Iqaluit workshop focuses on more community ownership of clean energy projects

Participants given opportunity to connect to mentors, build partnerships

Chris Henderson, executive director of Indigenous Clean Energy, speaks to a crowd of about 35 participants at Aqsarniit hotel in Iqaluit Tuesday about hydropower in Indigenous communities. (Photo by David Venn)

By David Venn
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Updated on Thursday, July 14, 2022 at 3:45 p.m.

Having Indigenous people and their communities take charge of their own energy development “decolonizes power, puts power in the hands of people” and is one step toward reconciliation, says the executive director of Indigenous Clean Energy.

That’s what the non-profit organization aims to accomplish through a year-long program, called 20/20 Catalysts Program, which connects Indigenous people to a network of mentors and coaching specialists involved in clean energy project development.

Thirty-five participants from Nunavut, Nunavik and elsewhere in Canada are gathered at the Aqsarniit hotel in Iqaluit until July 17 for the program. They are learning from industry professionals how to get permits for energy projects, build partnerships and audit energy system efficiency.

“Energy is a colonial enterprise. It’s controlled by large corporations,” said executive director Chris Henderson in an interview.

“As we move to a new future of energy that’s more decentralized, that has more community ownership … there’s an opportunity for clean energy to be part of the path of reconciliation.”

This is the organization’s fifth time running the flagship program, and the first time in Nunavut.

Henderson said Nunavut is “on the cusp” of a clean energy transition, and his organization’s goal is to help with that process.

ArchTech founder Alex Cook, who is working on a net-zero energy home in his hometown of Baker Lake, says the program is helping him understand how to build units more efficiently to bring down the cost of construction.

After the home is built, Cook and his team will measure its efficiency by conducting tests, such as seeing how much heat is escaping the unit and how much solar energy the building is retaining.

About 49 per cent of the energy used in Baker Lake goes toward heating homes, which makes solving issues related to housing costs and energy intertwined, Cook said.

To build a cheaper home requires conserving energy and having alternative energy sources.

“One thing that can’t be argued is that if you build more efficient homes, that’s less electrical draw, which means that you have more opportunity to grow your community,” he said.

Cook wants to make a blueprint for a house that other construction companies can use to build affordable housing, creating a model that can be replicated in other communities across the territory.

ArchTech is also using part of $1.6 million it received this spring from the federal government’s Indigenous Off-Diesel Initiative fund to build a new youth centre in Baker Lake.

Andy Pirti, the business manager for Tarquti Energy Inc., will also be attending throughout the week.

He said Tarquti, which is responsible for spearheading clean energy projects in Nunavik, is working on frameworks, plans, community consultations and feasibility studies on new hydroelectricity projects in the region.

The company is looking at communities that already have some capacity to handle new energy projects, such as Puvirnituq, Salluit or Kuujjuaq.

Pirti said the program is helping him learn the stages of development for energy projects, innovations and to stay up-to-date on the industry’s terminology.

“We need to, at a reasonable pace, try and start moving towards these projects,” he said.

Clarification: The article has been updated from an earlier version to better describe the full name and duration of one of the programs mentioned and to clarify the position of one of the speakers. 

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(17) Comments:

  1. Posted by hydro power on

    this article doesnt say about the destruction of our rivers because of hydro power. you build a dam or you build noisey turbines, the fish get scared, the fish cant access their spawning grounds.

  2. Posted by No Moniker on

    Its not surprising to see an entire industry sprout up around the federal government cash flow into what can best be described as the ‘reconciliation’ industry.

    It is important of course to make sure we mouth all the right phrases and sing the right hymns so it is know too all that we ‘represent’ the right approach in all this.

    Now, let us hope the absurdity of ‘decolonizing energy’ will not be noticed. Or, at the very least, that everyone is willing to participate in the illusion along with us.

  3. Posted by Kurious on

    What does decolonized energy mean, are we planning to bring back the qulliq?

    • Posted by Decentralized on

      “As we move to a new future of energy that’s more decentralized”

      I think that’s the key. Clean energy like solar panels can help make the grid decentralized. For example, if everyone has solar panels and one part of town gets damaged, there’s still a power source, compared to just one large building.

      It seems like in this case though, instead of often calling it decentralized, they’re choosing to ride on the decolonization/reconciliation buzz.

      • Posted by Kurious on

        Fair point.

        I find the manipulativeness of the language use condescending and transparent in its calculation.

  4. Posted by Well on

    I would say as long as we move toward more sustainable forms of energy, it is a good thing, whether we do it for reconciliation or to have more a competitive and a more diverse economy, it will be a good long term investment to limit climate change for future generations. We need this. And hydroelectricity definitely has ecological and social impacts, but so does the current system we have; we need to weigh costs and benefit of our current ways as well, and diesel is a problem.

    • Posted by No Moniker on

      No objections to clean energy here, or reconciliation. It seems worth pointing out the conceptual absurdities conjured here to manipulate the direction of funding. There’s nothing ‘competitive’ in that. Granted, in Nunavut we do seem to enjoy these silly games and all the self inflicted wounds they bring.

  5. Posted by Long term sustainability on

    1.6 million for a 1 house and 1 youth center doesn’t seem affordable, looks like Nunavut housing corp prices where they overinflate the costs and tender it out to preferred companies. Who is going to live in that house paid for by the feds? Is it a fed staff house? A blueprint for communities to build million-dollar houses sounds not sustainable at all. Disappointing.

    • Posted by Cost of a Youth Centre on

      Most youth centres in Nunavut have cost over $1million to build out. So making that assumption, that would mean the house is $600,000, which would be considerably less then the cost that Housing corp is building at. Also I assume if the home is more efficient it would also cost Housing less in O&M…. so it seems like it will be both cheaper to build and operate compared to the bid prices you reference……

      • Posted by Long term sustainability on

        Do you know of any youth center built in Nunavut in the past 3-4 years that you could reference costs for? The “net zero” house mentioned above was supposed to be built out of shipping containers so I guess that’s where they are trimming the costs! Another gimmick housing concept, when people are actually dying every year from homelessness.

  6. Posted by Bert Rose on

    “Energy is a colonial enterprise. It’s controlled by large corporations”

    Hunh? Qulliq Energy Corporation is 100% owned by the people of Nunavut.
    If there are cheaper ways to do construction are readers of Nunatsiaq News to believe that the GN is not actively pursuing them?
    While cheering on alternate energy we already spent $12 million on studies related to hydro and got a bunch of paper for that effort.

    • Posted by wrong! on

      QEC has been fighting any type of green energy projects from seeing the light of day in Nunavut. full stop!

      • Posted by Long term sustainability on

        ICE networks lead catalyst for Nunavut is Alex Cook who works at QEC. Prolly good their employees get to work on federal energy contracts for their privately owned company. Maybe ask Alex Cook about QEC clean energy mandates or Archtech, the one building the 1.6 million dollar house/youth center to replicate in Nunavut.

      • Posted by Bert Roze on

        No QEC has not.
        They have introduced Net metering programs and are awaiting legislative approval on Independent Power Producer programs.
        The GN financially supports solar or alternate energy programs in homes and cabins.
        The Federal Green homes programs do the same.

    • Posted by Former NTPC on

      QEC is just a new name for NTPC, which was a NWT Crown Corp. The NWT was an imposed commissioner prior to being allowed by the Federal Gov ( a colonial institution) to form a Government. So yes Energy has been a Colonial Enterprise, and while we call it QEC, its structure, and governance is a colonial systems, not designed by or for Inuit.

      • Posted by iWonder on

        To parse your logic, would you say that everything not designed or created by Inuit is, categorically, ‘colonial’?

        Does this imply that whatever technology we use for energy generation / production going forward must also be designed by Inuit (otherwise it remains ‘colonial’).

        Or is the real point that can we accept technologies not designed by Inuit, as long as Inuit pick them out? If so, isn’t that already the work of our public government?

        • Posted by Tired of the wannabes on

          Some people always coming here to comment using their big words and trying to act smarter while putting us down in their sneaky ways. Some use different names but we can tell they are the same person.


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