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“That’s Our Traditional Way as Indigenous Peoples”: Towards a Conceptual Framework for Understanding Community Support of Sustainable Energies in NunatuKavut, Labrador

1
Department of Geography and Environmental Management, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1, Canada
2
Department of Research, Education, and Culture, NunatuKavut Community Council, Happy Valley-Goose Bay, NL A0P 1C0, Canda
3
School of Human Health and Performance, Dalhousie University, Halifax Regional Municipality, NS B3G 4R2, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2020, 12(15), 6050; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12156050
Received: 28 June 2020 / Revised: 24 July 2020 / Accepted: 25 July 2020 / Published: 28 July 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Energy Sustainability)
There is a substantial body of literature in North America regarding the social acceptance of renewable energies, particularly wind energy. However, limited research focuses on the experiences of Indigenous Peoples. Furthermore, several researchers have called for a rapid transition to renewable energies in Indigenous off-grid diesel powered communities in Canada, while limited research has considered local support for this transition, which neglects the Indigenous right of free, prior, and informed consent for developments on or which affect their territories. Working in partnership with nine Indigenous off-grid communities in southeast Labrador, we assess community-member perceptions and support of sustainable energies via hybrid interviews/surveys (n = 211) and key informant interviews (n = 11). Applying directed content analysis and participatory methodologies, we find that five primary themes influence Indigenous support for sustainable energies in southeast Labrador: (1) Community familiarity and understanding; (2) association with previous projects; (3) relationships with culture and sustenance; (4) endogeneity of resources; (5) energy security impacts. The themes should be viewed as a framework for understanding community support, not a definitive recipe for reaching consent. Applying these themes, we demonstrate broad community support for conventional renewables (wind, solar), reluctance towards emerging renewables (biomass, tidal, wave) and energy storage (pumped hydro, battery), and wide opposition for hydroelectricity and small modular nuclear. We demonstrate that energy efficiency applications maintain substantially higher support than most supply-side options. Supply-side sustainable energies have the potential to perpetuate the colonial or extractive nature of resource development in Indigenous communities, while energy efficiency applications more directly facilitate energy security and protect energy sovereignty. View Full-Text
Keywords: Indigenous; support; acceptance; perceptions; sustainable; renewable; energy; off-grid; Canada; sovereignty Indigenous; support; acceptance; perceptions; sustainable; renewable; energy; off-grid; Canada; sovereignty
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MDPI and ACS Style

Mercer, N.; Hudson, A.; Martin, D.; Parker, P. “That’s Our Traditional Way as Indigenous Peoples”: Towards a Conceptual Framework for Understanding Community Support of Sustainable Energies in NunatuKavut, Labrador. Sustainability 2020, 12, 6050. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12156050

AMA Style

Mercer N, Hudson A, Martin D, Parker P. “That’s Our Traditional Way as Indigenous Peoples”: Towards a Conceptual Framework for Understanding Community Support of Sustainable Energies in NunatuKavut, Labrador. Sustainability. 2020; 12(15):6050. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12156050

Chicago/Turabian Style

Mercer, Nicholas, Amy Hudson, Debbie Martin, and Paul Parker. 2020. "“That’s Our Traditional Way as Indigenous Peoples”: Towards a Conceptual Framework for Understanding Community Support of Sustainable Energies in NunatuKavut, Labrador" Sustainability 12, no. 15: 6050. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12156050

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