The Government of Canada is investing in community-led clean energy projects with remote Indigenous communities to support building a low-emissions energy future, moving away from diesel dependency and advancing reconciliation and self-determination.

Member of Parliament for Northwest Territories, Michael V. McLeod recently announced over $640,000 for two projects in the Northwest Territories that will help rural and remote communities combat climate change by reducing their reliance on diesel fuel for heat and power.

“Indigenous communities and companies are showcasing their innovative solutions to combating climate change, all while creating local jobs and advancing self-determination. We congratulate them on their leadership in their energy transformation,” said McLeod.

The first investment of $442,000 is for Paulatuk Community Corporation’s Beaufort Hamlet Energy InitiativeWorking with the Hamlet of Ulukhaktok, this project will develop a community energy plan to support future energy efficiency initiatives and renewable energy projects. This includes increasing energy literacy and skills development to reduce diesel dependency.

“Paulatuk has dubbed itself ‘The South Wind Capital.’ Winter winds often become so strong and persistent they create snowbanks huge enough to bury houses,” said Ray Ruben, chair of the Paulatuk Energy Working Group. “We are grateful to be part of NRCan’s Clean Energy for Remote and Rural Communities program. We just formed our working group and are now embarking on a journey to build new partnerships and to expand people-capacity in our communities. Our goal is to create long-term employment, build local skills, reduce energy costs and reduce our dependence on imported fossil fuels.”

The second investment of $200,000 is for Rat River Development Corporation to build a sustainable wood chip supply chain for the Gwich’in Nation. These wood chips will be locally harvested from willow trees for use in biomass systems in and around Fort McPherson, resulting in more Indigenous employment and participation in economic opportunities in the bioenergy and forestry sectors.

“Our former Chief, the late Johnny W. Kyikavichik, had a vision for a bio-mass project and brought that to light by working tirelessly on the project by obtaining funds, setting up workshops and working together with partnerships and bringing his vision into reality,” said Leslie Blake, president of the Rat River Development Corporation. “The willows and trees have grown rampantly in the area around Peel River, located within the Gwich’in Settlement Area. Studies have shown that these trees can burn in a boiler system used for biomass furnaces that will not only heat the Charles Koe Building (TGC-DGO Office Building) but other infrastructure in the community. With Johnny’s vision for willow heat and employment for community residents, we are moving forward in bio-energy as much as possible to realize the vision of self-sufficiency in alternative energy.”

Both projects were funded through Natural Resources Canada’s Clean Energy for Rural and Remote Communities, a $220-million program to reduce reliance on diesel in rural and remote communities by deploying and demonstrating renewable energy projects, encouraging energy efficiency and building local skills and capacity. The program is part of the government’s Investing in Canada Plan, a more than $180-billion infrastructure investment in public transit projects, green infrastructure, social infrastructure, trade and transportation routes and Canada’s rural and northern communities.

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