In writing, Aboriginal Power, Chris Henderson has not only changed our national narrative, he has also made a convincing argument that by acting decisively and with verve the rest of Canada can too.
The book shines a spotlight on how, after decades of missed and mismanaged opportunities, Canada’s First Peoples are building sustainable prosperity through participation in clean-energy projects. Chris argues that renewable energy is a compelling and powerful force for change, and that sharing the bounty with First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities reflects Canadian values. We concur that it is also fair and, frankly, long overdue.
Aboriginal Power provides concrete evidence that it is possible to develop renewable energy resources while minimizing footprints on lands, water, wildlife and fishery. Moreover, by investing in such projects, whether large or small, we are collectively making a major contribution to reducing Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions.
The book shines a spotlight on how, after decades of missed and mismanaged opportunities, Canada’s First Peoples are building sustainable prosperity through participation in clean-energy projects.
We were captivated by the array of stories and images captured in Aboriginal Power. The experiences Chris describes are uniquely Canadian. They echo the country’s bountiful geography and reflect the essence of place that is so central to First Nation, Inuit and Métis cultures. We were encouraged by how Indigenous leaders are doing the heavy lifting necessary to make clean-energy projects a reality. It speaks to a sense of shared purpose within peoples and nations, and a personal commitment on the part of individual Indigenous leaders. We were struck by the powerful partnerships the book describes between Indigenous communities and project developers. Clearly, clean energy is marrying the experience, expertise and financial resources of private and public organizations with the traditional territory, knowledge and human capital of First Peoples.
Time and again, Chris demonstrates his understanding of the importance of community engagement and capacity building. The case studies he describes illustrate how clean-energy projects are leading to skills development, training, jobs and, ultimately, confidence within aboriginal communities. The strategies he proposes for building capacity are an important contribution to sustainable development.
But the book doesn’t stop there. Aboriginal Power successfully makes the business case for clean-energy. Chris’s argument that planning and operating renewable energy projects in partnership with aboriginal communities makes Canada’s economic pie bigger resonated with us. So too did his compelling descriptions of how investing project income in long-term economic, social and cultural well-being is infinitely more desirable and financially rewarding than spending dividends as they are earned.
The book’s engaging stories, especially those about northern and remote communities’ battles to break their dependency on diesel fuel, are as interesting to read as they are informative.
Our straightforward message to Canada’s decision-makers, politicians, corporate heads, senior public officials and aboriginal leaders is:
Read this book; make the best practices described commonplace, and act on the innovative actions proposed. Realizing the full potential of Aboriginal Power is only possible if governments, utilities, corporations and capital markets embrace the ideas presented in this important book.
When Chris asked us to be a Circle of Elders and write this Foreword, we were all intrigued. The book’s subject is timely and important for our country. We applaud Chris’s tireless efforts as a practitioner and can only express our gratitude that he has generously passed along so much of his seemingly endless knowledge.
In closing, we salute the Indigenous communities and leaders who are advancing renewable energy projects from coast-to-coast-to-coast. This good and noble work will fortify indigenous nations, thereby making Canada a better country.
Former National Chief, Assembly of First Nations
Special Advisor to RBC and Senior Advisor to Norton Rose
Corporate Director and President of First Canadian Properties Ltd.
Member of the Mohawk Nation
The Right Honourable Paul Martin
21st Prime Minister of Canada
The Honourable Jim Prentice
Senior Executive Vice-President and Vice Chairman, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce
Former Federal Minister Serving Variously as Minister of Industry, Minister of the Environment and Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs
Dr. Judith Sayers (Kekinusuqs)
National Aboriginal Economic Development Chair and Professor Business and Law, University of Victoria
Former Chief of the Hupacasth First Nation