Since its inception, the EFL has had the intention to both include Indigenous people, partners, and perspectives as well as acknowledge and address, in its work, issues related to Indigenous people’s relationships to the energy system. As we step along our Truth and Reconciliation journey, we are embracing a knowing that this aspect of our work needs to be improved and deepened if we truly intend for the Lab to represent what is possible for today’s energy system in Alberta, and beyond.
There have been many lessons along the way.
Lessons that, I believe, pull us deeper into grasping the gravity of this journey, as opposed to lessons that form a clear sequence of steps or actions to take. But even while holding the highest intention for our work – to be genuinely collaborative and co-creative – we are learning and uncovering how the biases and beliefs we are personally and collectively rooted in ultimately shape the limits of our intentions. Our journey is more than tallying which efforts and initiatives have succeeded or not, but is the task of unlearning the limitations of what a Western mindset requires for success so that we can unlock true potential and innovation for a co-created future.
And it’s far from “easy” or “solvable”.
But what we are learning – or maybe remembering – is how to be in relationship again. Relationship with ourselves, each other, our communities, the land, and even re-consider our relationship with wealth, energy, and power.
This journey has evolved into much more than we ever could have expected, which shouldn’t be (but, unfortunately is) surprising. What has been the most profound for me has been to witness the little moments when people are able to find common ground between a Western and Indigenous perspective. Sometimes it will be in the context of an initiative or social challenge that a small group is convening around, but often these moments are ignited within each person as something clicks and connects their head to their heart.
And maybe, I would offer today, this simple bridging of a logical, task-oriented, goal-driven mindset with a holistic, compassionate, heart-first energy is the north star for our journey. With the north star being an invitation and a guide, not a mandate or responsibility. It then becomes the opportunity for each of us to recognize and respond to the importance of moving in this direction – and then choosing to, in our own time and own way.
As a Lab, a large part of our collective commitment is to ongoing learning and adaptation. This work is not excluded from that dynamic. We certainly aren’t perfect, but we continuously strive to step into an awareness of our own personal work in tandem with respectfully strengthening the Lab’s capacity for authentically working in, across and between Western and Indigenous worldviews.
2020 promises to generate a lot of momentum for our Truth and Reconciliation journey. We have some exceptional new Fellows, new partners, and we truly believe that our hearts and minds are opening in ways that are both innovative and necessary for the future that is required of us.
Looking forward to seeing you along the way.
Kelley Thompson is a Project Manager of the Energy Futures Lab.