The Clean Energy in Indigenous, Remote and Rural Communities Hub gifted an Indigenous name

At a ceremony held on February 6, 2023, on Treaty 6 Territory at the Northern Forestry Centre in Edmonton, Alberta, the Clean Energy in Indigenous, Remote and Rural Communities Initiative was gifted the name Wah-ila-toos, a blend of Indigenous languages and cultures that reflects important relationships with Indigenous partners.

Wah-ila-toos is a single window access for Indigenous, rural and remote communities to obtain Government of Canada funding and resources for clean energy initiatives. Wah-ila-toos’ mission is to provide funding for renewable energy and capacity-building projects and related energy efficiency measures in Indigenous, rural and remote communities across Canada.

The name was gifted by three Elders and Grandmothers following several months of discussions with the Government of Canada and with support from Indigenous climate leaders and the department’s Circle of Nations, a gathering place for employees to learn about Indigenous culture, traditions and current reality.

Kinship with all

Inspiration for the name came from the Elders and Grandmothers, youth and breath from their sisterhood, spirit and soul. Wah-ila-toos comes from wâhkôhtowin, ilagiit and waa-wax-toos

The Government of Canada is honoured to receive this new name. Wah-ila-toos serves as a reminder that we are all related, that we are all in a relationship with everything and everyone, and that we are all kin.

We are guardians of this new name. We are connected to the elements and to all beings of all kinds. Wah-ila-toos is about the “spirit” of the name along with the “Spirits” who helped us come to the name.

Meaningful relationships

The birth of Wah-ila-toos is crucial to the centrality of Indigenous voices in the clean energy space and meaningfully reflects our commitment to reconciliation. With the gift of this name, it becomes the responsibility of staff at the related departments involved in administering the initiative (Natural Resources Canada, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, Indigenous Services Canada, and Environment and Climate Change Canada) to continue to work with our Indigenous partners and the Indigenous Council and strive to uphold principles of respect and cooperation in effort to protect the environment for generations to come.

Wah-ila-toos builds on the path of Nòkwewashk, which received its Indigenous name in March 2022, symbolizing the growing and meaningful relationships the Government of Canada is seeking to establish with Indigenous partners. The gifted name represents the relationships, responsibility, honour and duty to prioritize Indigenous voices in the realms of Indigenous climate leadership.

Most Indigenous communities have naming ceremonies, but each has its own practice that differs in terms of when and how the ceremony happens. A spirit name, given by community Elders, will embody what that program is, its mission and its responsibility of carrying that name.

A name is gifted, rather than just given, as the recipient has to accept the name and responsibilities tied to having that name.

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