Project Brief

The goal of this collaborative research project is to understand gaps in the effectiveness of one federal funding renewable energy program and how this program fits within the broader context of reconciliation. Specifically, Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) is offering an Off-Diesel Challenge under the Impact Canada Initiative, which aims to provide northern remote communities in Canada with an opportunity to implement their innovative proposals for reducing diesel dependence through renewable energy projects and energy conservation initiatives. This initiative (in its current form) will first ask communities to co-create a challenge that is adapted and responsive to the needs of remote communities, with the goal of supporting innovative ideas arising from communities in remote Canada to reduce their reliance on diesel and move towards renewable forms of energy.

Project Updates

In October 2019, members of the research team (Heather Castleden, Derek Kornelsen, Marc Calabretta, Isaac White), the Advisory Committee (Diana Lewis, Ken Paul, Naatoi’Ihkpiakii (Melissa Quesnelle), Siobhan Slade), and Elder Barbara Dumont-Hill met in Ottawa to conduct workshops for the initial qualitative data analysis regarding 2 sets of interviews: those conducted with Indigenous community members who have secured IODI funding; and those conducted with members of government and NGOs who are responsible for the development and roll-out of the IODI. These preliminary findings were then discussed with IODI community members and government/NGO members respectively on October 31, in Ottawa where we convened two separate workshops and sharing circles with each group of participants.

We are now in the process of analyzing much of the data collected over the past 2 years. Since the program was officially launched almost 1 year ago (Feb. 2019), we have collected a wide range of observational data from training sessions with IODI recipients, sharing circles, and interviews conducted with the recipients, as well as government and NGO staff responsible for the development and roll-out of the IODI program. As we move forward with data analysis, we are also ensuring that we will engage with participants to solicit further feedback on our preliminary findings. This includes a 2-day workshop with IODI recipients, which took place in Saskatoon February 5-6. The research team is also planning a meeting with government and NGO staff in Ottawa in mid-late April. Finally, the team is also developing a presentation to a broader audience within NRCan regarding understanding the theoretical foundations underlying settler colonialism and how this might impact initiatives to decolonize the civil service in general.

Click here to view all bimonthly project updates.

Heather Castleden, Siobhan Slade, and Melissa Quesnelle at an Off-Diesel Initiative

Members of the Research Team and Advisory Committee during a data analysis meeting. October, 2019

Team Elder Barbara Dumont Hill and Derek Kornelsen, A SHARED Future Summer Institute 2018. Photo credit Josh Lyon


  • To conduct a 2-part Policy Analysis to provide essential background information to participating parties;
  • To engage with participating communities to assess communities’ visions/priorities as well as barriers and opportunities, particularly implementing a culturally-relevant sex- and gender-based analysis, regarding moving forward with renewable energy initiatives in general using Impact Canada’s co-creation model as an example;
  • To engage with participating provincial and territorial representatives, industry, the staff/management from the relevant utility companies, and federal representatives to assess these agencies’ visions/priorities as well as barriers and opportunities , particularly implementing a culturally-relevant sex- and gender-based analysis, regarding moving forward with renewable energy initiatives;
  • To train the next generation of researchers, including Indigenous researchers, through opportunities for community trainees, student trainees and hired research assistants;
  • To share and exchange knowledge between all project participants and community members.

Project Team


Heather Castleden


Derek Kornelsen, Naatoi’lhkpiakii (Melissa Quesnelle)

Advisory Committee

Naatoi’Ihkpiakii (Melissa Quesnelle), Ken Paul, Diana Lewis, Siobhan Slade, Vince Robinson


Natural Resources Canada: