Introducing the team: Collaborator Sophie M. Lavoie

The NB Media Coop is one of the Collaborators on the CEDAR project and I am a representative of this news organization.

The NB Media Co-op was formed in 2009 following a successful New Brunswick Social Forum in 2008 in Fredericton, where 200 people rooted in a variety of social movements gathered under the hopeful banner “Another New Brunswick and World are Possible.”

The people who came together at this forum — workers, students, anti-capitalists, anti-imperialists, peace activists, Indigenous rights activists, feminists, gay rights activists, labour unionists, environmentalists, social workers and artists — recognized they had one common problem: the media in New Brunswick. Following the adage, “Don’t Hate the Media, Be the Media,” a group of activists did just that, and the NB Media Co-op was born months later and officially incorporated shortly after.

As an independent media outlet, the NB Media Co-op publishes stories not covered in the mainstream commercial media. Our stories take a social justice lens and include the perspectives of workers, students, Indigenous and racialized peoples, and other groups marginalized by society. We are mostly volunteers. Our editorial board members have journalism training and experience and all of us are committed to social justice.

In the past, NB Media Co-op has also been involved as a Collaborator in the SSHRC-funded RAVEN (Rural Action and Voices for the Environment) research project that was conducted from 2018 to 2023. I was also the NB Media Co-op representative on that project.

I moved to Fredericton in 2008 and, although I didn’t attend the New Brunswick Social Forum, I’ve been a member of the editorial board of the NB Media Co-op since 2012. I also write and edit stories on arts and culture, have supervised interns for the Co-op, among other duties. You can read my news pieces here.

Fun fact: I had my first paying gig as a freelance journalist for Le Courrier de la Nouvelle Écosse in 1993. I am also a professor of Spanish and Latin American Studies at the University of New Brunswick (Fredericton), a literary translator with various books published, and a member of the editorial board for the Canadian Journal of Hispanic Studies.

CEDAR at the Congress in Montreal – Susan’s take

Last week (June 16-21) during the heat wave I was in Montreal, participating in three conferences as part of the Congress of Humanities and Social Sciences – the big event with 70+ academic conferences together held every year at a different university in Canada. This year McGill University was the host, and given the situation on the campus with the anti-war encampment and a law faculty strike, all three of my conferences were moved elsewhere in the city.

I spent most of my time at the Society of Socialist Studies conference, moved to UQAM’s Sherbrooke Pavilion. M.V. Ramana and I co-organized a panel: “Challenging the Canadian Nuclear Establishment” with fellow panelists PhD student Laura Tanguay and Professor Mark Winfield, both from York University. We agreed to repeat the panel presentations at an open zoom event, details to follow later this year. At the panel I presented my paper in development “Challenging Hegemonic Corporate Media Discourse on Nuclear Power: The NB Media Coop” written with research assistant Emma Fackenthall who also attended the session. We’re still doing the analysis and will aim to finish drafting the paper this year. In addition to listening to many interesting presentations, I also had fun hanging out with Ramana and Laura for three days.

The Canadian Sociological Association pulled out of Congress entirely and held a parallel virtual conference. I presented my paper, “Nuclear Waste on Indigenous Homelands: A Settler Critique” using slides prepared by research assistant Abby Bartlett, in collaboration with Ramana. Abby and I are working on a report on the topic, aiming to have a draft by the end of the summer, working in collaboration with our CEDAR Indigenous research partners. I presented the slides by zoom from my non-air-conditioned residence room at the top of the McGill campus. Aside from that one session, I skipped the rest of the CSA virtual conference so I could attend the in-person sessions at other venues.

My third and final presentation was at the Canadian Communication Association conference, moved to the Université de Montréal campus. I also chaired my panel after the original chair was unable to attend. I’ve been working on my CCA paper, “The nuclear industry, the government and the public sphere” for more than a year and have revised it numerous times as new info from my access to information requests has come in. I’m still waiting for one request, from Global Affairs Canada, and as soon as it arrives I should be able to finish that paper quickly and submit it for review and publication.

On reflection, the week in Montreal was well worth it. I’ll return home with lots of good ideas for further research. I met up with some former, current and possibly future academic colleagues. I was also able to meet up with family in Montreal and Ottawa where I lived for many years. Next year, the Congress will be in Toronto at George Brown College and I’m already thinking ahead to which conferences I’ll take part in. Three conferences in one week is definitely my limit.

Susan’s colleagues Laura Tanguay (York U) and M.V. Ramana (UBC) after the first day of the Socialist Studies conference in Montreal, June 17, 2024.

Introducing the team: Erin Hurley, research assistant

Hi everyone! My name is Erin (she/her) and I am in my fourth-year of undergraduate studies at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, New Brunswick. I am honouring in Environment & Society and majoring in Journalism. I began doing research with Dr. Susan O’Donnell and Dr. Janice Harvey in January of 2023 on the Plutonium Project. I am now currently working with them and fellow research assistant Emma Fackenthall on Study 1: Media Analysis for the CEDAR Project.

So far, I have mainly been collecting and coding news articles – along with Emma – for article type, primary and secondary voices, and energy technologies discussed. Once that stage was completed, Dr. Harvey and I conducted an analysis of the news media coverage regarding the NB Legislature hearings with the Standing Committee on Climate Change and Environmental Stewardship this past fall. Our plan was to assess what is being said in the media versus what was said in the hearings. From there, we identified some implications of this for public discourse and public perception of the issues being brought forth to the legislature.  

Other than doing this research, I love to read, write, hike, camp, garden, swim and surf!

Introducing the team: Susan O’Donnell, primary investigator

It’s an exciting time to be researching energy transitions. Politicians and people everywhere are thinking and talking about how we will transition off fossil fuels, and those conversations will become more frequent and intense as we get closer to Canada’s targets of massively reducing GHG emissions by 2030 and building net-zero electricity grids by 2035. The conversations we need to be having include: how all energy use contributes to biodiversity loss, the limits to economic growth, and what we can learn from Indigenous nations about caring for all our relations and making decisions with future generations in mind.

I’ve been a social science researcher for almost three decades, starting in 1995 with a three-year contract at Dublin City University in Ireland after completing my Master’s degree at Cardiff University in Wales. When that first research contract ended, I started a research consultancy in Dublin while completing my PhD and worked for five years on projects involving different European countries. I returned to Canada in 2004 to join the National Research Council (NRC) in Fredericton where I worked on projects involving a range of technologies. My current focus – analyzing the social, environmental, economic and political aspects of nuclear technologies – started in 2020, as a researcher at the University of New Brunswick. I moved to St. Thomas University (also in Fredericton) and launched the CEDAR project in 2023.

In addition to and alongside my research work, I’m an activist and writer. I started in the environmental movement at Carleton University in the late 1970s with the radio show Eco-Chamber on CKCU FM and later worked for Pollution Probe in Ottawa. Over the years I’ve been active in the feminist movement and as a leader in my NRC public sector union. I’m currently a volunteer on several boards of non-governmental organizations and a core member of the Coalition for Responsible Energy Development in New Brunswick (CRED-NB).

Introducing the team: Abby Bartlett, research assistant

Hello everyone, I am Abby Bartlett and have recently graduated from St. Thomas University with my BA. I majored in Native Studies while attending STU and in 2017 I graduated from NBCC with the title of Environmental Technologist. My educational background has prepared me for what I currently focus on as I contribute to the project. I started on the CEDAR project in April of 2024 and am currently working on Study Three, Participatory Action Research. My focus on Study Three is to amplifying Indigenous voices, and part of that started with analyzing 30 declarations made by Indigenous Nations regarding nuclear waste. I have also written an article amplifying the voice of Chief Akagi, and the Passamaquoddy Recognition Group Inc, which was posted in the NB Media Co-op. Chief Akagi has requested to have a public hearing to review any new governance arrangement for the Point Lepreau nuclear reactor on Peskotomuhkati homeland. The article was published today and can be found HERE. I am excited to see what comes next as the CEDAR project continues!

Introducing the Team: Janice Harvey, co-investigator

Hi. I’m am an Assistant Professor in Environment and Society at St. Thomas. This is a program unaffiliated with any particular department in which students can earn a Major (as a double major) or a Minor. The first 25 years of my working life was spent with the Conservation Council of NB, an environmental advocacy group formed in 1969 – one of the oldest in Canada. So my academic second career is informed by many years as an advocate and activist in provincial and federal environmental politics. Before working at CCNB, I began my activism as a member of the Maritime Energy Coalition, the group formed in the 1970s to oppose the construction of the Point Lepreau nuclear plant in New Brunswick. So I cut my political teeth on energy issues opposing nuclear power and advocating for a soft energy path, a term coined by Amory Lovins. Forty-five years later, energy issues remain front and centre as we strive for a liveable future in the face of climate change, widespread toxic and radiological contamination, biodiversity loss, and personal and global insecurity. The CEDAR project is one of many initiatives helping to map out that future.

Introducing the Team: Emma Fackenthall, research assistant

Hi, my name is Emma (she/her). I am a third-year undergraduate student at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, New Brunswick double majoring in Environment & Society and English Language and Literature and double minoring in History and Criminology & Criminal Justice. I have been working on the CEDAR project since September 2023 on Study 1: Media Analysis with Dr. Susan O’Donnell, Dr. Janice Harvey, and fellow research assistant Erin Hurley. In the winter of 2023, I was also a Research Assistant for the Plutonium Project led by Dr. O’Donnell and Dr. Harvey.

My work on Study 1 so far has consisted mainly of article coding. Erin and I have been coding articles from the NB Telegraph-Journal for dominant voices, media types, and energy technologies discussed. Once done with those articles, I started to code articles from the NB Media Co-op in the same way, and I am now attempting to do the same with the French newspaper Acadie-Nouvelle. Étant bilingue, je peux travailler sur ce projet aussi bien en français qu’en anglais !

The plan is to compare 54 articles discussing nuclear technologies from the NBTJ, NB Media Co-op, and the Acadie-Nouvelle to see what ideas and voices are the most dominant in each. This data will be used to write a scholarly article on hegemonic and counter-hegemonic nuclear energy discourses in New Brunswick media.

That’s a little about me and what I do! When I am not working on this project or in school, I like to write, bake, hike, garden, camp, kayak, and read.

We’ve been busy!

We’ve been busy raising awareness and deconstructing the promotional material of the nuclear establishment, in particular the false idea that more nuclear energy should be central to climate action plans. Sharing facts and exposing industry spin about nuclear energy is important work. False nuclear ‘solutions’ to the climate crisis are intended to delay climate action and shift our focus away from the real transition work that we all need to be doing. Check out all our new articles on the publications page.

We’re now preparing to present our research at academic conferences at the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Conference at McGill University in Montreal in June. More on this soon!