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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Spinning wind into power : industry and energy in Gitxaała Nation, British Columbia Rodman, Lauren Sacha


Wind power currently represents the fastest growing renewable energy resource in the world. Disputes over siting, disparities in economic and community benefits, and perceptions of landscape change all surface with renewable energy projects. Recently, renewable energy projects in partnership with First Nations have spread throughout Canada, yet limited studies exist regarding First Nations and renewable energy projects. This research examines proposed wind farms in Gitxaała Nation, a First Nation located near Prince Rupert, on British Columbia’s North Coast. Gitxaała Nation has four wind projects proposed in their claimed traditional territory, including the Naikun Wind Farm, potentially Canada’s first offshore wind project. Based on three months of qualitative fieldwork in Prince Rupert, BC (May 2012-August 2012), this thesis examines wind turbine projects in the context of Gitxaała Nation’s experiences and explores the shifting terrain of renewable energy development in British Columbia. Twelve semi-structured interviews were conducted, paired with participant observation and numerous informal conversations. This thesis analyzes how wind turbine development in this context is intricately tied to (and viewed as) large-scale industrial development. For Gitxaała Nation, it is linked to the development of the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline. In exploring views surrounding wind power’s introduction, the research examines how wind turbine projects are understood and the factors influencing how they are viewed and either accepted or rejected. It raises questions regarding renewable energies in BC and their place with First Nations, and it begins to address whether renewable energy is viewed differently from conventional resource extraction projects. Additionally, this research evaluates the impacts of renewable energy projects on local communities while exploring whether such projects are desired by and/or beneficial to Gitxaała Nation.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International