Canada’s 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan - Annex 2
Assembly of First Nations (AFN)
AFN appreciates the opportunity to provide an annex to the Emissions Reduction Plan (ERP), but the time to do so has been inadequate. In preparation for future ERPs, we suggest building on the Best Practices Guide for Federal Departments Working with First Nations on Climate Change (2020), developed by the Joint Committee on Climate Action (JCCA), to ensure the process is supportive of the full and effective participation of First Nations. To be clear, this annex does not prejudice future input by First Nations, nor is it intended to represent the perspectives of rights and title holders.
The evidence is clear: we are facing a joint climate and biodiversity crisis. The most up-to-date science, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, projects that we have less than ten years to avoid locking in a future where our children are facing the consequences of catastrophic climate change. The United Nations Emission Gap report (2021) projects that we might hit a global annual temperature increase of 2.7 degrees by 2100 unless we take transformative action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030 and reach net-zero by 2050 to keep warming under 1.5 degrees. These statistics align with the observations that First Nations knowledge keepers have been sharing for decades.
In Canada, the situation is urgent. Irreversible warming trends have now been confirmed by the Canada in a Changing Climate Report (2019), identifying that Canada’s climate has warmed by 2.3°C since 1948 and will warm further, on average, at about double the magnitude of warming globally.Footnote 1 This comes as no surprise, as First Nations’ knowledge keepers have been raising their voices, sharing information about the changes that they are observing: changes in species migration, weather, and irreversible impacts to the land. These observations are being formally captured as a growing number of First Nations are adding their voices to the call for rapid de-carbonization to meet the target of the Paris Agreement. One such example is the Vuntut Gwitch'in First Nation (VGFN), in Old Crow, Yukon. Their declaration, entitled "Yeendoo Diinehdoo Ji' heezrit Nits'oo Ts' o' Nan He' aa," which translates into "After Our Time, How Will the World Be?" laid the foundation for the Chiefs-in-Assembly to declare a national climate emergency, in 2019.Footnote 2
In July 2019, the Chiefs-in-Assembly declared a First Nations Climate Emergency, recognizing that “…climate change constitutes a state of emergency for our lands, waters, animals, and peoples.” The resolution laid out some immediate steps for AFN to plan a National Climate Gathering and develop a National Climate Strategy. It directed the Strategy to stress urgent and transformative climate action that reduces emissions in Canada by 60% below 2010 levels by 2030 and reach net-zero emissions by 2050, while simultaneously addressing income inequality within First Nations as part of the mobilization for a just transition. Given this clear mandate, First Nations were pleased to see the Speech from the Throne’s references to Indigenous Peoples and the climate crisis. In December 2020, a new climate plan was released, A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy, committing to “…position Indigenous climate leadership as a cornerstone of Canada’s strengthened climate plan.” In doing this, the plan recognized that “…[s]upporting self-determined climate action is critical to advancing Canada’s reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.” (p. 68-69) Soon after, Canada released an updated greenhouse gas emission reduction target: 40 to 45 percent by 2030.
It is in the recognition that Canada must do its part to address the joint crises of biodiversity loss and climate changeFootnote 3 that we share our submission, with recommendations grouped as responses to the questions identified by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC). To begin, we introduce the First Nations Climate Lens, explore its implications for net-zero and the 2030 emissions target, and then transition into concrete recommendations to improve First Nations considerations in the ERP.
2. A First Nations Climate Lens
First Nations face unique climate risks because of how colonialism, in conjunction with capitalism, has shaped where we live, our socio-economic conditions, and how we exercise our relationships with Mother Earth. These experiences and interconnections cannot be overlooked when contemplating climate related solutions for (or by) First Nations. To better understand this reality, and to advance First Nations climate solutions, the AFN has developed the concept of a First Nations Climate Lens (Figure 1).
Figure 1 – First Nations Climate Lens
A First Nations Climate Lens:
- Circle 1: Context – the legislative, legal and policy ecosystem
- Circle 2: Impacts – the First Nations’ lived reality
- Circle 3: Action – a First Nations’ worldview
This Climate Lens seeks to challenge conventional conceptualizations of First Nations as ‘vulnerable’ populations and the ‘passive recipients’ of climate impacts. Indeed, our unique connections to the land, water, air, and non-human beings have enabled us to live reciprocally and in balance with all of Creation. The cultural, spiritual, and social connection to the land may increase First Nations’ exposure and sensitivity to climate change impacts, but it also provides a unique source of strength, understanding and resilience. The First Nations Climate Lens is based on an alignment of three concentric spheres of activity to help bring into focus the relationships between First Nations’ climate impacts, climate action, and the broader climate context.Footnote 4 It stresses the fact that First Nations are climate leaders and, as such, are active drivers of positive change.
2.1 Applying the First Nations Climate Lens to Net-Zero
The concept of a First Nations Climate Lens has important procedural, conceptual, and substantive applications to the understanding and implementation of net-zero commitments, including the role of the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act. This involves three interrelated considerations.
First, that the commitment to net-zero must not be interpreted as an end goal, where the only focus is on arriving at a point when “…anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere are balanced by anthropogenic removals of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere over a specified period.”Footnote 5 Instead, net-zero must be conceptualized as a process leading to a just, equitable, and resilient future for our future generations, founded on the First Nation’s right to self-determination. The federal climate plan acknowledges this perspective, committing to “…[support] self-determined climate action, which is critical to advancing Canada’s reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.” (p. 68-9) To do so, the process to arrive at a just, equitable, and resilient future must be grounded in the leadership and direction of First Nations (see specific comments in Section 3).
Second, that a First Nations approach will confront the conventional “mitigation-adaptation” dichotomy – the separation between discussions on mitigation or adaptation action – rampant in federal climate perspectives. This is underlined by the absence of references to adaptation in the Net-zero Emissions Accountability Act.Footnote 6 As highlighted by our Climate Lens, the impacts of climate change are inseparable from First Nations lived realities, whether due to climate change or the ongoing legacy of colonialism. For this reason, the conventional mitigation-adaptation dichotomy rarely considers the complex and multi-dimensional nature of First Nations climate solutions – such as returning to the land, a focus on food sovereignty, locally generated power systems, and language revitalization. Given the interconnections between the sectors and systems upon which First Nations rely (e.g., health, food, energy, transportation, etc.), this false dichotomy must be challenged to enable an acknowledgement of holistic, integrated, and systems-based solutions that must address the existential threat that is climate change.
And third, that there is a need for a new narrative that does not rely on technological solutions and market-based approaches that presume a continuation of the structurally inequitable and racist systems that have led us to this compounding environmental crisis in the first place. Rather, instead of embedding a model of tweaking where Canadian oil and gas production increases and is offset by an overreliance on technologies that are not in fact commercially viable,Footnote 7 the Climate Lens offers an opportunity to shift our focus towards the interrelationship between the three C’s – carbon, colonialism, and capitalism – centering an approach rooted in relationships that value the nexus of people and land, and their mutual reciprocity. This approach seeks to enable a reset with the systems and structures that seem to trap us in an unproductive cycle, while advancing the self-determination of First Nations to reclaim their rightful place as Nations.
By applying these considerations to the objective of reaching net-zero by 2050 we hope to deploy the First Nations Climate Lens so as to garner a more progressive and innovative dialogue about climate action; a dialogue that avoids lapsing into failed narratives about balancing economy and environment, or quick-fix technological solutions, and takes up a focus that is rooted in Indigenous ways of knowing and First Nations climate leadership.
2.2 Applying the First Nations Climate Lens to the 2030 Emission Reduction Plan
In the context of this first ERP, the First Nations Climate Lens brings useful insights to the process and scope of future emissions reduction plans. These insights could help to amplify First Nations Climate Leadership and the development of solutions that address both decarbonization and decolonization.
First, while there is now a legislative requirement for the consideration of Indigenous Knowledge in the setting of emissions targets, there is limited opportunity in this brief process to consider what this would mean substantially. For example, based on an understanding grounded in First Nations knowledge systems that we are ‘one with the land and water’ – rather than compartmentalized units apart from nature – all discussions would need to center on the reciprocal relationships that embody our global ecosystem. Such an approach recognizes that First Nations knowledge systems, while unique to each individual First Nation, problematize the drivers of the climate crisis differently than mainstream systems. Put another way, a more meaningful application of the First Nations Climate Lens would begin with establishing a shared understanding of what is driving the climate crisis, and based on that shared understanding, the determination of appropriate actions using this starting point. This deeper conversation is lacking in the current process and may be detrimental to future emission reduction plans by, for example, locking in an ontological path of dependency that force’s First Nations knowledge systems to ‘fit’ into mainstream knowledge systems focused on technology and markets. We seek to broaden this process to be more inclusive in its consideration of Indigenous Knowledge systems.
Second, this ERP must take the Government’s commitment to the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN Declaration) seriously. In this way, solutions proposed for the specific sectors of emissions reductions (i.e., built environment, electricity, industry, oil and gas, transportation, forestry, and agriculture and waste) cannot be separated from the required implementation of the minimum standards contained within the UN Declaration. For instance, and as outlined above, an over-reliance on the development of technological and market-based solutions, without a critical investigation of the inequitable and structurally racist ways that these solutions interact with First Nations-lived realities, will further harm First Nations and may contribute to what has been described as a new form of ‘climate’ colonialism.Footnote 8 This is particularly acute in the context of forestry, agriculture, and other nature-based solutions, where discussions have largely neglected the presence of First Nations’ jurisdiction, rights, and legal systems. Solutions for these sectors cannot disregard their role in advancing decolonization.
Finally, decisions made on the process and scope of the current ERP, for better or for worse, will influence future emissions reductions discussions. To this end, ‘getting it right’ here could help to support the inclusion of First Nations thinking and leadership into the future. In this way, for example, the ERP could internalize the tenets of Seven Generation thinkingFootnote 9 to guide how this ERP is prepared and how an appropriate amount of space is created to ensure future and ongoing discussions that inform the accountability mechanism. A Seven Generation decision-making model requires comprehensive critical thought on balancing benefits in the present with those of future generations. Together, we must ensure these future generations (including the plants, animals, medicines, etc.) have all the benefits and gifts of Mother Earth – such as clean water, a stable food supply, and a livable environment – so that they too can live a rich and meaningful life. All proposed activities in the specific sectors of emission reductions must be explored through this lens, especially those that are predicated on further resource extraction.
3. Response to guiding questions
These applications of the First Nations Climate Lens bring into focus the issues and conversations required to uplift First Nations climate solutions and support the re-framing of the climate conversation towards more transformative and systemic changes. Below, we have outlined preliminary responses to the two guiding questions (see Sections 3.1 and 3.2) but stress that meaningful conversations directly with First Nations rights and title holders must inform further elaboration and responses.
3.1 How can Canada’s first ERP account for the unique circumstances, ambition and leadership of First Nations with regards to mitigating climate change?
This question overlooks the essential role that First Nations’ jurisdiction, rights, and legal systems play in climate change mitigation. To be clear, the source of First Nations jurisdiction is independent of Canada, stemming from the Creator, who placed us on Turtle Island – it is an inherent jurisdiction. In so being, we were instructed on how to interact and make decisions that respect our obligations of stewardship and responsibility for all of our waters and lands. The ERP must reflect and honour this jurisdiction, and the duty to the right to self-determination in structuring climate governance and accountability in Canada. In practice, this means that First Nations jurisdiction, rights, and legal systems cannot be undermined by colonial interpretations. Instead, First Nations must first interpret and describe their inherent rights, grounded in Indigenous law, Indigenous legal traditions, and customary law. These legal orders, which lay the foundation for First Nations’ concepts of self-determination and sovereignty, are essential to initiating true “Nation-to-Nation” dialogues and expressing the respect for our rights and title. A rights-based and responsibilities-based approach to climate accountability is essential to support First Nations Climate Leadership, acknowledging that decarbonization is not a-political, nor an exclusively technocratic exercise.
The ERP must internalize the recognition that First Nations face unique vulnerabilities because of the historical and ongoing legacy of colonization. These practices require climate plans to consider the intersectional and diverse impacts that face First Nations when considering climate solutions.Footnote 10 A framing of Indigenous ‘climate justice’,Footnote 11 while not captured in this Act, could inform how all sector-specific policies are analyzed prior to their release. In Aotearoa New Zealand, similar legislation requires their Minister to include a strategy to recognize and mitigate the impacts of reducing emissions on Indigenous Peoples and to ensure their adequate consultation. It also directs the Minister and the Climate Change Commission to have regard to “the distribution of [impacts of actions to achieve the emissions budget and the 2050 target] across the regions and communities of New Zealand, and from generation to generation” when considering how the emissions budget and 2050 target may realistically be met." This process would attempt to pre-emptively avoid the disproportionate and intersectional potential of harm faced by First Nations.
Finally, First Nations’ sacred responsibility to the planet guides how we interact with, protect, and respect Mother Earth. Though ‘scientific knowledge’ and ‘Indigenous Knowledge systems’ are two distinct forms of knowledge, and one should not be used to validate the other, there are existing collaborative frameworks, such as ‘Two-eyed Seeing’ and ‘Ethical Space’, that could be used to operationalize the braiding of diverse knowledge systems for our collective and future benefit. While there is a legislative commitment, it remains unclear how this is reflected or appreciated in the framing of the current question, and the tight timelines.
- Review all proposed sector-specific emissions reductions activities through the First Nations Climate Lens, considering the minimum standards of the UN Declaration, the principles of equity, justice, and decolonization, and Seven Generations thinking.
- Ensure that all emission removal methods contemplated – such as nature-based solutions and carbon capture, utilization, and storage – uphold First Nations right to self-determination, including the minimum standard of free, prior, and informed consent.Footnote 12
- Acknowledge the inherent limitations of the current process and create space for direct First Nations involvement with equitable and sustained funding, including in aligning with the exploration of a First Nations Climate Leadership Agenda.
- Develop clear operational guidance for the braiding of First Nations and mainstream knowledge systems, informing the conceptualization of the drivers of the climate crisis and the emission reduction targets.
- Align all future ERP processes with the eight-principles outlined in the Best Practices Guide for Federal Departments Working with First Nations on Climate Change.
3.2 Are there any First Nations-led plans, policies, and strategies on climate change which you think should be reflected in Canada’s ERP?
The Chiefs-in-Assembly have been clear in their expectations for Canada’s updated emission reduction target by calling for: urgent and transformative climate action that reduces emissions in Canada by 60% below 2010 levels by 2030, and to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. As such, we strongly recommend the following:
- Update the 2030 target to align with the Chiefs-in-Assembly Declaration of a First Nations Climate Emergency.
Given the time constraints, we did not have sufficient capacity to survey First Nations-led plans, policies, and strategies on climate change, however, we stress that this must be a central part of the plan for the full and effective participation of First Nations in the future development of subsequent ERPs. That said, there may be some lessons that can be drawn from the series of concurrent dialogue sessions held at the inaugural AFN National Climate Gathering in Whitehorse (2020), summarized in the Gathering Report.Footnote 13
The magnitude of this challenge will require a transformational shift in the approach that Canada and the world take to address the climate crisis. Current approaches are failing, as emissions and inequality rise exponentially. We have laid out some recommendations to respond to the two guiding questions, as well as some applications of the First Nations Climate Lens to net-zero and the emissions reduction plan. Combined, this application of the First Nations Climate Lens to federal climate accountability must enable more meaningful conversations about how First Nations’ solutions can re-frame the conversation and lead to transformative systems change.
Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami
Climate priorities and goals
Inuit are committed to joint climate action in partnership with the Government of Canada. We see emissions reduction targets as a key part of this action. It is difficult to provide input on a plan without a draft to review or concrete information on what the plan will contain, including the approach, key measures, sectoral strategies, and how Inuit will be part of finalizing the plan. Sharing a draft plan with us for review and comment is the appropriate next step.
As you know, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami released the National Inuit Climate Change Strategy in 2019. This strategy was developed by the National Inuit Climate Change Committee which includes representation from the four regional land claim organizations. It identifies actions to meet Inuit adaptation, mitigation, and resilience-building needs. It focuses on five priority areas: knowledge and capacity; health, wellbeing, and the environment; food systems; infrastructure; and energy. It provides a policy blueprint for how governments can partner with Inuit to better manage the risks climate change poses to our communities and way of life as well as how to support Inuit communities in transitioning to renewable energy. This strategy outlines the Inuit vision, priorities, and recommendations for climate action that should be reflected in the ERP.
Climate change in Inuit Nunangat
The economy and way of life in Inuit Nunangat are unique in Canada. Inuit live in isolated communities heavily reliant on air transportation to reach other parts of Canada. Furthermore, Inuit are subject to extreme socio-economic inequities in relation to southern Canadians, are vulnerable to emergencies, disasters, and climate change, and face an extremely high cost of living. Because of these realities, the ERP must consider Inuit Nunangat as unique relative to the rest of the country. It must include clear provisions on how the plan will affect the region such as:
- How will the federal government ensure that measures taken as part of this plan will not exacerbate inequities between Inuit and non-Inuit?
- How will the federal government ensure that measures taken as part of this plan will not exacerbate vulnerabilities of Inuit communities?
- How will the federal government ensure that measures taken as part of this plan will not increase the cost of living for Inuit communities?
- Does the federal government aim to reduce emissions generated in Inuit Nunangat?
- If so, by what amounts and from what sectors?
- Does the federal government plan to include the use of carbon markets in the ERP?
- How does the federal government plan on working with Inuit in order to co-develop policies and programs related to the ERP? What is the plan for ongoing and meaningful engagement and collaboration as Canada works towards net-zero GHG emissions by 2050?
Diesel is the almost universal method of electricity generation. A reduction in fossil fuel use from electricity generation presents the greatest opportunity for greenhouse gas emissions reduction in Inuit Nunangat. Diesel power plants are expensive to maintain, produce health, environmental, and economic concerns, and leave communities vulnerable to supply disruptions. Current off-diesel initiatives have been insufficient in catalyzing the economically sound transition to sustainable alternatives. Any plan involving goals for Inuit Nunangat should include a strong renewal of the off-diesel commitment with the political will and resources to achieve real change.
Inuit encourage continued engagement and support of regional and community driven energy solutions leading to Inuit energy independence. The Kivalliq Hydro-Fibre Link is an example of an Inuit-led project to deliver renewable energy and broadband internet to the Kivalliq region of Nunavut from Manitoba. This project would be the first infrastructure link from the rest of Canada to Nunavut. This project would provide cheaper electricity, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and provide economic opportunities for the region.
Another example of an Inuit-led solution is the Innavik Hydroelectric Project in Inukjuak, Nunavik. The power created by this project will replace the community’s need for diesel for electricity, hot water, and heating buildings. This project will provide employment, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and reinvest revenue in the community. Construction is expected to be complete this year.
The Government of Canada should ensure that there is a systemic Inuit-specific and Inuit Nunangat approach as part of the ERP and that this is developed in close partnership Inuit representative organizations. Inuit look forward to continuing to work closely together to advance Inuit climate priorities and to ensure Inuit views are included in this and future emissions reduction plans.
Métis National Council
Climate change is the greatest challenge of our time, and this could not be truer for the Métis Nation. Métis hunters have to travel further to find wildlife, berries, medical plants and food sources. Traditionally, Métis women have been responsible for stewarding the land and teaching Métis youth how to maintain balance within their lives, this includes living in balance with the environment. These traditional roles are challenged by the ongoing impacts of colonization and are further threatened by climate change. Many Métis families do not have access to affordable and adequate housing making it more difficult to deal with the extreme heat and cold brought on by climate change. Métis trappers are losing their traditional traplines to forest fires, Métis families are struggling to put food on the table due to an increase in food prices and limited access to traditional foods, and Métis children are at the forefront of this challenge. Extreme weather events such as flooding, wildfires, and extreme heat are affecting human health and wellbeing. The land is our life: this is the key message of the Elders from Métis communities. The Métis were given a place and a purpose by the Creator: The Métis were to be stewards of the traditional lands bestowed upon them, upon which they gained their identity as distinct Indigenous Peoples. This is the Métis way of life. At a gathering in 2019 to discuss the impacts of climate change on the caribou in North-West Saskatchewan, an Elder reminded us that one of the greatest species at risk due to a changing climate is our children. When our language, culture and entire way of being is tied to the ever-changing land and waters, the Métis Nation will not just stand by.
The Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) has expressed commitments related to clean growth and climate change as part of their mandate to lead the implementation of Canada’s climate action plan, including a priority towards continuing distinctions-based reconciliation and collaborating with the Métis Nation to recognize Canada’s climate action goals. Mitigation including the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is a big part of taking action on climate change. However, the Métis Nation does not want to tackle climate change from a single lens approach. Everything is interconnected, and so the Métis must take an integrated approach to minimize climate impacts. Therefore, the Métis Nation will be weaving conservation and stewardship throughout this work.
Additionally, Métis Nation Governing Members (GMs) will need support to accurately assess the GHG emissions of their citizens, businesses and infrastructure. This data is invaluable to reducing GHG emissions across the Métis Nation Homeland and will allow for better forecasting of potential climate impacts to Métis communities. The Métis Nation is a part of that growing voice that is demanding to have a seat at the table, to be substantially supported and included as Indigenous Peoples.
Métis citizens have shown their support for their governments designing and undertaking climate change initiatives and programs, including actions aimed at reducing GHG emissions, increasing Métis involvement and awareness of climate change, while creating capacity and economic opportunities for Métis citizens. On one hand, the Métis Nation supports Canada’s ambition to reach 40-45% below 2005 GHG emissions by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050 and sees Métis Nation citizens as active partners in reaching and exceeding these goals. Yet, on the other hand, there is currently no long-term, sustainable framework and funding to support the Métis Nation in undertaking self-determined climate action. We must be part of any climate solution, including the Emissions Reduction Plan, but there must be an adequate framework and funding to support these solutions.
The Métis Nation priorities on mitigation are as follows:
- Renewable Energy
- Built and Natural Infrastructure
- Green Economy
- Métis-Driven Research Opportunities
- Education and Training Tools
- Nature-Based Solutions
- Climate Emergency Response and Preparedness
The global market for renewable energy is expanding rapidly. Renewables are now cost-competitive with fossil fuels in many markets and are established around the world as mainstream sources of energy. The world now adds more renewable power capacity annually than it adds (net) capacity from all fossil fuels combined.
There is already work on renewable energy taking place within the Métis Nation Homeland. For example, the Métis Nation of Alberta’s (MNA) Climate Change Action Plan focuses on GHG mitigation through the development of renewable energy projects. In partnership with Métis Nation Holdings, Apeetogosan, Métis Capital Housing Corporation, Métis Urban Housing Corporation and MNA Regions and Locals, 35+ MNA and MNA Affiliate-owned sites have been identified, funded for micro-gen solar projects, and provided with project management support. The projects have a cumulative capacity of over 520 kW will generate approximately 572,000 kWh and offset roughly 367 tonnes of CO2e annually (11,000+ tonne CO2e over the lifetime of the project). This is equivalent to offsetting the electricity consumption of nearly 80 Alberta homes.
Furthermore, with the appropriate financial support, Métis communities could be candidates to host community-owned renewable energy projects or distributed power projects undertaken in collaboration with Crown or private utilities. Most jurisdictions now have a mandate to increase the power supply generated from modern renewable sources. Community-owned renewable energy projects are generally locally owned and operated, and are designed to provide local economic and social benefits. Community members typically control the definition, management and execution of the project so that the goals of the project align with the goals of the local community. These projects commonly involve electricity production, but can also involve the production of heating and transportation fuels. Project size can vary from producing only a few kilowatts of energy to several megawatts or more.
Community-owned renewable energy projects are an opportunity to develop capacity within the Métis Nation and will provide economic, environmental, and social benefits to all partners.
- Increased local economic activity
- Stable revenue source for the community
- Energy dollars remain in the community
- Spurs rural economic development, diversification and job creation
- Generation of revenue from the sale of electricity. Renewable energy projects will allow the GMs to direct project revenue to fund a variety of social and additional economic development initiatives and programs for the benefit Métis in a financially sustainable manner.
- GHG emissions reduction from generation of renewable electricity from the project.
- Using project revenue to fund other environmental initiatives. The GMs would seek to continue work on Climate Change Action and other environmental initiatives.
- Build community leadership, governance, entrepreneurism, and expertise
- Partnership-building between indigenous and non-indigenous communities. Community-owned renewable energy projects provide opportunity for collaboration between indigenous communities, industry and local communities
- Alignment with Métis traditional values. Renewable energy generation aligns with the Métis values of self-sustainability. Métis traditional knowledge reflects an environmental perspective that advocates for careful use of renewable and non-renewable resources. Sustainability means finding a balance between the environmental and economic needs. The establishment of this infrastructure in the Métis community will lay the foundation for the future in prioritizing innovative and sustainable energy sources. The GMs will continue to take the initiative to ensure that a sustainable way of living is fostered for generations to come. The project will serve as a model for shared ownership and shared values, playing a central role in demonstrating the viability of scaled renewables within multiple contexts.
The renewable energy market is an extraordinary opportunity for Métis communities, both to contribute to the reduction of climate emissions and to build a green local economy with quality jobs and businesses. The Métis National Council (MNC) and GMs will further engage with Métis citizens in developing realistic and achievable goals.
Built and natural infrastructure
In a low-carbon, clean growth economy, buildings and communities will be highly energy efficient, rely on clean electricity and renewable energy, and be smart and sustainable. Making the built environment more energy efficient reduces GHGs, helps make homes and buildings more comfortable and more affordable by lowering energy bills, and can promote innovation and clean job opportunities. Residential energy efficiency improvements helped Canadians save $12 billion in energy costs in 2013, an average savings of $869 per household.
The housing conditions of 33,185 Métis households fall into the category of “Core Housing Need.” This designation means that the home does not meet one or more standard, defined by CMHC, for:
- Adequacy (it does not need major repairs);
- Suitability (it has sufficient bedroom space for occupants); or,
- Affordability (it costs less than 30 per cent of before-tax household income) standards.
To obtain alternative local market housing that meets all three standards, the occupants would have to spend 30 per cent or more of their before-tax income to pay the median rent (including utility costs). Approximately 9,824 homes owned by Métis and 23,255 units being rented by Métis are classed as being in core housing need. Core housing need is 31% higher for Métis households (16.2%) compared to non- Aboriginal households (12.4%). It is fair to say that there is a correlation between housing adequacy and housing energy performance. Clearly, there is an opportunity to upgrade Métis housing in terms of energy performance which can bring Métis social housing providers into the climate action process.
Appropriate investments will further support GMs, their housing corporations and agencies to have an opportunity to collaborate with federal and provincial housing authorities and programs to:
- Conduct energy audits and retrofits of existing Métis social housing units;
- Explore opportunities to build new housing at Near- or Net-Zero Energy standards; and,
- Work with Métis in market housing to encourage, support and deliver retrofit programs.
Providing energy audit services will help address identified access barriers to cost-relief programming for Métis households. Métis Nation – Saskatchewan has already been working on developing training elements to educate local energy auditors. As well, Métis learning institutions can collaborate with agencies and educational institutions to deliver training on energy retrofit and construction practices. This will ultimately help support Canada in meeting its reduction goals.
Investments are needed to ensure that the MNC and all GMs can implement this sustainability measures to help Canada meet its emissions reductions targets, while increasing the capacity and financial sustainability of GMs. Resources are needed to:
- Provide MNC, GMs and their institutions with tools to set clear, measurable greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction targets to achieve from their institutional operations.
- Support MNC, GMs and their institutions with resources, skills, and expertise in developing and implementation of climate action plans, including support in setting, tracking, and accomplishing their GHG emissions reduction targets.
- Implement GHG emissions reduction actions at MNC, GMs and their institution buildings. Examples could include energy efficiency retrofits, installation of micro-gen solar, waste/water use reduction initiatives. The MNA has already completed multiple energy efficiency audits that are ready to be implemented with financial support.
There are many Métis-owned businesses across the Métis Nation Homeland, and as Canada shifts toward a green economy that is globally competitive yet supportive of climate action, the Métis Nation wants to ensure our citizens’ businesses are contributing to this solution. The Métis Nation relies on the resource sector (oil/gas, forestry, agriculture, mining, etc.) for employment and economic growth. However, global demand for clean technologies is significant and increasing; it is, in fact, an unprecedented global opportunity.
Fostering and encouraging investment in clean technology solutions can facilitate economic growth, long-term job creation, and environmental responsibility and sustainability. Taking action on climate change will help to capture new and emerging economic opportunities, including for Indigenous Peoples and northern and remote communities. The window of opportunity exists for Canada to create the conditions for new clean technology investment and exports and seize growing global markets for clean technology goods, services, and processes. For example, Métis farmers can adopt methods, such as enhanced crop rotations, crop residue management, tree planting, and holistic resource management, to increase on-farm carbon sinks. Métis forest companies can adopt sustainable forestry methods that improve forest carbon sinks. Opportunities exist to obtain carbon credits for climate friendly farming and forestry methods. Métis communities and businesses could collaborate with carbon-offset aggregators to develop regional carbon offset opportunities. Métis Nation – Saskatchewan has already been working on the creation of a global assessment tool for carbon offsets in water, a scientific tool that could yield multiple new offsets for Canada as our country sits on 20 percent of the world’s total fresh water supply. As well, it will be critical to support Métis Knowledge systems in developing these new opportunities.
Métis communities in the forest zone can explore collaborations with adjacent sawmills or pulp mills to establish spin-off enterprises to produce biogas and pellets or, where feasible, to use excess heat for district heating systems. Incentives can be created to purchase high-efficiency wood heating equipment.
Through increased investments, MNC will further support GMs to explore diverse opportunities as well as to work with the federal government and diverse venture capital funds to provide additional capital to Métis Nation financial institutions so they can support start-up and expansion of clean, green Métis businesses.
Métis-driven research opportunities
Trying to tackle the climate crisis is overwhelming, especially when the Métis Nation faces competing priorities such as addressing housing and poverty concerns, disproportionate health risks, and food insecurity to name a few. However, climate change can also inspire compassion, optimism and personal growth by finding ways to be a part of the solution. There is still a clear need to establish a record of data and Métis knowledge on climate change that would be available for shared government-to-government work on climate change. Métis Knowledge is an essential part of Métis Nation climate action and support for Métis driven research opportunities is required to ensure this knowledge is part of joint climate action between the Métis Nation and Canada.
Education and training
The Métis Nation is requesting federal investments to strengthen its capacity to better understand, identify and respond to climate. The most effective way to tackle the current climate crisis is through education. As Canada works toward reaching its 2030 emissions targets and achieving a net zero economy in 2050, it will need a skilled labour force capable of generating the economic activities, infrastructure and assets that reduce carbon emissions and pollution, enhance energy and resource efficiency, and prevent the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Canada has a responsibility to ensure that Métis people have access to the skills and education necessary to thrive and become leaders in the green economy.
Métis Governing Members and their affiliated training institutions provide education and training services to their citizens and are well placed to support transition to a green economy and position Métis citizens for success in this transition. With the appropriate resources, Governing Members will be able to provide programs for Métis citizens seeking education and employment in green sectors with financial and counselling support as well as potential work placements to facilitate their entry and success into the green economy. Additionally, Métis women are well placed to participate in education and training opportunities related to climate change. This will allow Métis women to harness their Traditional Knowledge in the area of environmental stewardship and intergenerational knowledge transfer to contribute to climate action.
Climate change poses a risk to the natural environment, but also to the ability of Métis citizens to continue to have healthy and resilient communities and engage in current fields of employment and business. There may be a significant opportunity for the Métis Nation to participate in nature-based solutions to climate change through the protection of areas that sequester carbon, the management direction and goals of forestry, the protection of wetland integrity, establishment of riparian buffers and reforestation of river banks, the conversion of non-forest lands into forests, the protection of existing natural spaces, responsible development and to participate in new green initiatives that may arise due to policy changes at the federal and provincial levels. We foresee that understanding of the land and water base of the every province involving Métis land will provide a basis for a range of natural and altered habitats pose both risks and opportunities for the Nation. To create resiliency for Métis communities and to ensure that inclusion in green opportunities is maximized we have identified lands and resources as a priority area of concern.
Climate emergency response preparedness
Resources are needed to ensure the MNC and GMs are ready when the next climate disaster hits. GMs need to perform risk assessment for climate impacts on Métis populations across Canada. Resources are needed to develop an emergency preparedness plan to respond to Métis people’s needs during and after climate disasters, such as floods, droughts, fires by procuring resources to be able to implement the plan when disasters happen.
Adapting to and mitigating climate change is imperative for the Métis Nation. Not only is it about keeping our citizens healthy (physically, mentally and spiritually healthy) but it is about doing our best for future generations and all life on this planet. A green economic recovery plan is something that the Nation deeply supports and wants to be a part of. Not only does it mean that we can develop solutions to adapt to and mitigate climate change, but it also means we can do so by further supporting Métis businesses, Métis communities and families which helps meet our economic development goals.
Supporting Indigenous Leadership can look like many things, but ultimately, it is about trust. The Métis Nation wants to co-develop climate action plans with municipalities, provinces, and the federal governments. However, this needs real, sustainable investment, real commitment to collaboration and open, transparent dialogues. This means moving away from proposal based approaches and looking at budget set-asides so that the Nation can meet our climate priorities as well as support these types of dialogues more frequently and more meaningfully.
We are in a climate and biodiversity crisis, which means we need to think and act quickly. However, that does not mean we need to do so in a way that is non inclusive of the Métis Nation. We look forward to dialogues like this, as it is an opportunity to build relationships and carve a way forward together. However, these discussions need to lead to concrete action plans and meaningful outcomes. There are examples of good models, but to support Métis Climate Leadership it means investment (as mentioned) that is co-developed, governed and administered by the Nation.
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