NunatuKavut, meaning ‘our ancient land’, encompasses the central and south eastern portion of Labrador. NunatuKavut is home to a distinct population of Inuit who have long remained connected to the land, sea, and ice of their territory. NunatuKavut communities are working towards wholistic sustainability, balancing a complex web of resources, opportunities and threats that allow them to continue to live according to their culture and values. Currently, all coastal NunatuKavut communities are reliant on diesel fuel for power generation. Community members view diesel as reliable, safe and effective, but there are concerns about how diesel impacts individual and community health as well as environmental sustainability. Renewable energy alternatives could provide an alternate pathway to sustainability, offering greater autonomy and energy security, however discussions about energy transitions must be embedded within culture and community, and defined by Inuit governance structures.
Team meeting in NunatuKavut. Photo credit Nick Mercer
NunatuKavut, Labrador. Photo credit Debbie Martin
Members of the Towards Energy Security in NunatuKavut team at the NunatuKavut Renewable Energy Summit, January 2019. Photo credit Debbie Martin
This project is co-led by Debbie Martin (Associate Professor, Dalhousie University) and Amy Hudson (Research Education and Culture Manager, NunatuKavut Community Council (NCC)), building from NCC’s Community Governance and Sustainability Initiative. Additional team members include Mr. George Russell, Dr. Ashlee Cunsolo, Ms. Emily Beacock, Dr. Chad Walker, Mr. Nick Mercer, Ms. Victoria Sandre and Mr. Connor Cepella.
This multidisciplinary team have been working with these communities and NCC to:
Identify the diverse values, perspectives, tensions and opportunities associated with renewable energy planning and development;
Work with the communities to identify capacity-building needs and interests in relation to renewable energy.
The first phase of this research has been completed. Master’s student, Emily Beacock conducted three focus groups and ten interviews to identify community sustainability concerns, as well as priorities and needs related to human health, health of the environment, and community members’ perspectives about energy transitions from diesel to renewable energy. During the same time period, Nick Mercer, funded in partnership with A SHARED Future, SSHRC Engage and NCC, conducted 211 community energy planning interviews with community members and 11 key informant interviews in nine NunatuKavut communities in relation to renewable energy planning.
The first phase of the research has included numerous opportunities to support capacity-building and community engagement in NunatuKavut. In partnership with the Conservation Corps of Newfoundland and Labrador, A SHARED Future supported the establishment of the NATURE (NunatuKavut Action Team on Using Renewable Energy) Youth Council. Nine youth from across NunatuKavut joined the NATURE Youth Council to support sustainability research and learn about renewable energy possibilities in their home communities. In addition, our research team has also produced three community results reports, and shared preliminary findings at events in all nine participating communities; as well as two Renewable Energy Research Summits, which allowed findings to be shared with NCC staff, other researchers, and with Nunacor, which is the economic development arm of NCC. Finally, the team has supported NCC in writing several successful grant applications including the NRCAN Clean Energy for Rural and Remote Communities grant and the Off-Diesel