David Suzuki gives address at SL energy efficiency conference

Pearl Lorentzen
Lakeside Leader

The January 23, 1980 and March 12, 1980 Lakeside Leader have cover page articles about David Suzuki coming to judge the E.G. Wahlstrom science fair. More recently Suzuki gave a keynote address at the Slave Lake Native Friendship Centre. The speculation was that it might be a video conference, but it turned out to be a prerecorded message.

It was specifically made by Suzuki for the Alberta Native Friendship Centres Association (ANFCA) for this conference. The conference was Indigenous Energy Efficiency Champions on October 19, 2019. It was one of four conferences put on by the ANFCA in the four directions of Alberta.

Slave Lake was the location picked for northern Alberta. People attended from High Level, Grande Prairie, other Native Friendship Centres, and the University of Alberta. However, not many Slave Lake area people attended.

Speakers came from all parts of Alberta. Jule Asterisk, from Slave Lake, was on two panels. Mike Gismondi, from Athabasca University, spoke, as did Michael Martin, from ATB in High Prairie. ATB has a program to give loans for energy efficiency including energy efficient appliances, hybrid cars and solar panels.

There was a bit of overlap from other energy efficiency events in the area. Gage Tweedy, from NEWO, spoke at this event and the Métis Nation energy efficiency event in September.

ANFCA Green Initiative organized the event. Alberta is the only Native Friendship Centre network with a Green Initiative. The hope is that the video made by Suzuki and other work done by the Green Initiative will convince other provinces to start their own.

Information included presentations from Atco and First Nations Power Authority (FNPA). FNPA works in Saskatchewan and Alberta to assist First Nations in access to, investment in and getting a share of utilities jobs. On November 19 and 20, it is hosting the second annual Pathway to Powerful Opportunities Gala and fifth annual Indigenous Green Energy Forum at River Cree Casino in Enoch Cree Nation. To register go to eventbrite.ca.

Other organizations present included Energy Futures Lab, Inside Education, and Keepers of the Athabasca.

“Energy Futures Lab is an Alberta-based, multi-interest collaboration designed to accelerate the development of a ‘fit for the future’ energy system,” says an EFL information sheet. “The EFL brings together a cohort of influential leaders to address current and emerging energy challenges, and generate opportunities to identify, test and scale new initiatives and collaborations.”

Members of the lab at the conference were working on hydrogen-fueled big rigs and harvesting burnt trees to make bio-char for agriculture.

EFL is accepting fellowship applications from Oct. 1 to Dec. 8, 2019 at https://energyfutureslab.com/fellowship/.

“EFL will give priority to strong candidates from a few areas with low representation in the Lab such as media, finance, agriculture, Indigenous and Métis,” says the information page.

Topics included the increasing number of jobs in renewable energy, the move toward making energy locally and the impact of agricultural practices on the earth. Industries other than energy companies are starting to make energy. Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries, in Boyle, is generating energy from the pulp waste. It is now a pulp and energy company.

Various resources were also mentioned including www.drawdown.org, a website with many suggests to combat climate change.

The ‘loon’ group at the Indigenous Energy Efficiency Champions on October 19, 2019 at the Slave Lake Native Friendship Centre. Photo courtesy of ANFCA.

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