Gathering aims to spark green energy projects in Indigenous communities
Participants from 20 Indigenous communities in Wakefield, Que., to learn about renewable energy projects
People from Indigenous communities across Canada are in Wakefield, Que., this week to learn about ways to develop renewable energy projects in their territories.
They're taking part in an initiative called the 20/20 Catalysts Program, developed by Lumos Clean Energy Advisors and the Aboriginal Human Resources Council.
"They're learning from mentors — Indigenous leaders who've done clean energy projects from around the country, and experts who are in clean energy," said Chris Henderson, president of Lumos.
"So they learn how to develop projects, do community consultation, how to employ people, how to finance projects."
20 participants from across Canada
The 20 program participants represent First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities from nearly every province and territory. They'll spend this week in Wakefield, followed by two more weeks over the summer in Bowen Island, B.C., and Noelville, Ont.
"I'd like to gain some experience in knowing how to manage projects, learn about the community engagement, how to include your community to be involved," said Whiteduck.
"What I hope to learn from this program is to sit at a table with potential partners and know about these opportunities, and kind of have a sense and idea of what the next steps are moving forward."
Eyes on solar, wind, hydro
Henderson estimates there are more than 100 Indigenous renewable energy projects operating across Canada right now. His company acts as an advisor to communities, working with companies and different levels of government to explore renewable possibilities.
In Akwesasne, southeast of Ottawa, the community is currently studying the feasibility of solar projects, according to building officer Corey Tarbell. He sees the benefits in renewable energy projects.
"Jobs, saving energy, climate change, and actually healthier homes too," said Tarbell.
A 'stepping stone'
He said he's enjoyed meeting and learning from his counterparts from across the country, and hopes to visit their communities to learn more about how projects are working.
With utility companies increasingly seeing the potential for investment in Indigenous communities, Whiteduck calls renewable projects "the future" of energy.