Indigenous Energy Sovereignty: Beaver Lake Cree Nation’s Solar Move

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples contains many provisions that affirm rights related to the causes, impacts and solutions to climate change and environmental injustices. Indigenous Peoples globally are asserting their right to self- determination and exercising the rights, as outlined in the Declaration, and they are doing so in multiple ways. One of those ways is looking at sustainable energy solutions that drive economic development, protect species at risk, and above all put the rights of Ohkawiymowaskiy (Mother Earth) first.

Indigenous Peoples are on the frontlines of climate change. We are experiencing low water levels, higher than normal temperatures, which are affecting the way in which we exercise our inherent and Treaty Rights to hunt, trap, fish, gather, and forage.  We are seeing changes in migration patterns of species and loss of plants and medicines, all of which we rely on. Combined with land disruption from fossil fuel development, climate change impacts our ability to even exist as a people.

Alberta creates 37% of Canada’s overall emissions, accounting for 66 metric tonnes GHG/person, the second highest in Canada. Alberta’s largest single contributor is the oil and gas sector, representing 46% of overall emissions coming out of the province.  It is statistics like this that drove me to take an active role in participating in addressing the issues that perpetuate climate change.

Through the combined efforts of the Beaver Lake Cree Nation (BLCN) team and the Keepers of the Athabasca, we have been able to start on the path to Indigenous Energy Sovereignty. By installing solar in our community, we are changing the political and economic ideologies of our children who grew up in the oil and gas era and within systems that put profit over health and life.

I am a firm believer in lifelong learning. The more we see educational principles that support Indigenous knowledge systems and teachings — while moving away from the tokenized checklist that supports globalization and capitalism with the exploitation of our Mother Earth and her resources as its driving force — the quicker we will begin to address the transmission of intergenerational trauma that is creating communities in crisis.  

Inclusion of Indigenous knowledge systems in the energy systems we develop is a part of the decolonization and reconciliation process. If we are conscious of the energy choices we make, then putting in renewable energy systems, like solar, that move us closer to sovereignty, becomes an act of colonial resistance and the start of a path to reconciliation and addressing the intergenerational trauma that comes from the on-going desecration of Mother Earth for fossil fuel extraction. This is what this 24.65kW PV Solar Project stands for within the BLCN.

By installing this solar project on our school, the first of many solar projects we hope to install, we are shining a light of Indigenous resistance for other nations to follow, and a path to reconciliation for all those that claim to believe in it. This is another step in a long journey, but together we can build energy systems in line with the ecological limits of the planet and within the life systems of the original caretakers of these lands. 

As I’ve said before, “If you breath the air, and drink the water then this is about you.” We are all in this boat together. It’s time we all starting rowing in the same direction.

Crystal Lameman, Beaver Lake Cree Nation

Press Release for the Launch of Sustainable Change Alberta

Sustainable Change Alberta was formed to bring Alberta environmental organizations together to develop an annual list of shared environmental priorities for the province.

The five shared priorities are:

  • Implement and apply UNDRIP to all Government of Alberta law, policy and procedures
  • Implement the Climate Leadership Plan
  • Reach and exceed the 17 per cent milestone for protected areas
  • Improve Tailings Management
  • ​Protect Alberta’s Caribou

The priorities were arrived at through a consensus based process among our network members and do not reflect the total views or positions of individual network members. You can find more detail on these priorities at

Alberta is home to some of the most beautiful and important landscapes and wild places on the planet and Albertans expect strong, smart legislation that protects our environment and our communities while creating jobs and generating prosperity over the long term. The government’s action of climate change and creating new protected spaces are unequivocal good news stories for everyday Albertans as we diversify our economy and protect our environment for future Albertans.

“We have been impressed by what has been accomplished in two short years since the election, but we have the opportunity now to solidify these gains with a few extra steps. By moving forward on these five priorities, the Alberta Government has the potential to create long-term, substantial change to the Alberta landscape and our citizens’ quality of life,” says Joe Vipond with the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment.

“We’re happy to work together with these eight other leading Alberta based organizations, collaborating on shared priorities. This is an important step in Alberta’s transition to a low carbon, resilient province. We look forward to seeing the Climate Leadership Plan in action,” says Shanthu Mano with Alberta Green Economy Network.

Sustainable Change Alberta is a strategic initiative representing tens of thousands of Albertans from nine of Alberta’s leading environmental non-governmental organizations. Those organizations are:

  • Alberta Green Economy Network
  • Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment
  • Canadian Parks and Wilderness Association Northern Alberta Chapter
  • Canadian Parks and Wilderness Association Southern Alberta Chapter
  • Ecojustice
  • Keepers of the Athabasca
  • Pembina Institute
  • Progress Alberta
  • Yukon to Yellowstone Initiative

We have members available for media interviews:

Joe Vipond from Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment at 403-510-9236,

Stephen Legault from the Yukon to Yellowstone Initiative at 403-688-2964,

Simon Dyer from the Pembina Institute at 587-873-3937,

Alberta Green Economy Network Submission to Alberta’s Energy Efficiency Advisory Panel

On September 29, 2016, AGEN submitted a proposal to the Energy Efficiency Advisory Panel. In this proposal, AGEN strongly urges the Alberta government to prioritize solar energy in the form of micro-generation and small-scale community solar energy projects. The proposal outlines how these individually and community-owned renewable energy systems can play an important role in Alberta’s energy future.

Click on the link for the full AGEN Advisory Panel Proposal

100,000+ Jobs: Getting Albertans back to work by building a low-carbon future.

On Earth Day 2016, April 22nd, the Alberta Green Economy Network, in partnership with Greenpeace Canada and GridWorks Renewable Energy Inc. released the report, 100,000+ Jobs: Getting Albertans back to work building a low-carbon economy.

The report outlines how we can created over 100,000 jobs in Alberta’s green economy with the right policies and investments.

Click below to read the full report:

100,000+ Jobs

Poll shows Albertans want carbon price revenue to support green energy, energy efficiency and sustainable transportation.

April 13, 2016
Media Release

Poll shows Albertans want carbon price revenue to support green energy, energy efficiency and sustainable transportation.

12 April 2016 (Edmonton) – A new poll asking Albertans how they would like revenue raised by a proposed carbon tax spent indicates that by more than a two-to-one margin, people favour spending  it on green energy projects, transit and energy efficiency improvements.

Almost six in ten, or 58% of Albertans, want the carbon revenue directed toward green projects, while just 28% want the money returned to fossil fuel companies so that they can research technology that would allow them to reduce the amount that they pollute. Fifteen percent were undecided.

“A majority of residents were in favour of directing the money to energy efficiency improvements or related areas, regardless of which political party they support,” said Paul Seccaspina of Oraclepoll Research.  “Alberta NDP supporters (82%), those likely to vote Liberal (80%) and Alberta Party backers (72%) most want revenues directed toward green projects but even PC (52%) and Wildrose voters (51%) wanted the money spent on energy efficiencies, renewable energy and public transit.”

“The people of Alberta want jobs and they know carbon price investments in low-carbon sectors is one of the best ways to get them,” said Kass Forman of the Alberta Green Economy Network (AGEN). “Reinvesting revenue from the carbon price directly in people and communities can be a tremendous vehicle to diversify our economy, usher in the age of community renewables, and put thousands of Albertans to work to do it.”

Residents over 55 years of age were the most likely to agree to giving the revenue to the oil and gas sector (39%), while Albertans between 18-34 years of age were most inclined to say the funds should be directed to renewable energy or related areas.

With the Alberta budget – and how the carbon tax is to be spent – being announced later this week, the timing of the poll is critical.

“It clearly shows that not only are people in this province willing to invest in green jobs, NDP supporters in particular are overwhelmingly in favour of renewable energy, efficiencies and public transit,” said Mike Hudema, Climate and Energy Campaigner with Greenpeace Canada. “A large majority of young adults also see the need to break free of fossil fuels, and that’s incredibly encouraging.”

The Oraclepoll was conducted between April 1st and April 6th 2016. A total of 750 people were interviewed for the survey, which has a margin of error of 3.1%, 19 times out of 20.


See full poll results here

For more information:

Kass Forman: Alberta Green Economy Network Coordinator: 587-882-7439
Shanthu Mano: Founding Director/CEO, C-Returns: 780-437-0023
Godo Stoyke: President, Carbon Busters: 780-953-5067
Mike Hudema, Climate and Energy campaigner, Greenpeace Canada: 780-504-5601