Energy systems including those tied to solar, wind and geothermal technologies have many kinds of socio-economic, political and cultural values within Canadian society. Among Indigenous and northern Canadian communities, there are unique knowledges, perceptions, opportunities and challenges associated with transitioning away from large-scale extractive and non-renewable energy dependencies to systems which have greater socio-economic and environmental benefit both locally and globally.
The research team of T03-P04 is comprised of an interdisciplinary team of scholars and community partners. Guided by the Steering Committee of partner organizations, the team aims to take a collaborative and cross-cutting approach to research creating and sustaining government and corporate partnerships (for inkind and cash contributions to proposed projects), Indigenous community engagement, as well as multidisciplinary innovation and problem solving with other FES research teams. The team recognizes that both academics and community partners outside of academia have valuable expertise, resources and networks through which unique social-science research innovations, practices and outcomes can be developed. Guided by the research priorities within the Future Energy Systems project proposal and its mandate, the social sciences can contribute to addressing the following larger questions.
- How can scientists and Indigenous communities work together using both traditional knowledge and renewable energy technology to co-design geothermal, wind and solar energy projects that address the needs of communities in three regions of Alberta and northern Canada?
- What kinds of socio-economic costs and benefits are represented by new technologies proposed through FES?
- How can discursive processes of decision-making over energy innovation lead to improved adaptive capacity in dealing with energy shortfalls? How can energy surpluses be created and managed in a way to ensure both social, economic and environmental sustainability?
- Can new energy technologies improve the well-being of northern communities by lowering the costs of housing in remote communities?
- What role might Indigenous youth play in building a new energy economy? Can energy innovation through FES at the University of Alberta provide real incentives for education for youth who have historically be marginalized from post-secondary education?
The projects proposed under this theme recognizes the importance of the knowledge Indigenous peoples in ensuring meaningful and sustainable energy translations. A diverse and collaborative approach to working with Indigenous communities is needed, given the significant socio-economic, political and cultural diversity of First Nations, Metis and Inuit communities and the importance of finding the fit between technologies and the unique energy landscapes of those living in northern Canada.