Governments are increasing the funding for Indigenous green economy programs due to a high level of interest in the Alberta government’s indigenous climate leadership programs.  Government of Alberta photo.

Indigenous green economy program boosts local renewable projects, training for low-carbon industry jobs

On Monday, the Alberta government announced extra funding will be available to First Nations communities interested in developing Indigenous green economy projects.

According to the Ministry of Indigenous Relations, the decision to increase investment in the Indigenous climate leadership programs was a result of a high level of interest in the program by First Nation communities.

“We have heard loud and clear from Indigenous communities that these programs work which is why we have chosen to increase funding,” said Richard Feehan, Minister of Indigenous Relations.

According to Feehan, in 2017, 125 projects in 66 Indigenous communities were completed and “we expect the number of projects to rise this year”.

As well last year, the number of project proposals exceeded the programs’ budget.  The increase in funding will allow more Indigenous communities and organizations to participate in the green economy.

Chief William Morin of the Enoch Cree Nation said “Our mission at Enoch Cree Nation is to invest in our future to preserve our past”.  He added that “green energy investment represents our commitment to uphold our responsibility to be traditional caretakers of the land”.

“The government has taken a true treaty approach to collaboration – today is a day of reconcili-action.”

Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change said the Canadian government is “pleased to support the Enoch First Nation’s leadership to reduce carbon pollution by investing in solar power”.

“Projects like these support economic opportunities and local jobs, while contributing to a more sustainable future for our kids and grandkids.”

She added “this type of collaboration is a central part of Canada’s clean growth and climate action plan”.

The Canadian government provided $7 million to Alberta for the initiatives.  According to a press released issued by the government of Alberta, the province will use the funds in 2017 and 2018 for its Alberta Indigenous Solar Program and Alberta Indigenous Energy Efficiency (Retrofit) Program.

The Alberta government says that over the lifetime of these Indigenous green economy projects, over 36,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases will be avoided per year.  This is the equivalent of taking over 7,000 passenger vehicles off the roads each year.

As well, in 2017-18, about 250 people will receive training to work in the green economy.

The Cold Lake First Nations was able to use money from the Alberta Indigenous Solar Program to install solar panels which will save the band about $150,000 on utility bills over the 25-year life span of the panels and cut over 1.305 tonnes of GHGs .

The Notley government says one of their priorities is to see Indigenous peoples fully participate in Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan and will work with First Nation communities and organizations to ensure their priorities, needs and interests are reflected in the programs.