perspectives on Indigenous
peoples’involvement in renewable
energy: exploring reconciliation as
relationships of accountability or
status quo innocence?
Chad J.R. Walker
Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada
Mary Beth Doucette
Cape Breton University, Sydney, Canada
York University, Toronto, Canada
Western University, London, Canada
Hannah Tait Neufeld
University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Canada, and
Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada
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
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
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
potential barriers to reconciliation that are naı€vely 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
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” 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 Canada’s 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
environment”and espouses “free, prior, and informed consent”for 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 “right”kind  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 Commission’s (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 partners’experiences 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 report’s 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
“consistency”alternative 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 it”and “move on”and 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 Yang’s (2012) “settler moves to innocence”to 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 challenge”of
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
2.1 Indigenous peoples’involvement in renewable energy in Canada
Scholarship concerning Indigenous peoples’engagement 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
technology”companies 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 employees’Indigenous awareness, education, and intercultural
While the aforementioned literature helps us to understand some general trends, there is a
lack of scholarship associated with our study’s 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 TRC’s 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 “Indigenize”post-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. 305–306) 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 engagement”in 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
Campney’s (2019) calls for future research, which asks for greater understanding of
Indigenous ownership in renewable energy.
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;
http://asharedfuture.ca/)], 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 Queen’s 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
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-back”email from a large corporation’s
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
“Michelle”Developer (ON) 35, Female
“John”Developer (AB) 60, Male
“Andrew" Developer (NS) 43, Male
“Evelyn”Developer (ON) 28, Female
“Ross”Developer (BC) 36, Male
”Matthew”[Community] Developer 55, Male
“Peter”Provincial/Territorial Utility 45, Male
“Kevin”Provincial/Territorial Utility 50, Male
“Janelle" Provincial/Territorial Utility 43, Female
“Chris" Project management (BC) 37, Male
List of participants
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 Tracy’s (2010) eight “Big-Tent”criteria for excellent
qualitative research (i.e. resonance and meaningful coherence).
We begin here with the participants’understanding of their own formal and informal
education related to Indigenous peoples and issues of settler colonialism. We then share
participants’thoughts 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 peoples’histories 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 Canada’s historical and ongoing
oppressive relationship with Indigenous peoples. Participants’quotes 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, “there’s [still] so much to learn”.
“Andrew”:I’d say pre-2012 I had zero exposure and knowledge to First Nations. I’ve learned a bit but
there’s so much to learn, it’s mind boggling. All these different communities, different languages...
different histories, different stories.
When asked about more specific educational memories, “Evelyn”and “Janelle”discussed
their lack of understanding regarding Indigenous peoples’histories.
“Evelyn”:Really limited to be honest. I grew up in a really small community...And so, I do not know,
it wasn’t 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 wasn’t a lot taught about, I wasn’t 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 peoples’worldviews. One example comes from “Janelle”whose
eyes were opened during what she called mandatory ‘Aboriginal training’at 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, “John”recalled 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 it’s 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 “cool”without seeing
the oppressive structural inequity it created. In another story of unlearning first-hand,
“Janelle”told 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 they’re 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 it’s so dark on our reserve, places are no longer safe’. Imagine
how stupid we feel when we’re like ‘oh, let’s install solar panels’. And I think that comes back
sometimes to the paternalistic role of the white man or the settlers.
Meanwhile “Kevin”described 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 history...it 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 UNDRIP’s FPIC and the TRC’s 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 “Ross”and
“Michelle”, indicate their organizations have been practicing these principles long before the
UNDRIP or the TRC.
“Ross”:We’ve 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 what’s included with UNDRIP and TRC is built into [COMPANY NAME] ’s
mandate. Just this idea of free and informed prior consent, that’s what we’re all about, so yeah it’s
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 we’re on the right path.
Yet when asked for tangible examples of how the TRC or UNDRIP affects their company’s
daily operations (i.e. meetings, corporate mission statements) most participants could not
“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 I’m passionate about so I’m trying to bring in
those Calls to Action to the company
“Kevin”:I do not think so, not yet, it’s uh, you know it’s not something we talk about a lot out here in
[our province/territory], um at least in my environment, it’s something I’m actually working on as
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. “John”and “Chris”explained 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 peoples’health (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. I’m actually preparing to do a luncheon for international Indigenous
people’s 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. There’s 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”:I’d say at this point in time [UNDRIP and the TRC] have not affected how we do business.
Whether or not that’s the case in two years or five years, it’s 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 “Janelle”does not
connect the business of energy with reconciliation or UNDRIP:
“Janelle”:The work that I’m involved in does not [relate to UNDRIP or the TRC] because it’s about
energy and when we need energy. So, it does not matter about UNDRIP or reconciliation. That does
not drive the work that I’m doing. It’s separate from that.
When asked about commitments to reconciliation, UNDRIP, the TRC, and even this much
broader idea of corporate social responsibility, “John”and “Kevin”mentioned 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 you’re mining, logging,
renewables. If you really mean that, really live it, then you have much better chances of things
“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,
that’s part of how we’ve 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. “Evelyn”and “Peter”both described
how provincial/territorial guidelines and positions affect their work.
“Evelyn”:I am aware of that [FPIC] sentiment and we’re familiar with the [provincial/territorial]
government duty to consult and that’s 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 that’s what
the nation wants. We’ve 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 it’s really important that [Indigenous communities] either own their projects or part
of their projects...It’s important that they’re engaged and that they own those projects ... I know a
lot of companies do Impact Benefit Agreements...That’s just sort of ’we still want to own that whole
project and reap the benefits from it, here’s something we can settle with you’. Partnerships, splitting
the ownership of the project, working together, that’s 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”:I’m 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 they’re 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, they’re late coming to the table or
they do not come to the table at all and they’re overlooked or they’re 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 out”because they are worse off than others in terms
of socioeconomic status and health –has caused what “Andrew”calls a “perverse”pattern 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 it’s 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 “John”refers 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 they’ve 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] It’s 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 partner”in
the relationship, they can continue to run business-as-usual.
or status quo?
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 country’s 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. Participants’stories 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 company’sIndigenousissues“champion”, 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 opened”to the
reality of life in Indigenous communities. This was most memorably evidenced by “Janelle”,
when she told us how “stupid”she 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 “partners”to 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 “enough”to 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 “sophisticated”business
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 company’s 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 “John”referred to the recommendations in
the TRC as “mostly common sense”and 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
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
Canada’s ongoing colonial history, is impacting Indigenous governments’and 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 attempts”to 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 ’unlearning’to 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
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).
Nearly six years have passed since the publication of the TRC’s 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 Wet’suwet’en 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 ‘good’partnerships in the near future.
1. What becomes clear during our analysis is that “partner”is a contested, complicated term; it does not
mean “equal”in terms of decision-making, as one might think with respect to partnerships where
benefits and losses are shared.
2. Corntassel (2008) describes the “right”kind 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 “sample”in 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).
4. A judgement sample is a group actively recruited to answer research questions and is based largely
on an intellectual rather than demographic strategy (Marshall, 1996).
Anderson, R., Kayseas, B., Dana, L.P. and Hindle, K. (2004), “Indigenous land claims and economic
development: the Canadian experience”,American Indian Quarterly, Vol. 28 Nos 3/4, pp. 634-648.
Bak, G., Bradford, T., Loyer, J. and Walker, E. (2017), “Four views on archival decolonization inspired
by the TRC’s calls to action”,Fonds d’Archives, Vol. 1, pp. 1-21.
Bartlett, C., Marshall, M. and Marshall, A. (2012), “Two-eyed seeing and other lessons learned within a
co-learning journey of bringing together Indigenous and mainstream knowledges and ways of
knowing”,Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, Vol. 2 No. 4, pp. 331-340.
Battiste, M. (Ed.) (2016), Visioning a Mi’kmaw Humanities: Indigenizing the Academy, Cape Breton
University Press, Sydney, Nova Scotia.
Baxter, J. and Eyles, J. (1997), “Evaluating qualitative research in social geography: establishing
’rigour’in interview analysis”,Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, Vol. 22 No. 4,
Baxter, J., Walker, C., Ellis, G., Devine-Wright, P., Adams, M. and Smith-Fullerton, R. (2020), “Scale,
history and justice in community wind energy: an empirical review”,Energy Research and
Social Science, No. 68, pp. 1-12, 101532.
Bechtel, W. and Richardson, R. (1993), Discovering Complexity: Decomposition and Localization in
Scientific Research, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, NJ.
Bickerstaff, K., Walker, G. and Bulkeley, H. (Eds) (2013), Energy Justice in a Changing Climate: Social
Equity and Low-Carbon Energy, Zed Books, London.
Blackman, J. (2017), Researching Indigenous Partnerships: An Assessment of Corporate-Indigenous
Relations, [Commissioned Research Report], Indigenous Works, Ottawa, p. 94.
Bullock, R. and Zurba, M. (2017), Framings of Indigenous Partnerships in Energy and Allied Renewable
Resource Sectors, Final Knowledge Synthesis Report to SSHRC, Centre for Forest
Interdisciplinary Research, The University of Winnipeg, Winnipeg.
Bullock, R., Boerchers, M. and Kirchhoff, D. (2019), “Analyzing control, capacities, and benefits in
Indigenous natural resource partnerships in Canada”,Environmental Practice, Vol. 21 No. 2,
Campbell, D. (2011), “More than wind: evaluating renewable energy opportunities for first nations in
Nova Scotia and New Brunswick”,Aboriginal Policy Research Consortium International, No. 206,
Campney, A. (2019), Indigenous Participation in Clean Energy Activities in Canada: Passive
Participation or ‘Community Energy’?, Major Paper for partial fulfillment of Master’s degree,
York University, Toronto.
Castleden, H., Daley, K., Sloan Morgan, V. and Sylvestre, P. (2013), “Settlers unsettled: using field
schools and digital stories to transform geographies of ignorance about Indigenous peoples in
Canada”,Journal of Geography in Higher Education, Vol. 37 No. 4, pp. 487-499.
or status quo?
Charmaz, K. and Belgrave, L. (2012), “Qualitative interviewing and grounded theory analysis”,The
SAGE Handbook of Interview Research: The Complexity of the Craft, Vol. 2, pp. 347-365.
Cole, L. and Foster, S. (2001), From the Ground up: Environmental Racism and the Rise of the
Environmental Justice Movement, NYU Press, New York, NY.
Corntassel, J. (2008), “Toward sustainable self-determination: rethinking the contemporary
Indigenous-rights discourse”,Alternatives, Vol. 33 No. 1, pp. 105-132.
Creamer, E., Aiken, G.T., van Veelen, B., Walker, G. and Devine-Wright, P. (2019), “Community
renewable energy: what does it do? Walker and Devine-Wright (2008) ten years on”,Energy
Research and Social Science, Vol. 57.
Crouch, M. and McKenzie, H. (2006), “The logic of small samples in interview-based qualitative
research”,Social Science Information, Vol. 45 No. 4, pp. 483-499.
Fairclough, N. and Wodak, R. (1997), “Critical discourse analysis”,Discourse Studies: A
Multidisciplinary Introduction, No. 2, pp. 258-284.
Fields-Lefkovic, A. (2012), “Eliminating restrictions to Indigenous development of wind and solar
power”,The Cornell Roosevelt Institute Policy Journal, Vol. 6, pp. 6-9.
Fitzgerald, E. (2018), Powering Self-Determination: Indigenous Renewable Energy Developments in
British Columbia, Doctoral dissertation, University of Victoria, Victoria.
Gaudry, A. and Lorenz, D. (2018), “Indigenization as inclusion, reconciliation, and decolonization:
navigating the different visions for indigenizing the Canadian Academy”,Alternative: An
International Journal of Indigenous Peoples, Vol. 14 No. 3, pp. 218-227.
Gee, J.P. (2004), An Introduction to Discourse Analysis: Theory and Method, Routledge, London.
Godlewska, A., Moore, J. and Bednasek, C. (2010), “Cultivating ignorance of aboriginal realities”,The
Canadian Geographer/Le G
eographe Canadien, Vol. 54 No. 4, pp. 417-440.
Godlewska, A., Massey, J., Adjei, J. and Moore, J. (2013), “The unsustainable nature of ignorance:
measuring knowledge to effect social change first results of an on-line survey of aboriginal
knowledge at Queen’s university”,The Canadian Journal of Native Studies, Vol. 33 No. 1, p. 65.
Godlewska, A., Schaefli, L., Massey, J., Freake, S., Adjei, J., Rose, J. and Hudson, C. (2017), “What do
first-year university students in Newfoundland and Labrador know about Aboriginal
peoples and topics?”,The Canadian Geographer/Le G
eographe Canadien, Vol. 61 No. 4,
Greenwood, M., De Leeuw, S. and Lindsay, N.M. (Eds) (2018), Determinants of Indigenous Peoples’
Health: Beyond the Social, Canadian Scholars, Toronto, Ontario.
Guest, G., Bunce, A. and Johnson, L. (2006), “How many interviews are enough? An experiment with
data saturation and variability”,Field Methods, Vol. 18 No. 1, pp. 59-82.
Hajizadeh, M., Hu, M., Bombay, A. and Asada, Y. (2018), “Socioeconomic inequalities in health among
Indigenous peoples living off-reserve in Canada: trends and determinants”,Health Policy,
Vol. 122 No. 8, pp. 854-865.
Helin, C. (2014), Dances with Dependency: Out of Poverty through Self-Reliance, Open Road Media,
New York, NY.
Henderson, C. (2013), Aboriginal Power: Clean Energy and the Future of Canada’s First Peoples,
Hennink, M., Kaiser, B. and Marconi, V. (2017), “Code saturation versus meaning saturation: how
many interviews are enough?”,Qualitative Health Research, Vol. 27 No. 4, pp. 591-608.
Hira, A. (2020), “Why B.C. should reopen clean energy opportunities for Indigenous communities”,
The Conversation, available at: https://theconversation.com/why-b-c-should-reopen-clean-
energy-opportunities-for-indigenous-communities-133504 (accessed 22 June 2020).
Hitch, M. and Fidler, C. (2007), “Impact and benefit agreements: a contentious issue for environmental
and aboriginal justice”,Environments Journal, Vol. 35 No. 2, pp. 45-69.
Hudson, A. and Vodden, K. (2020), “Decolonizing pathways to sustainability: lessons learned
from three Inuit communities in NunatuKavut, Canada”,Sustainability, Vol. 12 No. 11, p. 4419.
Indigenous Clean Energy (ICE) (2018), “Indigenous clean energy projects –map”,LUMOS Energy,
available at: https://indigenouscleanenergy.com/ice-projects/ (accessed 15 November 2018).
Jenkins, K., McCauley, D., Heffron, R., Stephan, H. and Rehner, R. (2016), “Energy justice: a conceptual
review”,Energy Research and Social Science, Vol. 11, pp. 174-182.
Kairos Canada (2018), “Trailblazer: T’sou-ke first nation solar and greenhouse initiatives”, available
(accessed 25 June 2020).
Karanasios, K. and Parker, P. (2018), “Tracking the transition to renewable electricity in remote
Indigenous communities in Canada”,Energy Policy, Vol. 118, pp. 169-181.
Khazaal, Y., Van Singer, M., Chatton, A., Achab, S., Zullino, D., Rothen, S., Khan, R., Billieux, J. and
Thorens, G. (2014), “Does self-selection affect samples’representativeness in online surveys?
An investigation in online video game research”,Journal of Medical Internet Research, Vol. 16
No. 7, p. 164.
Krupa, J. (2012a), “Identifying barriers to aboriginal renewable energy deployment in Canada”,Energy
Policy, Vol. 42, pp. 710-714.
Krupa, J. (2012b), “Blazing a new path forward: a case study on the renewable energy initiatives of the
Pic River First Nation”,Environmental Development, Vol. 3, pp. 109-122.
Krupa, J., Galbraith, L. and Burch, S. (2015), “Participatory and multi-level governance: applications to
Aboriginal renewable energy projects”,Local Environment, Vol. 20 No. 1, pp. 81-101.
Kurasaki, K. (2000), “Intercoder reliability for validating conclusions drawn from open-ended
interview data”,Field Methods, Vol. 12 No. 3, pp. 179-194.
Lawrence, R. (2014), “Internal colonisation and Indigenous resource sovereignty: wind power
developments on traditional Saami lands”,Environment and Planning D: Society and Space,
Vol. 32 No. 6, pp. 1036-1053.
LeBlanc, D. (2012), “Envisioning a contemporary Indigenous curriculum in Ontario: exploring ways in
which to achieve decolonization within the restraints of educational public policy”,Social Policy,
Vol. 3 No. 1, pp. 47-66.
Legard, R., Keegan, J. and Ward, K. (2003), “In-depth interviews”,Qualitative Research Practice: A
Guide for Social Science Students and Researchers, Vol. 6 No. 1, pp. 138-169.
Lerner, S. (2010), Sacrifice Zones: The Front Lines of Toxic Chemical Exposure in the United States,
MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.
Love, T. (2019), “Indigenous knowledges, priorities and processes in qualitative organization and
management research: state of the field”,Qualitative Research in Organizations and
Management: An International Journal, Vol. 15 No. 1, pp. 6-20.
Lowan-Trudeau, G. (2017), “Indigenous environmental education: the case of renewable energy
projects”,Educational Studies, Vol. 53 No. 6, pp. 601-613.
MacArthur, J. and Matthewman, S. (2018), “Populist resistance and alternative transitions: Indigenous
ownership of energy infrastructure in Aotearoa New Zealand”,Energy Research and Social
Science, Vol. 43, pp. 16-24.
MacArthur, J., Hoicka, C., Castleden, H., Das, R. and Lieu, J. (2020), “Canada’s green new deal: forging
the socio-political foundations of climate resilient infrastructure?”,Energy Research and Social
Science, Vol. 65, p. 101442.
Madden, B. (2015), “Pedagogical pathways for Indigenous education with/in teacher Education”,
Teaching and Teacher Education, Vol. 51, pp. 1-15.
Marshall, M. (1996), “Sampling for qualitative research”,Family Practice, Vol. 13 No. 6, pp. 522-526.
or status quo?
Mawhinney, J. (1998), Giving up the Ghost’: Disrupting the (re)Production of White Privilege in Anti-
Racist Pedagogy and Organizational Change, Masters Thesis, Ontario Institute for Studies in
Education of the University of Toronto, Toronto.
McCreary, T. and Turner, J. (2018), “The contested scales of Indigenous and settler jurisdiction:
unist’ot’en struggles with Canadian pipeline governance”,Studies in Political Economy, Vol. 99
No. 3, pp. 223-245.
Medby, I. (2019), “State discourses of Indigenous ‘inclusion’: identity and representation in the arctic”,
Antipode, Vol. 51 No. 4, pp. 1276-1295.
Mercer, N., Parker, P., Hudson, A. and Martin, D. (2020), “Off-grid energy sustainability in
Nunatukavut, Labrador: centering Inuit voices on heat insecurity in diesel-powered
communities”,Energy Research and Social Science, Vol. 62, p. 101382.
Morgan, D. (1993), “Qualitative content analysis: a guide to paths not taken”,Qualitative Health
Research, Vol. 3 No. 1, pp. 112-121.
Murphy, J. and Smith, A. (2013), “Understanding transition—periphery dynamics: renewable energy
in the highlands and islands of Scotland”,Environment and Planning A, Vol. 45 No. 3,
National Forum on Reconciliation (NRF) (2016), Sharing the Land, Sharing a Future: Report on a
National Forum on Reconciliation - Marking the 20th Anniversary of the Royal Commission on
Aboriginal Peoples, Ottawa.
Ozog, S. (2012), Towards First Nations energy Self-Sufficiency: Analyzing the Renewable Energy
Partnership between Tsou-Ke Nation and Skidegate Band, Master’s thesis, University of
Northern British Columbia.
Pembina Institute (2018), “Renewable energy partnerships and project economics”, available at:
2 May 2019).
Phillips, N. and Hardy, C. (2002), Discourse Analysis: Investigating Processes of Social Construction,
Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA, Vol. 50.
Pratt, Y. and Danyluk, P. (2017), “Learning what schooling left out: making an Indigenous case for
critical service-learning and reconciliatory pedagogy within teacher education”,Canadian
Journal of Education, Vol. 40 No. 1.
Regan, P. (2010), Unsettling the Settler within: Indian Residential Schools, Truth Telling, and
Reconciliation in Canada, UBC Press, Vancouver, British Columbia.
Rezaei, M. and Dowlatabadi, H. (2016), “Off-grid: community energy and the pursuit of self-sufficiency
in British Columbia’s remote and First Nations communities”,Local Environment, Vol. 21 No. 7,
Richmond, C. and Cook, C. (2016), “Creating conditions for Canadian aboriginal health equity: the
promise of healthy public policy”,Public Health Reviews, Vol. 37 No. 1, p. 2.
Russell, D. (2011), A People’s Dream: Aboriginal Self-Government in Canada, UBC Press, Vancouver,
Sanders, C. and Cuneo, C. (2010), “Social reliability in qualitative team research”,Sociology, Vol. 44
No. 2, pp. 325-343.
Sandlos, J. and Keeling, A. (2016), “Aboriginal communities, traditional knowledge, and the
environmental legacies of extractive development in Canada”,The Extractive Industries and
Society, Vol. 3 No. 2, pp. 278-287.
Schaefli, L. and Godlewska, A. (2014), “Social ignorance and Indigenous exclusion: public voices in the
province of Quebec, Canada”,Settler Colonial Studies, Vol. 4 No. 3, pp. 227-244.
Schreier, M. (2014), “Ways of doing qualitative content analysis: disentangling terms and
Terminologies”,Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung/Forum: Qualitative Social Research,
Vol. 15 No. 1.
Schultz, K. (2017), Leading the Way to Sustainability: a First Nation’s Case Study in Self-Sufficiency,
Master’s Thesis, Royal Roads University.
Scott, D. and Smith, A. (2016), “Sacrifice zones in the green energy economy: the new climate
refugees”,Transnational Law and Contemporary Problems, Vol. 26, p. 371.
SHARE (2017), “Business and Reconciliation: how can investors evaluate the efforts of Canadian
public companies?”, available at: https://share.ca/documents/investor_briefs/Social/2017/
companies.pdf (accessed 11 December 2018).
Smith, A. and Scott, D. (2018), “’Energy without injustice’? Indigenous ownership of renewable energy
generation, Indigenous ownership of renewable energy generation”, in Atapattu, G. and Sara, S.
(Eds), Environmental Justice, Sustainable Development and the Social Pillar.
Sotiriadou, P., Brouwers, J. and Le, T. (2014), “Choosing a qualitative data analysis tool: a comparison
of NVivo and Leximancer”,Annals of Leisure Research, Vol. 17 No. 2, pp. 218-234.
Sovacool, B. (2014), “What are we doing here? Analyzing fifteen years of energy scholarship and
proposing a social science research agenda”,Energy Research and Social Science,
Vol. 1, pp. 1-29.
Sovacool, B. and Dworkin, M. (2015), “Energy justice: conceptual insights and practical applications”,
Applied Energy, Vol. 142, pp. 435-444.
Stefanelli, R.D., Walker, C., Kornelsen, D., Lewis, D., Martin, D.H., Masuda, J., Richmond, C.A., Root, E.,
Tait Neufeld, H. and Castleden, H. (2018), “Renewable energy and energy autonomy: how
Indigenous peoples in Canada are shaping an energy future”,Environmental Reviews, Vol. 27
No. 1, pp. 95-105.
Sylvestre, P., Castleden, H., Denis, J., Martin, D. and Bombay, A. (2019), “The tools at their fingertips:
how settler colonial geographies shape medical educators’strategies for grappling with Anti-
Indigenous racism”,Social Science and Medicine, Vol. 237, 112363.
Tracy, S. (2010), “Qualitative quality: eight ‘big-tent’criteria for excellent qualitative research”,
Qualitative Inquiry, Vol. 16 No. 10, pp. 837-851.
Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada (2015), “Honouring the truth, reconciling for
the future (summary)”, available at: http://nctr.ca/reports.php (accessed 16 March 2019).
Tuck, E. and Yang, K.W. (2012), “Decolonization is not a metaphor”,Decolonization: Indigeneity,
Education and Society, Vol. 1 No. 1, pp. 1-40.
United Nations (UN) (2019), “United nations declaration on the rights of Indigenous peoples”, available
11/UNDRIP_E_web.pdf (accessed 28 March 2019).
Walker, C. and Baxter, J. (2017), “Procedural justice in Canadian wind energy development: a
comparison of community-based and technocratic siting processes”,Energy Research and Social
Science, Vol. 29, pp. 160-169.
Walker, C., Alexander, A., Doucette, M.B., Lewis, D., Neufeld, H.T., Martin, D. ... and Castleden, H.
(2019), “Are the pens working for justice? News media coverage of renewable energy involving
Indigenous Peoples in Canada”,Energy Research and Social Science, Vol. 57, 101230.
Walters, M. (2008), “The jurisprudence of multicultural societies”, in Kymlicka, W. and Bashir, B.
(Eds), The Politics of Reconciliation in Multicultural Societies, Oxford University Press, Oxford,
Wuttunee, W. (2010), Aboriginal Perspectives on the Social Economy, Co-operatives, and Community
Economic Development, Emond Montgomery Press, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Wylie, H. (2017), “Towards a genealogy of reconciliation in Canada”,Journal of Canadian Studies,
Vol. 51 No. 3, pp. 601-635.
or status quo?
Henry, R. and Tait, C. (2016), “Creating ethical research partnerships–relational accountability in
action”,Engaged Scholar Journal: Community-Engaged Research, Teaching, and Learning,
Vol. 2 No. 1, pp. 183-204.
Lancaster, K. (2017), “Confidentiality, anonymity and power relations in elite interviewing: conducting
qualitative policy research in a politicised domain”,International Journal of Social Research
Methodology, Vol. 20 No. 1, pp. 93-103.
Heather Castleden can be contacted at: Heather.Castleden@queensu.ca
For instructions on how to order reprints of this article, please visit our website:
Or contact us for further details: firstname.lastname@example.org