A new program has been rolled out in a number of Manitoba First Nations communities that will look to reduce energy usage and costs, while also looking to help create jobs and opportunities in those communities.
Efficiency Manitoba, a Crown corporation that was created with the goal of reducing energy costs and consumption in the province, has announced that they will provide funding for two years they said will enable 10 First Nations communities to hire and train a community-based Energy Efficiency Advocate.
Those advocates, who will be hired directly from within the communities they will serve, will work to create “community-led” energy efficiency plans, by working with those in their own communities, and with Efficiency Manitoba on projects and programs that would lower their overall energy consumption.
And the province said the program will also bring economic and employment opportunities, and support economic development in the communities that will receive the funding.
“The Energy Efficiency Advocate will be employed by the First Nation, and the energy efficiency upgrades through Efficiency Manitoba’s programs will be completed by local contractors,” Manitoba’s Environment, Climate and Parks Minister Jeff Wharton said in a release announcing the funding.
“This creates job opportunities at the community level and aids in economic recovery from the pandemic. And co-developing these energy-saving initiatives with Efficiency Manitoba is another positive step on the path towards reconciliation.”
The 10 communities that will receive the funding are the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation, Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation, Shamattawa First Nation, Lake Manitoba First Nation, York Factory First Nation, Ebb & Flow First Nation, Red Sucker Lake, Lake St. Martin First Nation, O-Pipon-Na-Piwin Cree Nation and Pine Creek First Nation.
Four of the communities that applied for and will receive funding through the program are represented by Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO), an organization that represents and advocates for 26 First Nations, and several that are located in northern and remote communities in the province.
“I would like to proudly commend our First Nations of Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation, O-Pipon-Na-Piwin Cree Nation, Shamattawa First Nation and York Factory First Nation on being the first MKO First Nations to take advantage of Efficiency Manitoba’s Indigenous Community Energy Efficiency Program,” MKO Grand Chief Garrison Settee said in a statement.
“I am encouraged by the participation of these MKO First Nations in the program, and I am certain more communities will engage in energy efficiency programming as the engagement work of Efficiency Manitoba continues.”
Efficiency Manitoba first announced the program in December and the communities that will now receive the funding are the first to be funded through the program.
They will each receive $40,000 a year for two years to be used towards the salary of each advocate.
The province said it will continue the application process annually for the program and hopes to allow more First Nation communities to participate.
— Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.
Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun