We Lived This Way Before is guided by the following overarching research questions: (1) What does a healthy future look like for the members of the community, across the gender spectrum, when TFN gets back to living off the local environment using water (hydro), air (wind), earth (wood), and fire (solar)?; (2) What does their knowledge and experiences have to teach us about how to do this successfully in other Indigenous contexts?; and (3) How may renewable energy in the case of TFN contribute to broader goals of reconciliation and nation-to-nation building in Canada?
The We Lived This Way Before (WLTWB) team met in Fredericton, New Brunswick, on February 18-19, 2020. Although Chad Walker has been working in England at the University of Exeter, he has continued to be involved in the work with Tobique First Nation (TFN). The Project Advisory Committee has directed Chad to prepare an update for the leadership, the Technical Committee (Renewable Energy Development), and community concerning interviews he had scheduled with staff from NB Power over the past summer. This feedback will inform the process for the negotiation of a renewable energy collaboration agreement between TFN and NB Power. The Project Advisory Committee has added a new Objective to the overall study to collect data which can measure what free, prior and informed consent and the social licence to operate looks like as a community goes through a referendum process on the agreement for community-based renewable energy development. This will require a revision to the ethics approval secured for the project. Diana Lewis, Academic Project Lead, will coordinate the revision.
Serena Mendizabal has presented a Sustainability Education Proposal to the Project Advisory Committee designed to develop culturally appropriate learning opportunities for youth, families, and the wider community to support ongoing conversations about sustainability in TFN. Community Project Lead Tanna Pirie-Wilson is taking the proposal to school officials for discussion. We plan to hire a research coordinator in TFN over the next few months who will start to work with Serena in refining and implementing the educational programming.
WLTWB is expected to develop measures of what constitutes healthy people, healthy lands, and a healthy environment as TFN creates an energy secure future for their community. To that end, work will start in the next month to develop a Wolastoqiyik cultural framework that will guide us as we develop the environmental health survey instrument. Ethics approval will have to be secured before we can implement a data collection process in the community over the summer months.
Exciting times as work starts to pick up in the community.