Indigenous Peoples & Reconciliation
Science & Technology
INDIGENOUS DATA SOVEREIGNTY AND CLIMATE LEADERSHIP
The Challenge: Indigenous self-determination is in the best interests of all Canadians. To rebuild truly autonomous nations — and lead climate action — Indigenous peoples need sovereignty over their lands, their data, and the infrastructure for emerging clean-energy technologies on their territories.
The Solution: Lee White, co-founder of ChinookX Technologies, is creating Indigenous Innovation Districts (IIDs) in allyship with First Nations. Powered by clean energy, these Indigenous-owned data centres have the potential to generate revenue for First Nations communities, incubate new innovations, and deepen relationships between the tech sector and Indigenous communities across Turtle Island.
Indigenous Innovation for a Sustainable Future
Lee White has three main passions: data sovereignty, climate activism, and Indigenous reconciliation. As co-founder of ChinookX Technologies, he’s combined all three. ChinookX partners Indigenous communities with the tech sector to build data projects powered by Indigenous-owned, clean-energy sources. In the process, it’s helping to create a strong foundation for Indigenous economic and cultural autonomy.
“The current state of the Internet — of our collective digital existence — is fundamentally exploitative,” says Lee. “Centralized tech powers, like Facebook and Google, have monetized individual data for massive profit, without regard for community and environmental well-being.”
Data exploitation is all too familiar to Indigenous peoples, who have long seen colonial governments and corporations collect, store, disseminate, and profit from their information without their input or consent. Indigenous data, notes Lee, has been used to create policies and narratives that perpetuate the colonial stranglehold on and economic exclusion of First Nations communities.
With ChinookX Technologies, Lee is focused on data sovereignty — the ownership, control and monetization of content and data — for First Nations. ChinookX partners with Indigenous communities to develop Indigenous Innovation Districts (IIDs) and StoryBox servers. These data centres, powered by clean energy, are built on Indigenous lands. IIDs provide the infrastructure for Indigenous data sovereignty, as well as a revenue stream by way of data storage and processing for broader communities. It’s a model that positions Indigenous peoples to flourish in the next iteration of the internet.
By integrating IIDs with SMARTGrid technology, Indigenous communities can also regulate and optimize local and regional energy usage, establishing their own energy utilities while generating revenue. A third revenue stream comes from leasing land to innovative enterprises seeking data services powered by clean energy. In all, explains Lee, ChinookX data centres can generate up to $30 million in annual revenues for individual First Nations.
ChinookX continues to nurture relationships with software developers developing a more equitable and sustainable Internet, or “Web 3.” To that end, Lee works closely with Indigenous developers, as well as partners like BlockChain@UBC and the Human Data Commons Foundation to create blockchain code informed by traditional Indigenous consensus protocols.
ChinookX’s ultimate vision, says Lee, “is to see Indigenous communities across Turtle Island achieve their own unique economic, social, sustainability, and political goals through Indigenous Innovation Districts.” He envisions “a network of allyship in the tech sector, in the spirit of reconciliation and a sustainable future for us all.”