Transcript: The Agenda at WGSI: Life Off the Power Grid | Apr 25, 2016

Steve stands in a university auditorium, in front of a panel that reads "W.G.S.I., Waterloo Global Science Initiative." He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, white shirt, and striped blue tie.

A caption on screen reads "Indigenous power struggle. Source of the problem."

Steve says I JUST WANT TO DO A QUOTE HERE
FROM DR. BERT LAUWERS
THE FORMER DEPUTY CHIEF CORONER
FOR THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO.
HE IS THE AUTHOR OF THAT 2011
CHIEF CORONER'S REVIEW OF 16
YOUTH SUICIDES THAT OCCURRED
BETWEEN 2006 AND 2008 IN
PIKANGIKUM.
HE TOLD US RECENTLY...

A quote appears on screen, under the title "Electricity and well being." The quote reads "[Pikangikum's] ability to evolve and develop is curtailed by the fact they don't have this necessary resource... Having a good source of electricity is integral to having improved quality in their lives."
Bert Lawers, as quoted on TVO.org, April 2, 2016.

Steve says ACCESS TO RELIABLE
AND ABUNDANT ENERGY.
WHAT WOULD IT MEAN FOR THE
DAY-TO-DAY QUALITY OF LIFE IN
OFF-GRID INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES?
MITCHELL, WHY DON'T YOU START US
OFF ON THAT?

The caption changes to "Mitchell Diabo. Kasabonika Lake Community Development Corporation."

Mitchell is in his late forties, with short gray hair shaven at the temples and a trimmed moustache. He's wearing glasses, a gray suit and a blue shirt.

He says WELL, WE WOULD BE ABLE TO
DEVELOP A LOCAL ECONOMY.
I SEE ELECTRICITY SUPPLY AS AN
ECONOMIC FOUNDATION TO OUR
ECONOMY, AND WITHOUT IT, WE'RE
STAGNANT.
SO WE CREATE INFRASTRUCTURE, WE
CREATE FACILITIES, WE CREATE
HOUSING, BUT IN DOING ALL OF
THAT, WE'RE CREATING JOBS, WE'RE
CREATING OPPORTUNITIES, AND
WE'RE ALSO CREATING LOCAL
CAPACITY WITH THE TECHNOLOGY.
WE'RE NOT LOOKING FOR SOLUTIONS
TO BE FLOWN IN TO US TO BECOME
THE BENEFICIARIES OF A SOLUTION
THAT'S FOREIGN.
WE WANT TO BE PART OF THE
SOLUTION.
WE WANT TO BE ENGAGED IN THE
PROCESS.
AND WE WANT TO BE SEEN AS
PARTNERS IN FINDING SOLUTIONS TO
MEET OUR ISSUES AND OUR
COMMUNITIES.

The caption changes to "Impact of unreliable energy."

Steve says CHRIS, EVEN IN
PLACES AS REMOTE AS PIKANGIKUM,
EVEN IN PLACES THAT ARE SO MUCH
FURTHER NORTH THAN EVEN MOST
PEOPLE DOWN SOUTH EVEN IMAGINE,
YOU THINK THAT ACCESS TO
RELIABLE ENERGY CAN HAVE A
POSITIVE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT EFFECT?

The caption changes to "Christopher Henderson. Lumos Energy."

Christopher is in his late fifties, clean-shaven, with receding gray hair. He's wearing a gray plaid suit, and a white shirt.

He says ABSOLUTELY.
BUT LET ME GIVE YOU AN EXAMPLE.
ATLIN IS A BEAUTIFUL COMMUNITY
IN BRITISH COLUMBIA.
WE NEED POLITICAL KNOW-HOW AND
COMMUNITY LEADERSHIP.
IN THAT COMMUNITY YEARS AGO THEY
SAID CAN WE REPLACE DIESEL POWER
WITH THE SMALL HYDRO RESOURCE WE
HAVE?
THEY'VE BEEN DOING THAT.
IT'S BEEN RUN 3 YEARS.
COMPLETELY OWNED BY THE FIRST
NATION.
THEY BUILT THEIR OWN CAPACITY TO
DO IT.
OVER THAT TIME, THEY'VE ADDED 20
JOBS IN THE COMMUNITY, WHICH IS
HUGE FOR A SMALL COMMUNITY.
THEY ARE STABLE, PROVIDING THEIR
OWN POWER THAT IS REDUCED
ELECTRICITY COSTS FOR THE
COMMUNITY, AND THEY'VE SEEN THE
MOST IMPORTANT INGREDIENT BEEN
ADDED WHICH IS CONFIDENCE IN THE
FUTURE, HOPE IN THE FUTURE.
SO THE RESULTS SPEAK FOR
THEMSELVES.
WHEN YOU HAVE A COMMUNITY
CONVERT FROM DIESEL TO RENEWABLE
ENERGY, THINGS GET A LOT BETTER
FAST.
I THINK WE NEED TO DO MORE OF
THAT.

Steve says CYNTHIA, I'M GOING
TO PUSH BACK ON THIS BECAUSE WE
EVEN SAW OVER THE PAST COUPLE OF
WEEKS JEAN Chrétien, A FORMER
PRIME MINISTER, FORMER INDIAN
AFFAIRS MINISTER, A MAN WHO HAS
ADOPTED AN INDIGENOUS CHILD TO
BE PART OF HIS FAMILY, HE SAYS
SOMETIMES THESE COMMUNITIES ARE
NOT SUSTAINABLE AND YOU'VE GOT
TO MOVE.
ARE YOU SAYING THAT ACCESS TO
RELIABLE SOURCES OF ENERGY COULD
ACTUALLY BE THE SECRET TO
KEEPING PLACES LIKE PIKANGIKUM
AND ATTAWAPISKAT ALIVE AND WHERE
THEY ARE?

The caption changes to "Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux. Lakehead University."

Cynthia is in her fifties, with wavy gray hair. She's wearing a black blazer and pearl earrings.

She says IT'S ONE PIECE OF THE PUZZLE.
IT'S NOT EVERYTHING.
I MEAN, THERE'S A LOT OF
INSECURITY UP THERE, WHETHER
IT'S ABOUT FOOD INSECURITY,
HEALTH INSECURITY, ENERGY
INSECURITY -- THERE ARE A LOT OF
THINGS THAT NEED TO BE ADDRESSED
UP THERE.
Chrétien NEVER LIVED IN THOSE
COMMUNITIES SO HE DOESN'T
UNDERSTAND WHAT THE COMMUNITY IS
ALL ABOUT AND WHY PEOPLE WANT TO
STAY.
THOSE ARE TRADITIONAL
TERRITORIES, ANCESTRAL
LANDS.
THEY SHOULDN'T BE REQUIRED TO
LEAVE.
WE ALSO KNOW ABOUT THE
DEVELOPMENT THAT HAS TO HAPPEN
IN THE NORTH, THAT'S KIND OF THE
FINAL FRONTIER OF CANADA'S
RESOURCE EXTRACTION AND WEALTH
AND THERE'S A LOT OF PEOPLE
LIVING UP THERE WHO MAY BE
PERCEIVED TO BE SOMEWHAT IN THE
WAY OF THAT DEVELOPMENT
HAPPENING.
WE'RE NOT SO NAIVE AS TO THINK
THAT WE JUST FORGOT TO GIVE YOU
SOME POWER AND WE FORGOT TO GIVE
YOU ADDITIONAL JURISDICTION, WE
GET THERE'S AN ARGUMENT HERE
THAT HAS TO BE ADDRESSED BY ALL
OF CANADIANS.
WE ALL HAVE TO AGREE THAT IT'S
IMPORTANT FOR THE INDIGENOUS
PEOPLES OF THIS LAND TO LIVE IN
THE TERRITORIES WHERE THEY'VE
LIVED FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS AND
THEY NEED THE KIND OF ASSISTANCE
NECESSARY TO MAKE IT POSSIBLE.
THANKFULLY RIGHT NOW WE HAVE A
GOVERNMENT THAT HAS SAID YES.
WE UNDERSTAND AND WE HEAR YOU
AND WE'RE GOING TO WORK WITH
YOU, NOT AGAINST YOU, TO MAKE IT
HAPPEN.

Steve says MITCHELL?

Mitchell says I HAVE A LOT OF RESPECT FOR
JEAN Chrétien.
HE'S AN ELDER STATESMAN IN THIS
COUNTRY.
BUT TO COME UP WITH SOMETHING
LIKE THAT IS LUDICROUS.
IT'S A NON-STARTER.
IT'S NOT A DISCUSSION WE'RE
GOING TO HAVE IN OUR COMMUNITIES
TO ASK US TO CUT OUR SPIRITUAL,
OUR CULTURAL UMBILICAL CORD TO
OUR OWN LAND AND BECOME EXILES
IN THIS COUNTRY.
THAT'S RIDICULOUS.

Steve says I DON'T KNOW IF I'M
READING BETWEEN THE LINES BUT IT
SOUNDS LIKE YOU'RE SAYING THE
WHITE MAN IS CONSPIRING TO GIVE
US A DESIRABLE ENERGY SO THEY
CAN HAVE ACCESS TO OUR RESOURCES
IN OUR TRADITIONAL TERRITORIES.

Cynthia says IT'S A THOUGHT.

She laughs and then adds
IT'S BEEN THERE FOR A WHILE.

Steve says I'M NOT READING TOO
MUCH BETWEEN THE LINES THERE.
THAT'S WHAT YOU'RE SAYING?

Cynthia says THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THOSE
COMMUNITIES HAVE CREATED A HUGE
AMOUNT OF DAMAGE.
THOSE COMMUNITIES WHERE THEY'RE
ACTUALLY SITTING ARE ARTIFICIAL
COMMUNITIES.
THOSE ARE NOT THE HOMELANDS THEY
WOULD HAVE LIVED IF IT THEY HAD
THE CHOICE.
THEY WERE MOVED THERE IN THE
'50s, THEY WERE DISPLACED FROM
THEIR LOCATIONS FOR THE BENEFIT
AND THE CONVENIENCE OF THE
GOVERNMENT.
SO WE NEED TO DO IT DIFFERENTLY
NOW.
WE NEED TO RECOGNIZE THAT.

Steve says JUDITH?

The caption changes to "Judith Sayers. University of Victoria."

Judith is in her fifties, with short brown hair. She's wearing glasses, a printed red and black shirt, and a silver necklace.

She says WELL, IN 1969, JEAN Chrétien
AND PIERRE ELLIOTT TRUDEAU WROTE
THE WHITE PAPER AND IT WAS WITH
AN ASSIMILATION AGENDA THAT
TAKES THE INDIANS AND TAKES THEM
OUT OF THE RESERVE AND PUTS THEM
INTO SOCIETY.
THAT'S THE SAME THOUGHT THAT
STILL IS PREVALENT IN THE
GOVERNMENT, AND WE CANNOT BE
REMOVED OFF OUR LANDS AND WE
HAVE TO WORK WITH FIRST NATIONS
TO FIND ACCESS TO THE GRID,
SOMETHING AS SIMPLE AS EDUCATION
AND HAVING ENOUGH POWER TO BE
ABLE TO EDUCATE OUR CHILDREN IS
REALLY CRITICAL TO SOME OF THAT
BASIC FOUNDATION.

Steve says LET ME PICK UP ON
THE HEALTH CARE ANGLE THAT WE
SORT OF TOUCHED ON TANGENTIALLY
A MOMENT AGO.
LET'S HIT IT ON THE HEAD NOW.
CHRIS, GETTING THESE RESERVES,
WHICH ARE OFF THE GRID, WHICH
ARE DEPENDING ON DIESEL RIGHT
NOW IN ORDER TO FUEL THEIR POWER
NEEDS, IF YOU COULD SOMEHOW TURN
THAT AROUND AND HAVE A MUCH MORE
SUSTAINABLE FORM OF RELIABLE
ACCESS TO ENERGY, WHAT WOULD
THAT MEAN FOR THE HEALTH CARE
CONCERNS OF THE PEOPLE LIVING IN
THESE PLACES?

Christopher says MOST OF THESE COMMUNITIES ARE
IN THE FAR NORTH OF CANADA,
INCLUDING ONTARIO.
IT'S COLD FOR A LARGE PART OF
THE YEAR.
WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT ENERGY YOU
ALSO HAVE TO TALK ABOUT HEAT.
THEY USE DIESEL FUEL TO HEAT
THEIR HOMES OR WOOD IF IT'S
AVAILABLE.
OFTEN IT'S NOT.
IF YOU HAD SUSTAINABLE SOURCES
OF POWER THAT COULD PROVIDE
ELECTRICITY AND HEAT, HAVING A
STABLE HEAT ENVIRONMENT IN A
COLD CLIMATE, YOU CAN UNDERSTAND
WHAT IT MEANS FOR YOUR HEALTH.
WHEN YOU DON'T HAVE IT, YOU KNOW
HOW DANGEROUS IT IS.
IF YOU'RE RELYING ON DIESEL FOR
HEAT AND POWER, YOU HAVE HEAVY
EMISSIONS THAT AFFECT
RESPIRATORY HEALTH.
IF A CHILD GETS RESPIRATORY
ILLNESS, THE COST IS 50,000 dollars.
APART FROM THE HUMAN COST TO
THAT CHILD AND THEIR FAMILY.
IF YOU'RE MOVING TO A MORE
RELIABLE SOURCE OF RENEWABLE
ENERGY AWAY FROM DIESEL, YOU
HAVE STABLE HEAT ENVIRONMENT,
STABLE POWER ENVIRONMENTS THAT
ALSO REMOVE SOME OF THE
EMISSIONS IN THE SYSTEM, LET
ALONE THE SPILLS THAT OCCUR FROM
TIME TO TIME IN COMMUNITIES.
YOU WOULDN'T TOLERATE THIS IN A
TOWN LIKE TORONTO OR OTTAWA.
WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT FOR
KASABONIKA OR PIKANGIKUM?

Steve says CHIEF DAY, A LOT OF COMMUNITIES
USE WOOD STOVES TO GET BY.
WHAT ARE THE HEALTH IMPLICATIONS
OF THAT?

The caption changes to "Isadore Day. Chiefs of Ontario."

Isadore is in his late forties, with short gray hair and a soul patch. He's wearing a gray suit and blue shirt.

He says OBVIOUSLY IT'S, FIRST OF ALL,
AN AIR QUALITY ISSUE, AND SECOND
OF ALL, IT'S A SAFETY ISSUE.
AGAIN, PIKANGIKUM, THIS WAS A
WOOD-BURNING FIRE SYSTEM IN THE
HOME THAT JUST KILLED -- THE
FIRE THAT JUST KILLED 9 PEOPLE.
SO OBVIOUSLY IT'S A SAFETY ISSUE
AND IT'S ONE WHERE, YOU KNOW,
THE MEANS TO ACTUALLY GO OUT AND
GET FIREWOOD IS STILL A
PRIMITIVE SITUATION IN THE NORTH
AND IT SHOULDN'T BE.
YOU KNOW, THIS IS THE 21ST
CENTURY.
OUR COMMUNITIES THAT ARE IN THE
NORTH ARE STRUGGLING BETWEEN TWO
WORLDS RIGHT NOW, YOU KNOW, THE
TRADITIONAL WORLD AND THE MODERN
WORLD WHERE THERE'S SO MUCH
AMBIGUITY THERE, WHICH WAY DO WE
GO?
WE HAVE ACCESS TO THIS AND WE
NEED EDUCATION, WE NEED
EMPLOYMENT, WE NEED AN ECONOMY,
YET THE ENERGY IS NOT THERE.
AND THE WOOD FIRE SITUATION, I
THINK PEOPLE WOULD BE QUITE
SURPRISED THAT THERE ARE MORE
FIRES THAT KILL FIRST NATIONS
PEOPLE IN THE NORTH THAN THE
NATIONAL AVERAGE.

Steve says LET ME DO A
FOLLOW-UP WITH YOU ON THIS.
WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT THE BASICS,
THAT EVERYBODY NEEDS TO SURVIVE:
HOUSING, CLEAN DRINKING WATER,
ACCESS TO PLUMBING, REGULAR
PLUMBING INFRASTRUCTURE.
RELIABLE ENERGY CAN DO WHAT TO
ADDRESS THOSE THREE BASIC NEEDS,
IN YOUR VIEW?

Isadore says OBVIOUSLY, AGAIN, THE
SITUATION IN PIKANGIKUM, THERE
IS NO RUNNING WATER.
95 PERCENT OF THE HOMES AT
PIKANGIKUM DON'T HAVE RUNNING
WATER, SO THEREFORE, YOU'RE NOT
GOING TO SEE A FIRE HYDRANT
OUTSIDE.
YOU KNOW, THE ISSUE OF
EDUCATION.
ONE OF THE SITUATIONS WE'RE
SEEING SOME PROGRESS IN
PIKANGIKUM WHERE THEY'VE GOT A
SCHOOL THAT HAS THE CAPACITY
TO -- IT'S GOING TO BE COMING
ONLINE IN SEPTEMBER.
THEY CAN HOLD 800 STUDENTS.
THEY HAVE 3 PRINCIPALS.
AND IT HAS ITS OWN ENERGY
SOURCE.
SO THEY ARE MOVING AHEAD.
THERE ARE POSITIVE THINGS
HAPPENING AT PIKANGIKUM.
BUT AGAIN, THE CENTRAL PIECE
AGAIN IS JUST, LIKE THE HUMAN
BODY HAS ELECTRICITY IN IT, AND
IF ONE PART OF THE BODY DOESN'T
HAVE ELECTRICITY, IT'S GOING TO
FALTER AND IT'S GOING TO DIE.
IT'S THE SAME THING AS A
COMMUNITY.

Steve says MITCHELL, COULD WE
LEARN A LITTLE BIT MORE ABOUT
YOUR COMMUNITY?
YOU'RE 500 MILES NORTH OF
THUNDER BAY IN NORTHWESTERN
ONTARIO.
HOW MANY PEOPLE LIVE THERE?

Mitchell says THERE'S APPROXIMATELY 1100
PEOPLE THERE ON RESERVE.
WE'RE SITUATED ON A LITTLE
ISLAND, WHICH THE COMMUNITY WAS
FORCED TO RELOCATE TO IN THE
'60s FROM ITS TRADITIONAL
AREAS WHERE WE HAD A COMMUNITY
SETTING AND WE STILL MAINTAIN IT.
WE'RE A CREE COMMUNITY AND VERY
PROGRESSIVE IN TERMS OF
ADDRESSING OUR ISSUES DIRECTLY
AND LOOKING FOR SOLUTIONS,
LOOKING FOR PARTNERS, LOOKING
FOR THE RESOURCES WE REQUIRE TO
SOLVE OUR OWN ISSUES.
KASABONIKA DOESN'T SIT BACK AND
WAIT, THAT'S FOR SURE.

Steve says IS THERE ANYTHING
UNDER THE GROUND WHERE YOU ARE
THAT COULD HELP ECONOMIC
DEVELOPMENT IN YOUR AREA?

Mitchell says WELL, FOR SURE.
GEOLOGICALLY SPEAKING, WE SIT IN
THE RING OF FIRE GEOLOGICAL AREA
THAT'S BEEN IN THE MEDIA A FAIR
BIT AND ON EVERYONE'S TONGUES
PRETTY MUCH.

Steve says CHROMITE?

Mitchell says BASE METALS, DIAMONDS, YOU NAME IT.
AS FAR AS WE'RE CONCERNED, WE
WANT TO BE THE LEAD IN LOOKING
AT MINERAL EXPLORATION OR MINE
DEVELOPMENT.
WHEN I TALK ABOUT BEING
PROGRESSIVE, WE LOOK AT TURNING
OVER A LOT OF STONES IN TERMS OF
POWER, WE'VE DONE A LOT OF
INVESTIGATIONS IN RENEWABLES:
WATER POWER SITE INVESTIGATIONS,
ROOFTOP SOLAR INSTALLATIONS ON
OUR WATER TREATMENT PLANT WHERE
WE HAVE OUR HIGHEST LOADS,
LOOKING AT THE SCHOOL NEXT,
SOLAR FARM WHERE WE WOULD SELL
POWER BACK TO THE MICROGRID WITH
OUR REGULATOR OR DISTRIBUTOR.
SO BASICALLY WE'RE TRYING TO
TAKE CHARGE OF LOOKING AFTER THE
CHALLENGES WE HAVE IN OUR
COMMUNITY.

Steve says CHRIS?

Christopher says STEVE, WHAT MITCH UNDERLINES
IS THE POWER OF PEOPLE IN THE
NORTH AND ALL ABORIGINAL
COMMUNITIES.
HE HASN'T TALKED ABOUT IN
KASABONIKA WHERE THEY TRIED A
FEW YEARS AGO WITH THE
UNIVERSITY OF WATERLOO LOOKING
AT RENEWABLE ENERGY TO CREATE
HYDROGEN FOR THE COMMUNITY.
THERE IS A HUGE INTEREST IN
INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES TO NOT
ONLY SOLVE SOME OF THEIR
CHALLENGES BUT BE ACTIVE PLAYERS
IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF A CLEAN
ENERGY ECONOMY, WHICH IS NOT
ONLY RELEVANT FOR THEIR LOCAL
ECONOMIES BUT ECONOMIES IN THE
WORLD.
NO BETTER ACTION WE COULD TAKE
IS TAKE THAT ENERGY AND GO
FORWARD WITH THE PEOPLE WHO WANT
TO CHANGE THEIR FUTURES.
EVERY TIME I WORK WITH
INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES, I SEE IT
TIME AND TIME AGAIN.

Steve says I THOUGHT I HEARD
SOMETHING ONCE UPON A TIME,
MITCHELL, ABOUT YOUR COMMUNITY,
WHERE YOU HAD SOME ECONOMIC
DEVELOPMENT PLAN THAT YOU HAD TO
SCUPPER BECAUSE YOU DIDN'T HAVE
ACCESS TO RELIABLE POWER TO MAKE
THAT HAPPEN?
DO I HAVE THAT RIGHT?

Mitchell says THERE WERE A NUMBER OF ISSUES
WE LOOKED AT WHERE WE DIDN'T
HAVE THE POWER.
WE HAD SMALL BUSINESS CENTRES
PLANNED FOR HOUSING SMALL
BUSINESS, ENTREPRENEURS,
INCUBATORS, AND HYDRO REFUSED TO
HOOK UP ANYTHING OR EVEN
ENTERTAIN A DISCUSSION OF
HOOKING UP ANYTHING.
SO A LOT OF OUR PROJECTS ARE ON
THE DRAWING BOARD.
NOW, WE FINALLY COMMISSIONED AN
UPGRADE TO THE DIESEL PLANT IN
DECEMBER 2015, SO NOW WE'VE GOT
ANOTHER WINDOW OF POWER AND I
WOULD SAY 5 TO 7 YEARS WE'LL BE
BACK IN LOAD RESTRICTIONS
DEPENDING ON HOW AGGRESSIVE WE ARE.
WE CAN NOW UNLOCK SOME OF THOSE
OPPORTUNITIES IN OUR COMMUNITY.

Steve says CHIEF DAY?

Isadore says I THINK WHAT MITCH
UNDERSCORES AS WELL IS THE NEED
TO LOOK AT THE PARTICULAR REGION
THAT IS SUFFERING WITHOUT ENERGY
RIGHT NOW.
YOU KNOW, THE BIGGEST THING HERE
IS GOING TO BE, WHAT IS THE
PLANNING CONFIGURATION LOOK LIKE
FOR THE FUTURE?
LISTEN, IT'S NOT GOING TO BE, AS
IT IS IN THE MAINSTREAM IN
CANADA TODAY, THE NORTH IS IN A
VERY DIFFERENT SITUATION RIGHT NOW.
WE'VE GOT CLIMATE CHANGE.
THE NORTH, IN WHICH MITCH IS
SPEAKING ABOUT, HAS GOT THE
SECOND LARGEST CARBON SINK IN
THE WORLD.
THERE'S THE CLIMATE CHANGE,
THERE'S THE CLEAN ECONOMY, AND
THERE'S RESOURCE EXTRACTION AND
DEVELOPMENT BUT YOU ALSO HAVE
UNDERDEVELOPED COMMUNITIES.
THIS IS REALLY GOING TO TAKE A
FOCUS IN TERMS OF WHAT THAT
POLITICAL WILL IS AND WHAT IS
THE SEQUENTIAL INVESTMENT THAT'S
GOING TO BE NEEDED OVER THIS
POLITICAL TERM, WHETHER IT BE
THE FEDERAL OR PROVINCIAL, BUT
WE REALLY NEED TO LOOK AT
PLANNING VERY CAREFULLY.

Steve says JUDITH, IF YOU COULD
GET EVERYBODY OFF DIESEL AND
ONTO SOMETHING GREENER, NEVER
MIND THE HEALTH EFFECTS THAT
WE'VE TALKED ABOUT, TALK ABOUT
THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPLICATIONS
OF BEING ABLE TO DO THAT.
WHAT WOULD THEY BE?

Judith says THE THINK THE ENVIRONMENTAL
IMPLICATIONS OF COURSE WILL BE
THE IMMEDIATE REDUCTION OF
GREENHOUSE GASES, THE NOISE
POLLUTION, ANY OF THE THREATS
WITH TRANSPORTING DIESEL,
WHETHER IT'S BY WATER, BY ROAD,
OR BY AIR.
I THINK THERE'S A LOT OF THOSE
ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS.

Steve says HOW FREQUENTLY DO WE
SEE SPILLS OF DIESEL OIL?

Judith says WE DON'T HEAR TOO MANY.
BUT THE THREAT IS ALWAYS THERE,
ESPECIALLY THOSE BARGING THROUGH
THE OCEAN.
AND, YOU KNOW, IT'S SOMETHING
YOU THINK ABOUT ALL THE TIME.
BUT I'D LIKE TO ADD ONE MORE
WORD TO YOUR CLEAN RELIABLE, AND
I THINK THAT'S AFFORDABLE
ELECTRICITY.
WE HAVE A LOT OF HOMES IN THE
NORTH THAT ARE HEATED BY
ELECTRICITY AND THEIR BILLS ARE
SO HIGH THAT THEY CAN'T AFFORD
TO PAY THEM AND THEY END UP
GETTING POWER CUT OFF.
WHATEVER SOLUTIONS WE COME UP
WITH, WE HAVE TO HAVE THEM, THAT
FIRST NATIONS CAN AFFORD AND
WITH THE LARGE AMOUNT OF
UNEMPLOYMENT IN OUR COMMUNITIES,
IT'S A REAL PROBLEM.

Steve says OKAY.
CYNTHIA, YOU WANTED TO ADD?

Cynthia says I ALSO WANT TO COME BACK TO
THE SOCIAL.
THESE ARE COMMUNITIES, AND I
KNOW THAT A LOT OF
REPRESENTATION THESE COMMUNITIES
GET IN THE MEDIA IS THAT THESE
PEOPLE ARE ALL SORT OF IN A BAD
WAY AND THEY'RE SUFFERING AND
ALL THESE PROBLEMS ARE
HAPPENING, AND IT'S TRUE.
BUT THERE'S ALSO AN INCREDIBLE
NUMBER OF PEOPLE LIVING IN THESE
COMMUNITIES THAT ARE DOING
REALLY GREAT STUFF, AND I THINK
THAT WE REALLY HAVE TO TRY TO
BALANCE THIS CONVERSATION.
IT'S NOT THAT WE WANT CANADA TO
FEEL SORRY FOR THE PEOPLE UP
THERE.
WE'RE JUST SAYING, LOOK, THERE'S
RESOURCE REVENUE-SHARING
OPPORTUNITIES HERE, THERE ARE
PEOPLE LIVING IN THESE
COMMUNITIES THAT ARE
WELL-EDUCATED AND ARE GOING BACK
AND FORTH BETWEEN TWO WORLDS ON
A REGULAR BASIS.
EXCEPT THEY DON'T HAVE WHAT WE
HAVE IN THE SOUTH.
I LIVE IN THUNDER BAY MYSELF.
BUT WE DON'T HAVE -- THEY DON'T
HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO JUMP IN
THE SHOWER EVERY MORNING AND TO
GIVE THEIR KIDS A BATH EVERY
NIGHT AND THE WATER SOMETIMES IS
OVERLOADED WITH BLEACH AND SO
THE KIDS GET SORES.
THEY DON'T HAVE THE THINGS THAT
WE TAKE FOR GRANTED, AND THEY
LIVE IN CANADA TOO.
BUT THERE'S A LOT OF PEOPLE
WORKING ON THEIR BEHALF, AND I
REALLY WANT TO MAKE THAT PLAIN,
THAT THERE'S 1500 PHDS OUT THERE
THAT ARE INDIGENOUS AND 8,000
MASTERS DEGREES, ALL TRYING TO
PUT THEIR ENERGIES TO BEAR ON
SOLVING THIS WITH THEIR OWN
COMMUNITIES.
IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE ASKING YOU
TO DO THIS FOR US.
I WANT TO BE VERY CLEAR ABOUT
THAT.
I THINK WE HAVE TO BE
UNDERSTANDING AND ACKNOWLEDGE
THAT THERE'S A HUGE HISTORY IN
THIS COUNTRY THAT HAS HAD THESE
EFFECTS, WHETHER WE GO ALL THE
WAY BACK TO CONTACT OR WE'RE
LOOKING AT THE RESIDENTIAL
SCHOOLS OR AT THE '60s SCOOP
AND FOSTER CARE AND
OVERINCARCERATION.
THERE ARE A LOT OF THINGS GOING
ON THAT ARE ACTUALLY ASSOCIATED
TO THE SOCIAL, TO THE JUSTICE
AREAS, AND TO THINGS THAT WE ARE
ALSO AT THE SAME TIME EMBATTLED
BY.
SO ENERGY IS ONE THING.
BUT, BOY, WE HAVE A LOT OF WORK
TO DO AS A COUNTRY TO MAKE THIS
RIGHT.
I THINK WE NEED TO UNDERSTAND
THAT WE'RE ALSO WORKING VERY
HARD TO MAKE THAT HAPPEN.

Steve says WELL SAID.
I WANT TO GO INTO THIS AUDIENCE.
THEO, ARE YOU READY FOR ME NOW?
WHERE ARE YOU?
HERE WE GO.
THEO BLACKBIRD-JOHN JOINS US
HERE TODAY AS WELL.

He walks across the stage and up along the seats in the auditorium to a man in his twenties. Theo is clean-shaven, with short black hair shaven at the temples. He's wearing a flowery blue shirt and a khaki jacket.

Steve continues WE'RE GOING TO GET A CAMERA TO
COME UP HERE.
COME A LITTLE CLOSER TO ME, IF
YOU WOULD?
CAN YOU GIVE US AN EXPLANATION
OF YOUR NAME?

Theo says WELL, ACTUALLY, I'M FROM BOTH
SIDES OF THE CREEK.
MY FATHER IS GERMAN, MY MOTHER
IS NATIVE.
SO BLACKBIRD COMES FROM MY
ANCESTRAL HOMELAND IN NORTH
AMERICA, AND JOHN COMES FROM MY
ANCESTRAL HOMELAND IN GERMANY
AND SWITZERLAND.

The caption changes to "On-grid energy problems."

Steve says INTERESTING.
OKAY.
YOU'RE FROM WHERE?

Theo says WALPOLE ISLAND FIRST NATION
WHICH IS AT THE HEART OF THE
GREAT LAKES, ACTUALLY, ON THE
ST. CLAIR RIVER.

Steve says IF YOU ASKED
SOMEBODY FROM SAULT STE. MARIE
WHERE THE HEART OF THE GREAT
LAKES IS, THEY'LL TELL YOU
THEY'RE ON IT TOO.

[Laughter]

Theo says TRUE THAT.

Steve says SO THE HEART OF YOUR
GREAT LAKE IS WHERE?

Theo says IN BETWEEN LAKE HURON AND
LAKE SINCLAIR.

Steve says ALL OF WHAT YOU'RE
HEARING TODAY, ANY OF THIS RING
TRUE FOR YOU?

Theo says VERY MUCH SO.

Steve says HOW SO?

Theo says A LOT OF THE ISSUES WE FACE
REGARDING ACCESS TO ENERGY IN
NORTHERN COMMUNITIES, WE FACED
THE SAME ISSUES EVEN WHEN WE
HAVE ACCESS TO ENERGY.

Steve says YOU'RE ONE OF THE
SOUTHERN-MOST POINTS OF CANADA?

Theo says YES.
AND WE HAVE ACCESS TO ALMOST ALL
TYPES OF ENERGY AND CURRENTLY
RIGHT NOW WE HAVE A NATURAL GAS
PIPELINE COMING INTO OUR
COMMUNITY WHICH IS GOING TO
OFFSET THE COST OF PROPANE.
WE'LL BE SAVING APPROXIMATELY
200,000 dollars A YEAR ON PROPANE FOR
OUR WATER TREATMENT PLANT ALONE.
SO RENEWABLE ENERGY HAS A REALLY
IMPORTANT ASPECT TO ALL OF OUR
FUTURES.
NOT ONLY DOES IT ALIGN WITH OUR
TRADITIONAL VALUES AND BELIEFS,
BUT IT ALIGNS WITH, YOU KNOW,
ENSURING THE NEXT 7 GENERATIONS
HAVE A FUTURE, HAVE A PLACE TO
CALL HOME, SOMEWHERE TO LIVE
WHERE THEY WON'T GET SICK FROM
THE OUTPUTS OF DIFFERENT
INDUSTRY AND THINGS WE'RE
INTERESTED IN IN THIS DAY AND
AGE.

Steve says YOU'RE ON THE GRID,
YES, YOUR COMMUNITY?

Theo says YES, SIR.

Steve says WHAT'S THE COST OF
ELECTRICITY?

Theo says UNFORTUNATELY, WE ARE ON AN
ISLAND SO THERE IS A DELIVERY CHARGE.
IT'S ABOUT THREE TIMES HIGHER
DUE TO THE DELIVERY CHARGE
ALONE.

Steve says THREE TIMES HIGHER
THAN WHAT?

Theo says THAN THE TOWN 10 KILOMETRES
AWAY FROM US.

Steve says HOW DO YOU GUYS DEAL
WITH THAT?

Theo says WELL, WE HAVE TO MAKE A
CHOICE WHETHER WE'RE GOING TO
PAY OUR HYDRO BILL OR PAY FOR
FOOD, AND MORE OFTEN THAN NOT,
WE'RE CHOOSING TO FEED OUR
CHILDREN.

Steve says THAT'S PRETTY STARK,
THEO.

Theo says YES, IT IS.

Steve says WHAT DO YOU SEE THE
OPTIONS GOING FORWARD?

Theo says WELL, I SEE OPTIONS GOING
FORWARD IS HOPEFULLY WE CONTINUE
WITH THE MOMENTUM WE CURRENTLY
HAVE.
RIGHT NOW, THERE WAS 16 PROJECTS
IN ONTARIO LAST YEAR UNDER FIT
AND LRP PROGRAMS, AND 13 OF
WHICH HAD FIRST NATIONS
CONTRIBUTIONS ON SOME LEVEL, IN
PARTNERSHIPS.
SO MOVING INTO THE FUTURE, ABOUT
2 WEEKS AGO, THE PROGRAMS WERE
RELEASED TO THE PUBLIC.
LAST YEAR IT WAS 500 MEGAWATTS,
THIS YEAR IT'S 900, SO THE
OPPORTUNITY FOR PARTNERSHIPS IS
THERE AGAIN.
HOPEFULLY WE BECOME LEADERS AND
NOT JUST PARTNERS LIKE WORKING
AND BUILDING ON A LABOUR LEVEL
BUT ALSO LEADING THE WAVE.
NOW, WHEN TALKING ABOUT
LEADERSHIP, WE HAVE PEOPLE THAT
ARE BEING EDUCATED, THEY'RE
GOING TO SCHOOL, AND THEY'RE
GOING TO COME OUT AND THEY'RE
GOING TO BE A FORCE TO BE
RECKONED WITH.
ALSO, WE NEED TO ACKNOWLEDGE OUR
LEADERS THAT HAVE GROWN ON THE
LAND AND HAVE THOSE TRADITIONAL
VALUES AND BELIEFS INSTILLED
WITHIN THEM, BECAUSE RIGHT NOW
IN THIS DAY AND AGE IN THE WORLD
AND THE DIRECTION WE'RE HEADING
AS A SPECIES AND THE DIRECTION
WE'RE TAKING ALL SPECIES WITH
US, IT'S CRITICAL RIGHT NOW THAT
WE REALIZE AND WE SEE AND WE
UNDERSTAND AND WE MOVE TOWARDS
INDIGENOUS BELIEFS AND VALUES
FROM AROUND THE WORLD, WE
INCORPORATE INTO OUR ECONOMIC
MODELS, WE INCORPORATE IT INTO
OUR SOCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE.
IT'S MANDATORY THAT GOVERNMENTS
AROUND THE WORLD SEEK OUR
UNDERSTANDING AND WE CREATE THE
ENVIRONMENT WHERE WE CAN SHARE
THESE THINGS WITH EACH OTHER.

Steve says THEO, WE THANK YOU
FOR SHARING YOUR VIEWS WITH US
HERE TODAY IN WATERLOO, ONTARIO.
THANK YOU SO MUCH.
THEO BLACKBIRD-JOHN.

[APPLAUSE]

The caption changes to "TVO.org/current-affairs"

Watch: The Agenda at WGSI: Life Off the Power Grid