NWAC Participates in A SHARED Future’s 2022 Summer Gathering

Oct 18, 2022
Shining The Spotlight Issue11 WEBSITE SHARE FUTURE

From July 18–22, 2022, NWAC was invited to participate in A SHARED Future’s 2022 summer gathering, which took place on the unceded territories of the Mi’kmaw. The theme of the gathering was “Global Interconnectedness for Sustainable Energy Futures.”

A SHARED Future (Achieving Strength, Health, and Autonomy through Renewable Energy Development for the Future) is a five-year research program that was established to document stories of healing and reconciliation through partnerships associated with renewable energy projects.

The program supports 10 thematically linked projects across Canada that study various types of intersectoral partnerships, with the focus on Indigenous Peoples’ leadership in renewable energy conservation, efficiency, and development. The program examines how nation-to-nation collaboration and relationship building between Indigenous communities and Canadian institutions can help to foster reconciliation and healing with one another and the world around us.

NWAC has participated with A SHARED Future in the past. We collaborated on the project “Advancing Culturally Relevant Gender Based Analysis in Indigenous Research on Renewable Energy Futures and Health,” the findings of which were published September 2021 in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. The initiative highlighted the nuances of implementing Indigenous gender-based analysis in an ethical, relationally grounded, and reciprocal way throughout different renewable energy research projects. It reference NWAC’s culturally relevant gender-based analysis (CRGBA) framework as a useful lens from which to operationalize gender-based analysis that is distinctions- based, trauma-informed, and culturally relevant.

Given NWAC’s relationship with A SHARED Future, along with their implementation of the CRGBA framework in multiple projects, NWAC was delighted to contribute to A SHARED Future’s initiatives at the 2022 summer gathering.

The intent of the gathering was twofold: create a learning opportunity for trainees, knowledge users, and intersectoral participants who have been involved with A SHARED Future’s respective projects; and make space to further cultivate and strengthen relationships.

With A SHARED Future entering its final year, this summer gathering focused on the linkages and research outputs of the co-led research projects taking place under its umbrella. Key thematic links that were discussed included:

  1. Ethical spaces of these projects, and the ethical, relational, and procedural challenges and opportunities for effecting positive change
  2. Culturally relevant gender-based analysis: Lessons learned and next steps
  3. Institutional ethnography reflecting on A SHARED Future’s co-learning journeys
  4. Barriers/challenges from colonial systems, structures, and infrastructure to Indigenous renewable energy projects
  5. Commitment to action and identifying opportunities to enact change

Additional themes that arose throughout the course of discussions included:

  1. social sustainability
  2. how to meaningfully evaluate the impact of our respective projects and measure our work
  3. how to sustainably foster participants’ and researchers’ healing and wellness throughout our projects, identifying a link between the unnatural and unsustainable ways in which we control the flows of physical and mental and spiritual energy

Throughout the course of the thematic discussions, participants offered significant insights and critical feedback on NWAC’s CRGBA framework, including:

• probing what is meant by the framework when referencing Indigenous knowledge as a key concept of the analytical process
            o includes resisting pan-Indigenizing the concept of Indigenous and/or Traditional Knowledge and specifying the distinctions    between the vast array of Indigenous knowledge systems on Turtle Island and Inuit Nunangat
• recognizing the importance of language as a conduit for Indigenous knowledge systems and ensuring that Indigenous languages are meaningfully incorporated throughout the analytical process
• emphasizing that values and responsibilities cannot be separated from Indigenous knowledge systems
           o there are intentional ways in which knowledge is transmitted and how this knowledge influences and interacts with Indigenous    Peoples’ values, responsibilities, and how Indigenous Peoples govern themselves
• challenging the name (difficult to understand)

The summer gathering concluded with discussions around next steps and future goals of the participants. NWAC looks forward to maintaining ongoing relationships with the participants and to look for opportunities for future collaboration, including the use of the CRGBA framework in future research projects on renewable energy, economic development, and health issues.

Overall, NWAC is incredibly grateful and honoured to have been invited as a participant, and to have established such intentional, reciprocal relationships with other Indigenous researchers and community members. We look forward to hearing about A SHARED Future’s next steps as the project enters the sun-setting phase.