Harnessing Our Power: Implementing UNDRIP and Climate Action Through Clean Energy
First Nations Power Authority (FNPA) CEO Guy Lonechild presented on FNPA’s Net-zero vision by 2050 goal and keynote presentation on building a business case for establishing First Nations-owned utilities with Cameron Lutsztig, Keppel Gate Consulting at the 2023 First Nations Energy Summit. Core to FNPA’s mission and vision statements, the presentation built on the need for First Nations in Canada to pursue renewable energy projects that enable greater Independent Power Producer (IPP) capacity. FNPA believes that maximizing equity participation in power projects where possible and working closely with Canadian utilities that understand the importance of First Nations achieving greater economic self-sufficiency and inherent rights to self-determination is key in the journey towards economic reconciliation.
As energy sovereignty is pursued, First Nations in Canada are also advancing ways to help the environment and Canadian utilities cut their reliance on fossil fuels for power generation. It is a tremendous opportunity for First Nations in the west to cut their reliance on Crown Corporation utilities for all their electricity needs. Furthermore, as we see the transformation of the electricity sector towards electrification there is an ever-increasing desire by First Nations governments across the country to implement their rights to self-determination and build partnerships with industry to develop, build, own, operate, and maintain distributed energy assets that build IPP capacity and meaningfully benefit in a net-zero emissions future by 2050.
A ground-breaking agreement signed by FNPA and SaskPower in 2011 is due for renewal with the Saskatchewan government and its Crown Corporation, SaskPower. This innovative agreement allows for a pathway for new cleaner energy power projects to be brought online contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and help green Saskatchewan’s electricity grid. This agreement could act as a catalyst for FNPA’s General and Industry Members to create a new Indigenous Procurement Standard as new electricity markets expand large-scale wind, solar, hydro, small modular reactors, hydrogen and other power sector opportunities with crown utilities, and large industrial emitters.
Be sure to catch CEO Guy Lonechild’s interview with CBC’s ‘On The Coast’ with Gloria Macarenko discussing FNPA’s learnings in Saskatchewan and the growth of IPPs with B.C. First Nations. He believes the time is now to capitalize on the B.C. Premier David Eby’s ambitions to support clean energy development with BC Hydro, where the Premier states, “It is important for Indigenous Nations to have meaningful ownership of electrical energy generation.”
First Nations Power Authority
1 First Nations Way
Atim kâ-mihkosit Urban Reserve
Treaty 4 Territory
On Jan. 18, 2023, the Government of British Columbia and Blueberry River First Nations announced they had reached an historic agreement that will guide the parties forward in a new partnership approach to land, water and resource stewardship. The agreement “ensures Blueberry River members can meaningfully exercise their Treaty 8 rights and provide stability and predictability for industry in the region.”
The Blueberry River First Nations Implementation Agreement is a response to a B.C. Supreme Court decision on June 29, 2021. The decision that found the Province had infringed upon Blueberry River’s Treaty 8 rights “due to the cumulative impacts of decades of industrial development.” The court prohibited the provincial government from allowing further activities, which infringed on Blueberry River’s rights. As well, the decision directed both parties to negotiate a collaborative approach to land management and natural resource development that protects the Nations’ treaty rights.
This agreement will ensure that Blueberry River First Nation is involved in co-stewardship of the land, waters, forests and one that also supports B.C.’s Climate Change Strategy through:
A $200-million restoration fund by June 2025, which supports healing of the land from decades of legacy industrial disturbance;
An ecosystem-based management approach for future land-use planning in Blueberry River’s most culturally important areas, with timelines for new local and watershed level, land use plans;
Limits on new petroleum and natural gas (PNG) development and a new planning regime for future oil and gas activities;
Protections for old forest and traplines during and through planning;
Land protections in Blueberry River’s high-value areas, which includes more than 650,000 hectares of protection from new PNG and forestry activities; and
Wildlife co-management efforts.