New Indigenous Council to Play Key Role in Advancing Clean Energy Projects in Indigenous, Rural and Remote Communities

News release

February 13, 2023             Edmonton, Alberta         

Natural Resources Canada

Indigenous Services Canada

Crown Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

As Canada continues to experience the impacts of climate change, particularly profound in the North and Arctic, many Indigenous communities are leading the way in building a resilient clean energy future. To support their vision, the Government of Canada is investing in Indigenous-led renewable energy projects, based on local priorities and innovative solutions that work in their communities. These projects will grow local economies and create good jobs while fighting climate change and protecting the environment in Indigenous, rural and remote communities.

Today, the Minister of Natural Resources, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson; the Minister of Northern Affairs, PrairiesCan and CanNor, the Honourable Dan Vandal; and the Minister of Indigenous Services, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, announced the selection of seven Indigenous leaders who will make up the Indigenous Council that will help guide the transition to clean energy in Indigenous, rural and remote communities.

The Indigenous Council will provide guidance and advice to the Government of Canada on policy and program design and direct engagement with Indigenous partners on accessing resources and funding that reduce diesel reliance.

With the support of an Indigenous consultant team, the Indigenous Council members were selected on the basis of their knowledge and leadership in supporting community-driven clean energy projects. The Indigenous Council is distinctions-based with First Nation, Inuit and Métis representation, and reflects diverse communities, languages, geographies and skills. They will serve on the Indigenous Council until at least the fall of 2024.

In April 2022, Canada announced $300 million in funding to support communities launching clean energy projects such as wind, solar, geothermal, hydro and biomass along with a new, streamlined service model for communities seeking to access resources and clean energy funding. This single window initiative, newly gifted with the name Wah-ila-toos, is a partnership between Natural Resources Canada, Crown Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada and Indigenous Services Canada, with support from Infrastructure Canada, and Environment and Climate Change Canada. 

The Indigenous Council will also support the Government of Canada in its broader efforts to advance Indigenous climate leadership through clean energy. Through this approach, the government aims to improve community access to federal funding and resources, provide more flexible timelines, offer a community-centred approach, and remove barriers to accessing funding for clean energy projects.

The Indigenous Council is also acting as the jury for the Indigenous Off-Diesel Initiative’s (IODI) Second Cohort. This initiative supports clean energy champions and their communities with training, access to expertise and funding for projects that reduce diesel use for heat and power.

The Government of Canada continues to support Indigenous participation and leadership through meaningful engagement with First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities as we move toward net-zero emissions by 2050.


“The newly formed Indigenous Council, Wah-ila-toos, is an important development for our collective advancement toward a more sustainable future. I congratulate all of the members of Wah-ila-toos. The Government of Canada looks forward to your advice and guidance as we work toward reducing diesel reliance, advancing clean energy deployment, and creating economic opportunities and sustainable jobs with First Nations, Inuit and Métis.”

The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson

Minister of Natural Resources 

“Congratulations to the talented individuals who have been selected to lead the very important work of the Indigenous Council to advance clean energy projects in rural, remote and Indigenous communities. Through your expertise and leadership, more communities will have the support they need to advance innovative clean energy projects that address their unique needs — helping to reduce the costs and pollution associated with diesel use and creating socio-economic opportunities for Indigenous communities.”

The Honourable Dan Vandal

Minister of Northern Affairs, PrairiesCan and CanNor

“Congratulations to the new members of the Indigenous Council that will advise Canada on clean energy projects in Indigenous, rural, and remote communities. As stewards of the land for generations, Indigenous Peoples have traditional knowledge and expertise that will help lead our efforts to prevent climate change and to protect the environment. Communities across the country will be better supported to lead new energy projects and help keep the land and air clean for generations to come.”

The Honourable Patty Hajdu

Minister of Indigenous Services

Quick facts

  • The clean energy in Indigenous, rural and remote communities initiative was gifted the name Wah-ila-toos during a ceremony on Treaty 6 Territory in Edmonton, Alberta. Kookum (Grandmother) Barbara Bruce of the Red River Métis Nation, Elder Edna Agnes Ekhivalak Elias of Kugluktuk, Nunavut, and Gaagum (Grandmother) Hilistis Pauline Waterfall of Haíɫzaqv Nation used their mother tongues to create the name that represents the relationships, responsibility, honour and duty to prioritize Indigenous voices in the realms of Indigenous climate leadership.

  • Wah-ila-toos provides funding from NRCan’s Clean Energy for Rural and Remote Communities program and IODI, and CIRNAC’s Northern Responsible Energy Approach for Community Heat and Electricity Program.

  • The IODI is a clean energy training and funding program that supports Indigenous-led climate solutions in remote Indigenous communities that currently use diesel or fossil fuels for heat and power. IODI supports a cohort of participants in their journey — from training through to project implementation.

  • Supporting Indigenous leadership and co-developing solutions to reduce reliance on fossil fuels in First Nations, Inuit and Métis is central to advancing the reconciliation journey and self-determination.

Associated links


Natural Resources Canada
Media Relations

Keean Nembhard

Press Secretary

Office of the Minister of Natural Resources


Kyle Allen

Press Secretary and Communications Advisor

Office of the Minister of Northern Affairs, PrairiesCan and CanNor

Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

Media Relations


Andrew MacKendrick

Director of Communications

Office of the Honourable Patty Hajdu

Minister of Indigenous Services

Media Relations

Indigenous Services Canada


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