Study 3:  Community-based wind energy in an Indigenous community context


Details of this study now available on the MERE website

The purpose this study is to work with an Indigenous community who has adopted a community-based renewable energy project to share stories of how that project relates to community values and goals. For example, community ownership may be expected to positively impact community well-being though economic sovereignty, self-determination and self-sufficiency. The exploratory project will utilize qualitative methods, preferably within a community-based participatory research framework, to address four main research questions: 1) How do renewable (wind) energy projects contribute towards improved well-being; 2) What social values are linked to the desire for community owned renewable energy projects?; 3) How does community entrepreneurship regarding renewable (wind) energy relate to concepts like environmental sovereignty (community control of resources) and self-determination (free choice of communities); 4) How are (might) these early-adopter communities (of indigenous community-based renewable energy) share lessons learned with each other and other communities considering a similar economic development path? Outputs will include forms desired by the local community - e.g., visual media. The work on this study will be in parallel with the A SHARED Future project: Achieving Strength, Health and Autonomy through Renewable Energy Development for the Future.


In the Canadian context, Indigenous communities are leading the way in community-based energy development whereby decision-making, financing and benefits go directly to the communities rather than (solely to) energy companies. Indigenous populations of Canada, however, experience a disproportionate lack of well-being in comparison with non-Indigneous Canadian populations. This relative lack of well-being is the result of a colonial history. In an Indigenous context self-determination, self-sufficiency and the strengthening of culture, are all part of the well-being of an individual and community. Well-being is multidimensional and includes both economics and a person’s connections with their family, community and land. Community owned renewable energy initiatives are relatively rare in Canada despite the fact that community owned renewable energy projects are often hailed as being highly sustainable. Thus, there is much to be learned with Indigenous communities who are engaged in community-led projects, as visionaries and leaders from whom other communities can learn.


This research is designed to respect principles of reconciliation while at the same time addressing lessons being learned within the local community regarding turbines. We will use a methodology that makes sense to the community, but will likely framed by a community-based approach that respects the research desires of the collaborating community. This is an approach that recognizes a troubled and past where ‘research’ is tied to a colonial history of coopting knowledge, data, and samples from Indigenous communities without due attention to community benefits and acknowledgment. Community based research can serve to counter this by building community partnerships and practicing collaboration to develop a research topic that mutually benefits the community and researcher. Interviews with community members will likely be combined with visually-based approaches like photo-voice or photo elicitation.


This research will bring into focus how what the local wind energy project means to local residents - which may inform how community leaders move forward with the project. In the broader picture, the work is significant as Indigenous communities, globally, work towards creating a space within the economic system that is based on their own terms; terms which foster their knowledge systems, culture, language and self-determination. Outcomes of this research will also include community gatherings and ideally, a conference style meeting with numerous First Nation communities to share experiences of community owned renewable energy projects and help inspire communities who may be keen on learning more about their options with regards to renewable energy projects and community benefits.

Learn More

To learn more about this study please see the list of publications and/or contact us


Carelle earns AAG paper award! 17 Apr 2021

Canadian MOCWE survey results arriving! 7 Nov 2020

Attitudes towards wind turbine health effects pathways 20 Oct 2020

Carelle's paper on energy transitions and and reconciliation accepted for publication 9 Sep 2020

Ireland wind neighbours pilot survey 6 Sep 2020

Paige Callaghan joins the team 28 May 2020

Carelle completes interview phase of M'Chigeeng research partnership 16 Oct 2019

Carelle, Parveen and Jamie join low carbon transition workshop in Belfast NI 20 Sep 2019

Welcome Sara to the research team 10 Sep 2019

M'Chigeeng-MOCWE (Western U) research partnership launch! 25 Jul 2019

International Energy Association Wind Task 28: Social Accpetance of Wind Energy 28 Mar 2018

Welcome Parveen to the research team 8 Jan 2018

Renewables in Remote Communities: Whitehorse 24 Oct 2017

Welcome Carelle to the research team 28 Sept 2017

Dr. Walker off to Queen's, Postdoc A SHARED Future 1 Sept 2017

Team research workshop and fieldtrip - thanks to our hosts! 18 August 2017

News and views piece on community participation published in Nature Energy 18 July 2017

Dr. Walker! 27 June 2017

Jamie attends workshop for A SHARED Future 24 March 2017

Media coverage of "Toolkit" studies 6 March 2017

Final "Toolkit" available for download 10 February 2017

"Toolkit" and Dec 8 Workshop/Webinar details posted 6 December 2016

On Thurs, Dec. 8, 2016 we will be holding our end-of-project workshop for the "toolkit" series of studies. 17 October 2016

Graduate students needed for new funded studies! 8 July 2016

Study 1: All data collected and being analyzed 11 February 2016

Lessons learned from Ontario wind energy disputes manuscript published 26 January 2016

"Adding insult to injury" manuscript published 23 November 2015

Emmanuel Songsore earns PhD focused on media analysis. Congratulations! 19 October 2015

Survey for study 1 has been mailed out to prospective respondents. 15 June 2015

COAREP seeking turbine lease-holders in the Adelaide-Metcalfe area to interview (confidential/anonymous)! 17 February 2014

Meghan McMorris joins the research team to work with Indigenous communities. 17 February 2015

Fieldwork in Ontario and Nova Scotia 8 October 2014

Media release of "Beyond Rhetoric" study paper 21 May 2014

"Geographic perspectives on wind energy" 10 April 2014

Launch of COAREP website 9 April 2014