Mee-Toos will use approximately $2 million to replace propane heating systems at Pelican Narrows and Lac Deschambault schools with biofuels. The use of biofuels has been shown to reduce the use of fossil fuels by 90%.
For First Nations, some of the benefits are more practical, said Gary Merasty, head of Peter Ballantyne’s group of companies.
“Our communities struggle daily with energy security,” he said. “It impacts fair and reasonable access, cost and reliability for our communities – which has huge and widespread impacts, it has impacts on home heating, it has impacts on traditional activities, whether it’s about continuing traditional hunting, fishing and trapping activities.”
Merasty also said that trying to solve a problem like access to energy can be difficult when it comes to services in small communities with different compositions and spread over large spaces.
“The demographic conflict, where your population is younger compared to the rest of Canada, they are older. Then there is sometimes the jurisdictional chaos that happens. Well, who is responsible, federal or provincial? ” He asked.
Mee-Toos worked to decentralize things and bring them into the communities served by the company. The biomass project should fit well with Mee-Toos as a forestry company.
Meadow Lake Tribal Council Chief Richard Ben said they are looking forward to the two projects they will be working on.
“We are excited to increase our renewable energy generation capacity by participating in the renewable energy economy.”
The MLTC will use $4.3 million of the federal investment to “develop a regional approach to capacity building in renewable energy, energy efficiency and conservation that is led by Indigenous communities for Indigenous communities” .
The Tribal Council and its nine First Nations members will wholly own a solar farm to be built in southern Saskatchewan on First Nations land.
They plan to use it as a springboard to create other renewable energy projects.
The First Nations Power Authority, which includes the Prince Albert Grand Council as the owner, as well as the MLTC and PBCN, has received $1 million for energy planning in communities that currently have no natural gas supply from Sask Energy .
Guy Lonechild spoke on behalf of the FNPA and its goals.
“It’s about being Indigenous-led, making sure Indigenous people are at the forefront of the fight against climate change, working through First Nations on a nation-to- nation with provincial, territorial and national governments and Crown corporations, and to partner with Saskatchewan. Power Corporation, Sask Energy,” he said.
Lonechild also pointed out that Kinistin First Nation member Joshua Thomas, who will be a full-fledged engineer in several months, has been tasked with leading the group’s Community Energy Planning Initiative for Northern First Nations without natural gas.