Project Brief

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.

The project engaged in a critical policy and project analysis which sought to determine how NunatuKavut Inuit have been involved with and benefitted from previous and ongoing energy-related decisions in the region. Through ongoing community engagement, the team launched a high efficiency woodstove pilot project in the partner community of Black Tickle. Through the implementation of this project, the team sought to address the immediate community concern of heat insecurity, which was identified as a priority by the NunatuKavut Community Council and community members through 211 interviews and surveys across nine participating communities. In addition, the team sought to advance and model a genuine community-led sustainable energy initiative, delivered by Inuit, alongside Inuit, and for the principal benefit of Inuit.

Project Outputs

In addition to conducting a critical policy analysis, interviews, and conducting surveys, the team supported the rollout of the high efficiency woodstove initiative. The team produced a report, Community Co-Creation of a Clean Energy Initiative: Black Tickle High Efficiency Woodstove Pilot Project that details this project. During this time, the team also supported NunatuKavut’s sustainability planning, which included working with nine youth over eight weeks to train them in survey collection, report writing, and other research-related activities. This evolved into the NATURE (NunatuKavut Action Team on Understanding Renewable Energy) Youth Council.

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;

and to 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 Initiative.

Building from the first phase of research, the team has begun to plan the next steps of the project. Connor Cepella and Victoria Sandre are Master’s students in the Resource and Environmental Management program at Dalhousie and joined the team in early January 2019. They are planning a research project that will build from the momentum of the NATURE Youth Council by evaluating the success of the Council. Nick Mercer is planning to pursue post-doctoral research that enacts some of the recommendations stemming from his doctoral work, including the possibility of a community firewood service as a pathway to sustainability, paired with capacity-building and community engagement around high-efficiency wood stoves. And finally, we are in the early stages of planning an educational event that would provide the opportunity for community members to learn more about different renewable energy possibilities.

Project Team


Debbie Martin, Amy Hudson


Nick Mercer, Abigail Poole


NunatuKavut Community Council: