New council to advance clean energy projects in remote Indigenous communities 

By Matteo Cimellaro

 Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

A new Indigenous-led council will help advise the federal government on a clean energy transition for rural and remote Indigenous communities, Ottawa announced on Monday.

There are at least 140 Indigenous communities that rely on diesel for electricity, according to a public dataset from Natural Resources Canada.

The fuel is carcinogenic and produces lots of planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions, creating up to 100 times more carbon particles than gasoline-powered engines, according to the federal government.

It is also costly for many remote communities, which pay a premium for having fuel shipped to the North, on top of diesel prices reaching an average of $2.21 a litre in the past four months.

The council will oversee Wah-ila-toos, the new name for Ottawa’s clean energy hub, which will operate on a “single-window access” model, meaning that people leading clean energy projects can access funding in one place without bouncing between different ministries.

Before the “single-window” model was enacted, Indigenous communities were forced to seek funding through a gauntlet of programs, all with different sets of rules, Eryn Stewart, managing director at non-profit Indigenous Clean Energy, told Canada’s National Observer in a previous interview.

For example, a project would have different applications for different steps of the project, Stewart added.

The council is composed of seven representatives from Inuit, Metis and First Nations communities.

Five of the council members are previous Indigenous Off-Diesel Initiative champions, who received funding for leading Indigenous clean energy projects in their communities.

The two remaining council members sit on boards with Indigenous Clean Energy, which helps Ottawa administer the program through training and technical support and assists Indigenous communities in the clean energy transition.

The council will also act as a jury for the Indigenous Off-Diesel Initiative’s second cohort. Its current members will serve until at least fall 2024.


Matteo Cimellaro / Canada’s National Observer / Local Journalism Initiative is a federally funded program.


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