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Panel discusses renewable energy in northern communities PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dean Bear   
Tuesday, 20 June 2017 13:23

Members from the U of S, Alaska and Norway discuss sustainable energy for the future. Photo courtesy of Dean Bear.

Lessening the burden on traditional power generation was the focus of a panel discussion at the University of Saskatchewan, which included international guests from Norway, Sweden and Alaska. Nordic countries have been leading the way when it comes to alternative energy sources other than coal, nuclear power and diesel fuel.

In Sweden, nuclear power plants are being phased out in favour of wind power and biomass generation, which is generated from renewable organic waste that would otherwise be dumped in landfills, openly burned, or left as fodder for forest fires.

In Saskatchewan, a majority of power generated comes from coal plants, natural gas and hydroelectric dams, with more wind farms becoming commonplace on the prairie horizon.

Greg Poelzer is with the Department of Environment and Sustainability at the University of Saskatchewan, which hosted the panel on sustainable power. He says Saskatchewan and northern Saskatchewan in particular have great opportunities when it comes to sustainable power development. He says northern communities could become independent power producers and sell produced power back to SaskPower.

"Some of the lessons we can learn from places like Norway and Sweden is the north can do things. We can do hydro, wind, biomass generation and we can do solar," he says. He added that Aboriginal people can be on the forefront in ways similar to Alaska.

In Alaska, 57 Indigenous communities have banded together to form the Alaska Village Electric Cooperative. It uses traditional diesel generators and powerhouses to fuel the communities, but has also tapped into wind power to help those in rural areas access reliable electricity. Poelzer says the same can be done in Saskatchewan.

"Our communities can create micogrids at the community level, whether it’s at Pelican Narrows or Fond-du-Lac, and used their own energy sources like run-off river hydro, solar or biomass, and be tied to that grid is a massive advantage for northern Saskatchewan," he said.

Saskatchewan has some hefty targets of wanting to reach a goal of fifty per cent of the electricity it produces come from renewable energy by the year 2030. While Poelzer says those are lofty goals to producing green energy, he also points out that green energy is only good energy when it is done properly.

"When companies look at doing large-scale projects, then you have to work with communities for proper consultation," he said.

Poelzer says northern communities have taken steps already to become leaders in power generation. He points to the Tazi Twe project at Black Lake that has been put on hold for the time being due to less demand for power from the mining sector.

"Commodity prices are down, and electrical demands are down, but that will swing back around again," he said. "The important lesson here is that you have a First Nations community approach SaskPower about putting a fifty megawatt hydro station on reserve. That has got to be the wave of the future that we all want to share in solutions and share in prosperity."

He says First Nations have the greatest economic advantage the province has when it comes to green energy, as any dollars invested in projects stay in Saskatchewan and help Saskatchewan in the long run.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 20 June 2017 13:51
Regina residential school cemetery to be designated provincial heritage site PDF Print E-mail
Written by Manfred Joehnck   
Tuesday, 20 June 2017 12:44

Photo courtesy of Manfred Joehnck

A tiny residential school cemetery on the western outskirts of Regina will be designated as provincial heritage property.

The official ceremony is expected to take place later this summer. The announcement was made today as part of the government’s commitment to recognize and celebrate National Aboriginal Day Wednesday.

Parks and Culture Minister, Ken Cheveldayoff, says the cemetery needs to be recognized, remembered and understood as part of our shared history.

The minister responsible for First Nations, Metis and Northern Affairs, Donna Harpauer, is encouraging everyone to participate in community events celebrating National Aboriginal Day. She says Aboriginal people are a fundamental part of our province’s history, diversity and identity.

National Aboriginal Day was first proclaimed in 1996.

Saskatchewan NDP MP, Georgina Jolibois, has tabled a private members bill in an effort to have the day declared a statutory holiday.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 20 June 2017 12:47
Building better partnerships with First Nations on display at RCMP Heritage Centre PDF Print E-mail
Written by Manfred Joehnck   
Tuesday, 20 June 2017 12:26

Photo courtesy of Manfred Joehnck

The RCMP Heritage Centre in Regina opened an exhibit today, celebrating the long relationship between Mounties and Canada’s First Nations people.

The display is in recognition of National Aboriginal Day as well as Canada’s 150th birthday. The exhibit is called "Building better partnerships: The RCMP and Canada’s First Peoples." It highlights the partnership and key role played by Metis guides and scouts. In the southwest, it was the RCMP that prevented priests from taking First Nations children from their homes and putting them into residential schools.

File Hills Tribal Council Chief, Edmund Bellegarde, took part in the ribbon-cutting. He says the history between the RCMP and First Nations people has been strained at times, but there has also been a lot of respect and recognition.

"There is good and bad that has happened throughout the years," he said. "I think as society evolves and changes, and actually becomes more tolerant and recognizes and acknowledges First Nations peoples' roles in this country, I think that is what we are looking forward to."

The CEO of the RCMP Heritage Centre is Marty Klyne. He is of Metis and Cree descent, and proud of his heritage. He also takes a lot of pride in the exhibit and encourages everyone to come out and see it.

"I think things like this lend testimony to a reflection of wanting to build relationships and continuing to build partnerships," he said. "The exhibit serves both purposes and it serves the country well to do that."

The display features two tipis, sacred artifacts and traditional First Nations dress.

The exhibit will be open all summer.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 20 June 2017 12:43
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