Canada Invests in Community-Led Clean Energy Projects in the Northwest Territories 

News release

April 1, 2021                                                                   Northwest Territories                               Natural Resources Canada

Canada’s North is experiencing substantial impacts from climate change, and many Indigenous communities have identified clean, reliable energy as key to a resilient future. 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, on behalf of the Honourable Seamus O’Regan Jr., Minister of Natural Resources, today 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.

The first investment of $442,000 is for Paulatuk Community Corporation’s Beaufort Hamlet Energy Initiative. Working 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.

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.

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.

As outlined in Canada’s strengthened climate plan, A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy, ensuring the availability of clean, affordable heat and power options is a priority for the government. The government is investing an additional $300 million to give rural, remote and Indigenous communities currently reliant on diesel the opportunity to be powered by clean, reliable energy by 2030.


“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.”

Michael V. McLeod
Member of Parliament for Northwest Territories 

“Indigenous people and communities are leaders in Canada’s clean growth future. By working together with them, we’re getting good projects off the ground — and great results.”

Seamus O’Regan Jr.
Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources 

“Paulatuk has dubbed itself “The South Wind Capital.” Winter winds often become so strong and persistent they create snowbanks huge enough to bury houses. Kids can literally walk on the roofs and toboggan down the banks. In 2007 we attended a Wind Energy Conference in Tuktoyaktuk, sponsored by GNWT. Experts from Alaska and elsewhere discussed how wind could displace some fossil fuels in our communities. We have stayed in touch with some of those experts, particularly those working in Alaska developing community wind parks to heat their homes. 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. Thank you, Canada, for believing in us and our experts.”

Ray Ruben
Chair, Paulatuk Energy Working Group 

“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. 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. I want to thank Natural Resources Canada for its investment and support in this important project and opportunity for the Gwich’in Nation. We look forward to our continued work with Natural Resources Canada and the Clean Energy for Remote and Rural Communities Program.”

Leslie Blake
President, Rat River Development Corporation 

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Office of the Minister of Natural Resources


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