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The new accord: Aboriginal power and the future of Canada’s First Peoples

July 3, 2013

“What is the forging of a new accord that is a different way of developing resources so that Aboriginal communities are true partners, we truly protect the environment and we develop it as best we can?” — Chris Henderson, president of Lumos Energy

On June 24, Chris Henderson joined us as part of the MaRS Global Leadership series for the launch of his new book Aboriginal Power: Clean Energy and the Future of Canada’s First Peoples. He provided an insightful overview of the disruptive and game-changing potential of renewable energy: the potential to change not only how we produce energy, but also to change the social and economic prosperity of Aboriginal communities and the feeble private sector relationships that have existed for 300 years.

Beginning with the story of the Inukjuak community in Quebec, Chris described the population’s continuing reliance on diesel fuel for heat, electricity and water services. Inukjuak is 400 kilometres away from the provincial grid and relies on annual diesel shipments for its energy. Chris recounted the community’s desire to adopt renewable energy technologies in order to free themselves from reliance on diesel fuel and to create a better future for their children.

Aboriginal Power is a book of stories about communities like Inukjuak that have diversified their energy sources and actively engaged in new partnerships and projects. The book features the stories of 50 renewable power projects throughout Canada and the impact they have had on local communities and on Canada’s overall resiliency. They are remarkable stories of both action and results, and they demonstrate the power of partnerships, with energy developers and Aboriginal communities working toward mutually beneficial arrangements. These partnerships are not “consultations,” which Chris describes as being a “vestige of colonial relationships.” Rather, these partnerships have formed through a respectful, proactive, interactive and substantive process and the results of these collaborations truly show.

Chris describes Aboriginal Power as a book about hope that is not hopeful, but real. It demonstrates the potential of renewable energy in shaping our future. As Chris notes: “Aboriginal Power is about the Canada we want.”

I’m looking forward to reading the book, which, as Chris notes in his conclusion, is but a snapshot in time. With the actions we take there are sure to be more inspirational stories to come!

Check out the Storify summary for highlights and photos from the event.

Resources

Visit aboriginalpower.ca to learn more and to join the Aboriginal Power Community.

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Tristina Sinopoli

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Tristina is an associate with the MaRS Centre for Impact Investing, supporting the execution of the Centre’s education and engagement strategy and initiatives. She recently graduated from the Schulich School of Business at York University with a degree in international business administration.

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