in the amount of control and benefits guaranteed for the Indigenous community [19]. ...
... Renewable energy for revenue is commonly developed by working in partnership with the renewable energy industry-consultants, utilities, and renewable energy developers to finance and develop renewable energy projects on traditional lands. The ways that partnerships are created and understood is essential to evaluating the current and future potential of reconciliation through renewable energy [18]. Walker et al. [18] explored the potential for renewable energy partnerships between Indigenous communities and businesses and non-Indigenous corporations, business and utilities to contribute to Canada's reconciliation and decolonization efforts by understanding how non-Indigenous peoples working in the renewable energy sector relate to their Indigenous partners. ...
... The ways that partnerships are created and understood is essential to evaluating the current and future potential of reconciliation through renewable energy [18]. Walker et al. [18] explored the potential for renewable energy partnerships between Indigenous communities and businesses and non-Indigenous corporations, business and utilities to contribute to Canada's reconciliation and decolonization efforts by understanding how non-Indigenous peoples working in the renewable energy sector relate to their Indigenous partners. Representatives from non-Indigenous organizations such as developers, provincial and territorial utilities, and government officials, involved in partnerships with Indigenous communities were interviewed. ...
Full-text available
In the literature on community energy, there has been little exploration of how legal forms affect the governance structures employed and resulting impacts to communities. In a settler colonial context like Canada, renewable energy transitions and projects will take place on or near Indigenous traditional territories. In the emerging body of knowledge around Indigenous community involvement in renewable energy the role of the Indigenous economic development corporation (EDCs), a uniquely Indigenous legal form has had little attention. Although a range of governance structures that could support renewable energy projects exist; what has not been explored are which legal forms tend to employ specific governance structures. Employing a national dataset, surveys and interviews, this study assesses the experience and involvement of Indigenous EDCs as a legal form in renewable energy projects, the governance structures EDCs employ, and how these governance structures respond to the needs for self-determination and decision-making power of Indigenous communities. The findings show that at least 26 EDCs are involved in renewable energy projects, that EDCs tend to use economic instruments, while political organizations, (e.g., Band Council), tend to use political instruments, such as impact and benefit agreements (IBAs). Interviewed and surveyed EDCs agreed that ownership of a project is more beneficial than IBAs that tend to be short lived. Although full ownership denotes control over a project, which aligns with UNDRIP, the desired level of ownership varies depending on a variety of factors, such as comfort with risk and how provincial context affects preferred ownership structures.
... According to Lipp and Bale (2018) and Porten and Loe (2014), partnerships with Indigenous people are collaborative processes that often involve different private stakeholders and (or) governments and which impact or are influenced by treaty rights, free, prior, and informed consent, and inherent rights of sovereignty. Further, increasingly, they involve renewable energy projects that emphasize various norms, governance arrangements, roles and responsibilities, as well as decision-making over the distribution of project benefits and costs (Porten and Loe 2014;Walker et al. 2021). In this context, Indigenous people may hold majority (more than 50%) or minority (less than 50%) stakes while sharing benefits from and governance powers for the projects launched on their traditional lands (Hoicka and Das 2021). ...
... Considering this, Bullock et al. (2020) reported that the banking system prevents on-reserve en-trepreneurs and business leaders from pursuing energy development due to land tenure arrangements, cost overruns, and high-risk business loans. Part of the problem is that stakeholders and bankers may not be fully aware of the histories of Indigenous trauma caused by colonial policies and practices and the need for reconciliation (Walker et al. 2021). However, community energy planning is an essential toolkit for assessing energy needs and expectations, where local communities will actively participate in equity ownership and decisionmaking to promote better social outcomes over the long term (Gall 2019; Wyse and Hoicka 2019). ...
... This community faced many challenges in terms of capacity constraints, lack of financial capital, and regulatory barriers during the initial phases of project design and construction (Campney 2019). Subsequently, the First Nation entered into an agreement with Powerhouse Agency to build a hydro project on a stream, but Agency staff could not understand community expectations, and according to some reports, industry partners and government representatives failed to understand the importance of inherent treaty rights, sovereignty, cultural differences, and values of land and water ceremonies of the local First Nations (Fitzgerald and Lovekin 2018;Stefanelli et al. 2019;Walker et al. 2021). The First Nations then switched to the Innergex agency, set new targets, and constructed a hydro project reflecting community values and expectations (Fitzgerald 2018, pp. ...
Full-text available
In this paper, Indigenous engagement in renewable energy projects is reviewed and the main elements of energy partnerships between various stakeholders and Indigenous partners are discussed. In recent years Canada has witnessed more significant Indigenous involvement in economic and energy development projects than ever before. The key components of large-scale energy partnerships focus on community engagement, financial capital, community buy-in (readiness with entrepreneurial and business skills) and benefits-sharing with community partners. Equity-ownership, reconciliation and self-determination intersect with and impact the benefits and sustainability of energy projects as they are interrelated in the framework of most energy partnerships. In addition, this paper illustrates features of energy projects in the literature and policy disconnects in connection with partnership-making, social outcomes, and decision making among Indigenous communities. Furthermore, findings from the literature explore the nuanced discourse on social implications and capacity challenges that interlink with reconciliation when promoting large-scale renewable energy partnerships with Indigenous communities. Through systematic review and meta-analysis of the literature, we found eighty relevant items during the screening process and selected thirty-three for the analysis. Findings demonstrate that the Crown, energy companies and community partners need to coordinate and collaborate closely to achieve energy security and sustainable renewable energy in the near future. The review suggests that Indigenous engagement in energy partnerships supports positive outcomes for social development and environmental protection among Indigenous communities. Further, when government and industry partners mentor in the project implementation process, as well as help other communities, large-scale positive impacts on energy transitions and self-sufficiency can be realized.
... At the heart of environmental and energy justice [31], these kinds of risks in COPs need to be considered in relation to any kind of local decision-making power and benefits citizens might experience [32,33]. Inspired by recent work set within the context of both Free, Prior and Informed Consent [FPIC; 34,35] and locally unwanted land uses, this study is embedded within Nelson It is within this context that we recognize the problem of a continued lack of clarity around the term CE. As a team of authors working in the energy justice space, we address this problem by seeking to understand whether or not there are real differences in the potential benefits 6 of COP, COIs, and hybrid models. ...
... 2] than those living further away or in COIs. This answer of 'yes' is only reinforced within Indigenous contexts, where communities may rightfully demand Free, Prior and Informed Consent regarding any kind of energy development on their traditional land [35]. While the worst of climate change will often be felt far away from CE projects (in the global north in particular), we do not see how these effects are impacted by local communities having more decision-making ability (procedural justice) or financial benefits (distributive justice). ...
... In fact, some have recently argued that when local energy injustice leads to high levels of opposition to specific projects, 16 entire policy programs and developments therein may be threatened [133,134], which reduces our ability to fight climate change and leaves many of the most vulnerable at the mercy of an increasingly warming planet. Just because projects may represent a renewable or clean energy transition, does not mean we should turn a blind eye to issues of autonomy and environmental justice [35]. ...
Following its growing popularity in practice, social scientists have turned their attention to a greater understanding of community energy (CE). Beginning with Walker and Devine-Wright's 2008 framework, researchers have consistently been critical about the use of the term – especially when doing so to further powerful, non-local interests. Unpacking what the ‘community’ in CE means has been of particular interest and a few recent studies have shown that different sets of outcomes largely depend on what definition is used. At the same time, many in this literature have pointed to the value of geographic concepts – for example, characterizing communities as either Communities of Place (COPs) or Communities of Interest (COIs). Yet these two characterizations have largely remained in the background, rather than the focus, of CE studies. Here, we attempt to add conceptual clarity to the term CE by tracing the benefits of COP, COI, and hybrid-based (i.e. a combination) projects. We do so through a qualitative content analysis of 133 research articles from more than 30 countries published from 2010 to 2020. The benefits of COP-based CE (i.e. greater social acceptance, creating ‘energy citizens’) are mostly associated with popular descriptions of CE, while the benefits of COI-based CE were cited as those that address the perceived shortcomings of COP-based CE. Finally, it might be the hybrid approach that can effectively marry both COPs and COIs. More specifically, we find that the order of this ‘marriage’ matters and recommend that approaches centered around Communities of Place, then Interest (COPTI) should be prioritized. The paper closes with a discussion of some possible next steps, in terms of social scientific research and the practice of CE.
... These studies examine the conditions that help promote or create barriers to CRE across a range of urban, rural, and remote contexts. However, given that our study is set within remote Alaska, which is home to mostly Indigenous Native Alaskan peoples, it is important to also acknowledge a quickly growing energy literature focused on Indigenous communities [42][43][44][45][46][47]. ...
... Additional layers of embedded social, political, and historical challenges may amplify barriers but also create novel motivations for CRE (i.e., energy autonomy) transitions within Indigenous communities [46,47]. ...
... The focus on these three conditions does not mean that there are no other factors that may shape CRE outcomes in remote Alaska. Indeed, 4 Here and throughout the paper, we use regional (or region) to describe the eight distinct geographic regions of Alaska (Northern, Northwest, Interior, Western, Southcentral, Southwest, Gulf Cost, and Southeast). the literature is clear on the importance of policy and regulatory frameworks [51], ownership structures [42], renewable energy data and information [52], financial capital [7,45,46], energy and transport infrastructure [36], sociocultural values [45,53], and income/levels of poverty [54]. However, given our exclusive focus on remote communities in Alaska, we were able to either control for many of these factors or determine them a priori to be relatively insignificant. ...
The transition from fossil-fuel based power generation to renewable energy is well underway; however, this transition is highly uneven and not all regions and communities are engaging equally. The circumpolar north is one region where disparities in the uptake of community renewable energy (CRE) projects is evident. Many Northern, remote communities are not connected to national electricity grids and as a result, rely heavily on imported and expensive fuels for power generation. However, within this context, there are places in the US state of Alaska that have forged a leading path toward CRE. This paper investigates why some remote communities develop renewable energy projects while others do not. Using Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA), we compare 24 remote communities in Alaska to identify the combination of explanatory factors that can lead to CRE. We first identified 37 potential conditions, from which we drew three primary explanatory factors: community capacity, electricity subsidies, and pooled resources. Results show the absence of large electricity subsidies is a necessary condition to the development of CRE. It also shows that the presence of subsidies (above a state-wide program) stymies transitions. We also found that particular combinations of the absence of large subsidies, community capacity, and working collaboratively to pool resources across communities, were found to be key explanatory variables in the establishment of CRE. These findings may have implications for other communities both in the Circumpolar North and elsewhere, clarifying the conditions that support CRE development.
... In the context of renewable energy, Walker et al. (2021) in "Non-indigenous partner perspectives on indigenous peoples' involvement in renewable energy: exploring reconciliation as relationships of accountability or status quo innocence?" have explored how renewable energy collaborations can help Canada transcend its colonial history and present by gaining a better understanding of how non-Indigenous people employed in the sector interact with their Indigenous counterparts. ...
... Recycling (relates specifically to industries and emissions), Value creation, Community and Higher education are niche themes that have less development and more relevance with "Recycling" having the highest centrality. Walker et al. (2021) address the themes of education and community building. ...
... Scapens (2004, p. 274) states that when he selects quotations, he ensures that the quotations clearly relate to the points being made. Walker et al. (2021) reveal that they selected quotations "to represent those most poignant to the research context and/or representative of the overall sample of participants". In advising authors to show their data "in a smart fashion", Pratt (2008Pratt ( , 2009 distinguishes between "power quotes" and "proof quotes". ...
Purpose Unlike quantitative studies, interview data generally cannot be validated; yet, they are typically the only evidence of the research. This study develops protocols for using verbatim interview quotations in research and for assessing the quality of interview quotations. Design/methodology/approach This research reviews 20 empirical papers using in-depth interviews containing 600 interview quotations to examine authors' approaches to verbatim interviewee quotations. The research analyses the sample papers for interview transcript handling, selection of quotations, the number and length of interview quotations, how they are placed and presented, the proportion of interviewee voices reproduced in quotations and the disclosure of protocols for translating and editing quotations. This paper includes illustrative interview quotations as exemplars of best practice. Findings Given the modest discussion of the principles influencing the reproduction of quotations in research, this study develops a framework for evaluating prior research. Researchers use a wide variety of practices to reproduce interview quotations in accounting research. The issues derived from this review, and their application to interview-based papers, frame an argument for a general set of quality criteria and protocols rather than rigid rules for assessing qualitative work. These criteria can serve as anchor points for qualitative evaluation. Originality/value There is little guidance on the use of interview quotations in qualitative research which this study bridges.
... The adversarial relationship between firms and IP have been described in terms of: -Industry investments that displace IPs (Boudreaux & Schang, 2019; Ekers, 2019) -Risk management practices that normalize colonial violence (Stanley, 2021) -Economic activities that lead to negative environmental and social impacts (Bostedt, 2001;Brook, 1998;Laduque, 1983 (Kaur & Qian, 2021;Walker et al., 2021) -Perceptions of (in)justice (Murphy & Vives, 2013;Whiteman, 2009) -Heterogeneity within and across IP, in terms of their opinions and position toward an economic activity (Reyes-Garcia et al., 2020) ...
Indigenous Peoples and contexts have offered valuable insights to enrich management and organization theories and literature. Yet, despite their growing prevalence and impact, these insights have not been compiled and synthesized comprehensively. With this article, we provide a systematic and thorough analysis of Indigenous Management and Organization Studies research published over a 90-year period (1932 – 2021) and synthesize this body of work into a multi-dimensional framework, exploring the various features and methodological considerations of Indigenous research. Our analysis reveals that the literature in the field remains fragmented and dispersed across many different subfields and publication outlets, making it challenging for researchers to aggregate, synthesize, and build upon prior works. Our framework integrates insights into recurrent themes and provides a common language to further advance this vitally important field of research. Keywords: Indigenous; Management; Organization; Literature Review
... The adversarial relationship between firms and IP have been described in terms of: -Industry investments that displace IPs (Boudreaux & Schang, 2019; Ekers, 2019) -Risk management practices that normalize colonial violence (Stanley, 2021) -Economic activities that lead to negative environmental and social impacts (Bostedt, 2001;Brook, 1998;Laduque, 1983 (Kaur & Qian, 2021;Walker et al., 2021) -Perceptions of (in)justice (Murphy & Vives, 2013;Whiteman, 2009) -Heterogeneity within and across IP, in terms of their opinions and position toward an economic activity (Reyes-Garcia et al., 2020) ...
This study investigates the conditions that influence organizational success in protecting the legitimacy of large capital investment projects in plural and complex institutional contexts. Following a bottom-up approach, we distinguish and measure the different components that characterize plural and complex institutional contexts. Then, we investigate under which context-specific conditions are different organizational responses linked to low organizational success. Our results show that contexts of volatile complexity lead to low success irrespective of the type of organizational response. Additionally, we find that incompatibility alone, a key feature of complex institutional contexts according to prior research, does not seriously compromise organizational success. Our dataset is comprised of the hearing transcripts of the regulatory review processes of 35 oil pipeline project proposals in Canada (1993 – 2018). Our research design combines topic modelling and fuzzy set Qualitative Comparative Analysis (fsQCA).
Purpose The motivation for this paper comes from Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation’s (TRC) Calls to Action, and in particular, the call for more meaningful consultation and respectful, consent-based relationships between businesses and Indigenous communities in Canada. To this end, this study empirically examines leadership in the context of a wicked problem faced by a pulp and paper mill and suggest an Indigenous epistemology as helpful to inform the leadership behaviours employed in this company. Design/methodology/approach Firstly, this study established that the problem faced by the company aligns with the characteristics of wicked problems, hence necessitating a collective leadership approach. This study then compiled a database from publicly available documents and inductively coded this data to identify themes that told us something about the leadership behaviours employed by the company as it attempted to resolve the problem at hand. Findings This study provides evidence that the company did not employ collective leadership when attempting to tame its wicked problem. It then shows that the context in which the firm operates lends itself well to the Mi’kmaw concept of Two-Eyed Seeing as a guiding principle that could have informed the company’s leadership and contributed to a long-overdue process of reconciliation. This study proposes several specific actions that plausibly could have helped produce such an outcome. Originality/value This paper helps fill a void in applications of the wicked problem construct to businesses. Further, this study suggests that the problem faced by this firm remained difficult to tame precisely because it failed to employ a collective leadership approach. The contribution to the leadership literature comes from introducing Two-Eyed Seeing and showing how it may help produce leadership that is inherently more collective in nature. Beyond its instrumental value, this approach may nurture more consent-based relationships between businesses and Indigenous communities in Canada, as called for by the TRC, hence contributing to reconciliation with a long-suffering neighbouring Indigenous community.
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Research that focuses on Indigenous street gangs is primarily derived from the experiences and expertise of individuals who work in the criminal justice system or community-based organizations and not street gang members themselves (Grekul & LaRocque, 2011). The primary reason for this is that it is difficult to build research relationships with individuals who, for the majority of their lives, have tried to keep their lives hidden from those who they consider as outsiders. However, it is these narratives of those who have been directly involved with street gangs that provide the greatest insight into what attracts individuals to join, the realities of street gang life, and what is needed to support individuals to exit street gangs. The current article examines how relational accountability framed within the 4Rs (Kirkness & Barnhardt, 1991) was used to engage in a photovoice research project that focused on how Indigenous male ex-gang members came to construct their notions of masculinity within local street gangs. To engage the men in the research, relationships were built with STR8 UP, a community-based gang intervention program located in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. By building relationships, the foundational components to Indigenous research, trust between researcher and participants was established where modifications within the research methods could occur to engage the men’s participation more fully. The current article also examines the importance of critical reflexivity within relational accountability, as it provides researchers with a tool to understand their social privileges and how this can impact the research process
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Community led planning is necessary for Inuit to self-determine on their lands and to ensure the preservation of cultural landscapes and the sustainability of social-ecological systems that they are a part of. The sustainability efforts of three Inuit communities in Labrador during a Community Governance and Sustainability Initiative were guided by a decolonized and strength-based planning framework, including the values of Inuit in this study. This paper demonstrates that Inuit led planning efforts can strengthen community sustainability planning interests and potential. We situate the experiences of NunatuKavut Inuit within, and contribute to, the existing body of scholarly decolonization and sustainability literature. For many Indigenous people, including Inuit, decolonization is connected to inherent rights to self-determination. The findings suggest that decolonizing efforts must be understood and actualized within an Indigenous led research and sustainability planning paradigm that facilitates autonomous decision making and that is place based. Further, this study illustrates five predominant results regarding Inuit in planning for community sustainability that support sustainable self-determination. These include: inter and cross community sharing; identification of community strengths; strengthened community capacity; re-connection to community and culture; and the possibility for identification of sustainability goals to begin implementation through community led governance and planning processes.
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A global movement is underway to harness the power of coordinated state policy to address the significant and interrelated challenges of environmental degradation, climate change, poverty, and energy insecurity. In May 2019 a grassroots coalition comprising a range of civil society groups—scientists, labour unions, Indigenous peoples, and youth—launched the Pact for a Green New Deal (PGND) in Canada, with more than 150 town hall meetings across the country. Participants called for 100% renewable energy, phase out of the oil sands, a 50% reduction in emissions by 2030, and the creation of 1 million new green jobs and reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples [1]. A significant reorientation to the scale and direction of government expenditure, as happened in the American New Deal of the 1930s, can spur technical innovation but can also exacerbate inequalities. A Canadian green transition is significant globally given its high energy production, exports, and internal use. In this perspective piece we examine the transformative potential of a Canadian PGND by focusing on the social and political characteristics of energy infrastructure: the potential for 100% renewable energy, transitions for oil sands, energy democracy, Indigenous energy leadership, gender equity, and energy poverty. The actor coalitions emerging from these then forge specific energy transition pathways, whether just and inclusive, or not. The Canadian case highlights the complexities and opportunities that accompany countries with large geographies, fraught geo-political histories, strong federalism, inequalities of access to clean affordable energy, and an abundance of renewable energy.
Although there is a clear positive link between community wind energy (CWE) projects and social acceptance, there is still empirical and conceptual ambiguity concerning the details of why. To fill this gap, we revisit foundational papers in this field and then, focusing on empirical case studies between 2010 and 2018 (n = 15), trace how recent research has engaged with existing conceptual frameworks. Most empirical researchers verify the importance of the two key dimensions defined by Walker & Devine-Wright [1]: process and outcome, and then relate this to procedural justice and distributive justice. Meanwhile, the core concept of “community” has been deployed, in both practice and research, in so many different and sometimes ambiguous ways that it remains difficult to assert if, and how, community-based renewable energy policy and siting practice produces high levels of local community acceptance. We suggest that parsing out the scale of investment in wind energy projects and the local historical context of energy transitions add clarity to the Walker & Devine-Wright framework as it relates to CWE; providing important conceptual nuance for guiding policy, developer practices and future empirical research.
Of 259 off-grid communities in Canada, 190 remain almost exclusively dependent on diesel-fuel for electricity generation. While a growing body of literature demonstrates the economic, environmental, and societal challenges of diesel-fired electricity, there is limited research which seeks to understand Indigenous perspectives on off-grid energy systems, despite the fact that the majority of off-grid communities identify as First Nations, Inuit, or Métis (65% or n = 169). By partnering with the NunatuKavut Community Council (NCC), this research aims to privilege the perspectives of NunatuKavut Inuit who live in the diesel-dependent communities of Black Tickle, St. Lewis, and Norman Bay in southeast Labrador. Our mixed-methods research involved community-member interviews (n = 75) and key informant interviews (n = 7). A key finding is that community-members value socio-economic contributions of diesel-generation such as employment, reliability, familiarity, and contributions to community-resilience – while also expressing concern about environmental degradation and the risk of fuel spills affecting livelihoods. Primary energy-system concerns relate to heat insecurity, and energy systems dependent on external control, support, and imports. By privileging voices of Inuit in these diesel-dependent communities, we were able to locate community identified strengths associated with local energy systems, while shifting focus to what community-members perceive as the most pressing energy-related challenges in their communities.
Purpose The purpose of this short paper is to comment on the powerful contribution researchers have made to the emerging field of Indigenous O&M scholarship. Design/methodology/approach The paper reviews the work in the field of Indigenous O&M. Findings Indigenous O&M research, first, has been driven by the effects of colonization and the attempts to reclaim traditional ways of researching, organizing and managing; second; has sought asylum in established critical and alternative fields of scholarship to create research legitimacy in the mainstream, and; third, produced novel methodological processes. Originality/value Several observations of the field will be made and some considerations are put forward to promote research within the tight – almost impenetrable – boundaries of the academy and its institutions.
In 2008, Walker and Devine-Wright published a short article that is now a key way-marker in the field: ‘Community renewable energy: what should it mean?’. A decade on, in this Perspective we revisit Walker and Devine-Wright’s paper to re-examine its central themes and to identify opportunities for the coming ten years of community renewable energy (CRE) studies. Our Perspective takes the form of a series of paired reflections from the authors of the original paper and three early career researchers whose work it has influenced. We present these reflections in three themes. First, despite its title, the 2008 article itself is not centrally concerned with meanings, still less what CRE should mean. CRE is always defined by its context, therefore, we argue for an approach that is alive to these contexts. Second, while the article splits ‘process’ and ‘outcome’ when conceptualising interpretations of CRE, research labelling elements of CRE as either ‘process’ or ‘outcome’ can obscure CRE’s complex and entangled dynamics. Third, the past decade of scholarship emerging in this article’s wake has tended to concentrate on the means by which CRE develops, rather than on its ends. There is a need for greater attention on the impacts of CRE, particularly its role in achieving just transitions. We propose that new approaches could further galvanise the study of CRE to help better understand what CRE does, for whom and in what contexts.