Project Brief

This action-oriented research project focused on examining the gaps in the effectiveness of Natural Resource Canada’s Indigenous Off-Diesel Initiative (IODI), which is supported by the Impact Canada Initiative. The IODI 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.

The team engaged in a critical policy analysis to understand the strengths and challenges associated with Federal initiatives that target Indigenous communities in order to situate the design and roll out of the IODI. Then, the team conducted interviews and focus groups with the IODI champions to learn about their experiences participating in the Initiative. Specifically, the team focused on assessing communities’ visions and priorities and how these (mis)aligned with the rollout of the IODI. Particular attention was paid to implementing a culturally relevant sex and gender based analysis of the IODI to develop a strong understanding of the diverse gender-based experiences of champions participating in the IODI.

Project Outputs

This project has led to publications in The Yellowhead Institute, The Conversation, and two manuscripts that are in development. The first manuscript focuses on the experiences of the Champions who participated in the IODI, while the other further develops the critical policy analysis that took place in the first phase of the project. The team is also working on developing a report of their findings to share with the IODI Champions in a way that is most effective and meaningful for them as renewable energy champions, and for their community moving forward

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, Naatoi’lhkpiakii (Melissa Quesnelle)

Advisory Committee

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


Natural Resources Canada: