Porcupine Podcast

Porcupine Podcast

Exploring Reconciliation through Clean Energy in Indigenous Communities

May 19, 2021

Professor Diana Lewis and Professor Heather Castleden are frustrated that First Nations still get resistance from big power utilities when they want to build renewable energy projects. For them and the First Nations they work with, reconciliation is based on good energy.

Why You Should Listen

Indigenous Peoples across Canada have developed energy projects that deliver clean, affordable and reliable power to their communities. This episode provides examples of what happens when First Nations and industry work together—and what happens when industry fails to build respectful relationships and commit to meaningful consultation, as outlined in TRC Call to Action 92.  

About Our Guests

Professor Diana (Dee) Lewis and Dr. Heather Castleden  

Diana (Dee) and Heather are Co-Directors of A Shared Future: Achieving Strength, Health, and Autonomy through Renewable Energy Development for the Future, an international research program which explores how Indigenous knowledge systems, as applied to renewable energy development, may have the potential to lead us towards ‘healthful environments’ through reconciling and healing our relations with each other as well as with the land, air, and water around us.

Diana Lewis is an Assistant Professor at Western University, Department of Indigenous Studies and the Department of Geography and Environment. She has worked with multiple First Nations directly, as well as many Indigenous political organizations, federal government agencies, and program delivery organizations in Canada over 30 years. 

Diana is Mi’kmaq from Sipekne’katik First Nation in Nova Scotia, and holds a Master of Resource and Environmental Management degree. Her PhD research focuses on resource development, and the impacts of resource development on the health of Indigenous peoples using a methodology that combines both Indigenous and western-based sciences. Her long-term research interests are to foster a wider understanding of the unique aspects of Indigenous environmental health, specifically as it is impacted by resource or industrial development.  

Dr. Heather Castleden is a (white) settler guest and scholar on traditional Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee territory at Queen’s University where she is a Canada Research Chair in Reconciling Relations for Health, Environments and Communities. She has spent her academic career as a geographer working at the theoretical, methodological, and empirical nexus of power and resistance, relationships to place, and moral/ethical accountability. Her research is community-based and participatory, in partnerships with Indigenous peoples, communities, organizations, and governments on topics important to them, focusing on the politics of knowledge production in environment and health justice.

Diana (Dee) and Heather Say:

On making renewable energy the focus of A Shared Future   

>> 14:14: Heather: We knew that we wanted to look at reconciliation. We knew we wanted to look at renewable energy.

>> 12:40: We were really interested in bringing forward stories of strength, stories of Indigenous leadership in the renewable energy sector to showcase the work that Indigenous communities are doing that reflect their values and ways of being, in relationship to the land.

On Tobique First Nation – how renewable energy contributes to reconciliation (or not) 

>>19:19: Diana: When I think of the three terms, reconciliation, self-determination, and energy security,