Economic Impacts of Indigenous Leadership in Catalyzing the Transition to a Clean Energy Future Across Canada

Nov. 21, 2021
This survey draws on ICE’s national research database of Indigenous clean energy projects which has been maintained for over 10 years.

Indigenous Clean Energy (ICE) Social Enterprise is an independent, Indigenous-governed, nonprofit organization. ICE advances Indigenous and broader sustainable prosperity by supporting First Nation, Métis, and Inuit clean energy participation in every region of Canada.

In her spellbinding book Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Wall Kimmerer of the Potawatomi Nation writes of how her “braid of stories is woven from three strands: Indigenous ways of knowing, scientific knowledge, and the story of an Anishinabek scientist.” She goes further and expresses that “wiingashk, or sweetgrass is a powerful ceremonial plant cherished by many Indigenous nations…its value both material and spiritual.”

In this same fashion, as Indigenous peoples play a more and more vital role in the development of clean energy projects in every province and territory of Canada, new stories are being woven. They are demonstrating how a unique Indigenous-centered approach can realize a braid of impacts with strands of cultural, economic, and environmental prominence.

This is about embracing a new way of being. It is not simply the case of moving with pace to a clean energy future – it is about a Just Transition. An end point where how we create and use energy embodies:

  • Adherence to Indigenous rights and treaties, the norms of free, prior, and informed consent, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples;
  • Respect for all ancestral Lands and Waters of First Nation, Métis, and Inuit communities, without exception, across Canada; and,
  • Intention to realize a diverse array of social and economic outcomes for Indigenous communities and peoples, and their partners, with profound action on Cli

Indigenous communities across Canada are a powerful force for change in the country’s transition to a clean energy future. The numbers presented in this survey are truly staggering. Apart from crown and private utilities, Indigenous communities and enterprises are the largest single owner of clean energy assets. It would be fair to describe Indigenous people as the country’s strongest clean energy community, and Indigenous Clean Energy (ICE) as Canada’s National Partnership Hub advancing First Nation, Métis, and Inuit clean energy projects. We at ICE, believe the evidence is definitive – Indigenous leadership is essential to the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Canada, and our country’s economic development, clean energy future, and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.