Minister Vandal announces funding to build a greener future in the Dehcho Region, creating jobs and making life more affordable
Oct 31, 2022 — Northwest Territories, Dehcho Region — Crown−Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
The Dehcho Region is aiming to reduce its reliance on costly, highly polluting diesel with two new initiatives that will increase energy efficiency, create jobs and explore clean energy opportunities for its communities.
The Kǫ́ kǫni: New Fire-New Energy Project, led by Northern Loco, is helping communities build capacity for a greener future, with Indigenous Knowledge and culture central to the project. The initiative created a community energy committee that is identifying energy priorities and raising awareness of energy efficiency while hiring and training interns and local electricians to implement clean energy projects. The initiative is building capacity, supporting the local economy by creating job opportunities, and will lower heating and electricity bills through energy conservation to make life more affordable for Northerners while also fighting climate change.
Building on the success of the New Fire-New Energy Project, the team that undertook this work is now launching a new energy business called Gonezu Energy. This Indigenous-owned energy company is now working with Dehcho First Nations to develop a regional energy plan that aims to reduce energy consumption and dependence on fossil fuels.
Today, the Honourable Dan Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs, announced that Canada's Northern Responsible Energy Approach for Community Heat and Electricity Program (Northern REACHE) provided $350,000 to Northern Loco for the New Fire-New Energy Project and $350,000 to Gonezu Energy to undertake regional energy planning as part of Dehcho First Nations' regional climate change strategy.
Many communities in the North continue to rely on diesel for electricity and heat, which contributes to climate change and is costly and polluting. Northern REACHE supports Indigenous and northern communities in reducing their dependence on diesel fuel for electricity and heating by supporting community-driven, innovative clean energy projects such as solar, wind, hydroelectricity, biomass heating, and energy efficiency, along with related capacity-building initiatives.
"Our government will continue to be a strong partner and is supporting local and Indigenous-led clean energy projects across the North and Arctic. These projects will play an important role in reducing reliance on diesel for electricity and heating while reducing pollution and energy costs. Providing cleaner energy will protect the environment and well-being in northern and Indigenous communities, all while making life more affordable. This is truly a win-win-win, and I congratulate and thank all partners for their work in bringing this project forward."
The Honourable Dan Vandal, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Northern Affairs
"Gonezu Energy Inc. is proud to work with its Indigenous government partners to create opportunities for Indigenous community members in the renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors. The funding from CIRNAC's Northern REACHE Program and the connections we have made throughout this work have enabled Gonezu Energy to begin developing capacity in the renewable energy and energy efficiency fields by working with Indigenous community members from across the Dehcho Region. This initial work will lay the foundations of larger projects in both fields that will be led by and for Indigenous Communities."
Jason Collard, CEO
"Gonezu Energy has been working with Dehcho First Nations to develop a regional energy strategy that will convert our communities to renewable energy that will maximize the benefits to the individual communities. In working with Gonezu, we have engaged in small-scale infrastructure and capacity-building programs that provide a myriad of benefits in individual communities and across the region."
Alison de Pelham, Executive Director
Dehcho First Nations
"Supporting Indigenous leadership in the fight against climate change is a priority for this government. These two initiatives in the Dehcho Region demonstrate how the transition to clean energy is creating opportunities for northern Indigenous businesses – leading to solutions created in the North for the North."
Member of Parliament for Northwest Territories
Through the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, the Government of Canada committed to supporting and partnering with Indigenous and northern communities as they take action on climate change.
This commitment was reinforced by Canada's Strengthened Climate Plan, which committed to investing an additional $300 million over five years to ensure that rural, remote and Indigenous communities that currently rely on diesel have the opportunity to be powered by clean, reliable energy by 2030.
Building on these investments, Budget 2021 provided $40.4 million over three years, starting in 2021–22, to support the feasibility and planning of hydroelectricity and grid interconnection projects in the North to help communities transition to clean energy and reduce their reliance on diesel and other emissions-intensive sources of energy.
To date, the Northern REACHE Program has invested more than $35.3 million in 153 projects across the North.
For more information, media may contact:
Office of the Honourable Daniel Vandal
Minister of Northern Affairs
Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
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