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Indigenous communities shape climate leadership programs

New provincial programs will help Indigenous communities cut greenhouse gas emissions, reduce energy bills and create jobs. 

Indigenous communities shape new climate leadership programs

L-R Richard Feehan (Minister of Indigenous Relations), Gerald Cunningham (president of the Metis Settlements General Council), Willie Littlechild (Grand Chief of the Confederacy of Treaty 6 First Nations).

There are 48 First Nations and eight Metis Settlements in Alberta. As part of the government’s Climate Leadership Plan, seven new programs are being launched to help these communities invest in local renewable projects, energy-efficiency audits and training for jobs in a low-carbon economy. 

“Indigenous communities must be full participants in the efforts to protect our air, land and water and these programs will ensure that communities have the ability to undertake measures locally to help protect the earth by reducing the impacts of a changing climate.”

Richard Feehan, Minister of Indigenous Relations

"These programs leverage the carbon levy towards further emissions reductions. They also help make life better for Indigenous communities, building capacity and expertise while saving energy and money.”

Shannon Phillips, Minister Responsible for the Climate Change Office

The initiatives were developed to meet the needs of Indigenous communities and to support the priorities of the Climate Leadership Plan: reducing greenhouse gas emissions, creating jobs, diversifying the economy and increasing community health and well-being.

“Indigenous peoples are seeing the effects of climate change first-hand. We need to address climate change right now and Alberta is making important strides towards addressing this pressing need. These programs are an important step in ensuring Indigenous people are involved in matters, like climate change, that directly affect our lives.”

Grand Chief Rupert Meneen, Treaty 8

Panel discussions, dialogue with Indigenous leaders, workshops and feedback from two successful pilot projects helped inform the new programs.

“Respect for the land is a fundamental value instilled in the Metis people from the day we are born. Our relationship to our land is unique and deeply spiritual – one that casts us as stewards of a great blessing bestowed by the creator. Our land is the beginning of everything. It feeds us, shelters us, clothes us, and in return, we honour it, we protect it, and we endeavor to leave it better than we found it for the next generation. Given how deeply we feel our connection to our land and environment, we are very pleased to see that the Government of Alberta is taking action to tackle the serious challenges presented by climate change.”

Gerald Cunningham, president, Metis Settlements General Council

It is a priority of the province that Indigenous peoples fully participate in the Climate Leadership Plan. The government will continue to work with Indigenous communities and organizations to ensure their priorities, needs and interests are reflected as programming is developed and refined.

“We are pleased that Alberta is investing in Indigenous peoples to address climate change in our communities. The programs announced by Alberta today are one step in supporting those most impacted by climate change and setting the foundation for empowered communities leading climate-change initiatives.”

Audrey Poitras, president, Metis Nation of Alberta

“As an employer and training organization, in the solar energy industry, not only will we be able to offer training to Indigenous peoples and communities, we will be able to offer employment and those avenues needed for indigenous business development in this exciting industry.”

Randall Benson, President, Gridworks Energy Group

The programs are supported by $35 million in grant funding and fall under three categories:

Planning and capacity-building programs:

  • The Alberta Indigenous Climate Capacity Program - grants will help Indigenous communities and organizations increase climate-change awareness and understanding of climate leadership through a variety of activities, including train-the-trainer sessions and climate literacy sessions. ($2.5 million)
  • The Alberta Indigenous Climate Planning Program - grants can be used by Indigenous communities to establish an understanding of local opportunities related to energy production and conservation through the development of Community Energy Plans and Energy Opportunity Assessments. ($2.5 million)
  • The Alberta Community Energy Program - grants are available for Indigenous communities and organizations to determine how energy is being used in their buildings and to identify opportunities to save energy and energy costs through the development of comprehensive building audits. This program began as a pilot last year and is now extended. ($3 million)

Implementation and asset programs:

  • The Alberta Indigenous Energy Efficiency (Retrofit) Program - grants are available for projects that improve energy efficiency in new or existing buildings owned by Indigenous communities or organizations. Grants may be used to cover the costs of upgraded lighting, heating, ventilation and air conditioning system redesign, windows, insulation and roofing. ($14 million)
  • The Alberta Indigenous Green Energy Development Program - grants are available to develop commercial-scale, renewable-energy projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and allowing communities to meet their local energy needs and sell any excess energy into Alberta’s energy grid. ($8 million)
  • The Alberta Indigenous Solar Program - grants will assist Indigenous communities to install solar photovoltaic systems on facilities owned by the community or organizations. This program began as a pilot last year is now extended. ($3 million)

Training and employment:

  • The Alberta Indigenous Green Employment Program - grants may be used by community-based training organizations for employment and training projects aimed at promoting low-carbon economy employment opportunities (such as, solar panel installer, wind turbine technician, spray foam insulator etc.) for Indigenous peoples. ($2 million)

The details of these programs and applications are available on the Indigenous Relations’ website at indigenous.alberta.ca/climate.

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