Indigenous youth from across Canada attend clean energy conference in Whitehorse

Youth participants at this week’s Indigenous Clean Energy conference at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre in Whitehorse. Young people have travelled from all over the country to participate in workshops. (Leslie Amminson/CBC)

Participants getting close look at Indigenous-led projects

Young people from all over the country are in Whitehorse this week to take part in an Indigenous clean energy conference.

The youth participants, aged 18 to 30, are visiting the Yukon through a program called Generation Power, which offers career training for young people wanting to get involved in the clean energy field.

This year’s participants have been taking part in online training courses that started in the fall. This is the first time the cohort has had the chance to meet in person.

“It all kind of comes together in one week of learning, as well as experiences on the land and experiences seeing some clean energy projects in the area,” said Kayla Nolan, one of the program’s co-managers.

The young people, some of whom have no background in energy, are also in the middle of internships across the sector. Those placements have a broad range, Nolan explained.

“There’s people within the government and people doing policy, there’s people that are working on the lines that are doing hands-on trades work,” she said.

“It really is employability for lots of people with all kinds of experience.”

Touring projects in the Yukon

Workshops throughout the week have taken the participants to see energy-saving home renovations and the biomass project in Teslin, Yukon.

Program co-manager Emily Kow said opportunities like these made the Yukon a great place for participants to come together.

“There’s a lot of Indigenous-led clean energy projects going on in the Yukon right now,” she said.

Wood chips from the Teslin sawmill power biomass boilers that provide heat to ten of the community’s largest buildings. (Nelly Albérola/Radio-Canada)

Dionovan Grosbeck, a participant from Chippewas of the Thames First Nation in Ontario, said it’s been great to connect with other young people through the week to learn from each other.

“I think in clean energy, we’ve seen there’s not as much Indigenous representation,” Grosbeck said. “And as a kid I’ve seen that it means a lot when you see people that look like you and people from your community doing and making the changes.”

Grosbeck, who’s pursuing a career in education, said it was an appetite for knowledge that made him interested to learn more about clean energy projects.

“For me personally, clean energy was way outside of my realm, I didn’t have a lot of information coming into this project at all,” he said. “But it’s been awesome to be building up right from the foundation.” 

Workshop participants at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre in Whitehorse. Participants say it’s been great to connect with each other through the week. (Leslie Amminson/CBC)

Brendan Struthers, a former program participant and a mentor for this year’s cohort, said he hopes the young people leave this week with connections in the field.

“Knowing that there are other people pursuing careers in the clean energy field or just have interest in them, and they have built these networks of people that they can reach out to and they feel supported,” he said.

The conference wraps up Friday at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre.

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: Nihtat Energy Ltd. is installing 3,456 solar panels in Inuvik, N.W.T., CBC News

Finland: The world could transition entirely to cheap, safe renewable energy before 2050: Finnish study, Yle News

Greenland: Melting of Greenland glacier generating its own heat and accelerating thaw from base, says study, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: The black, the Blue and the Green— Norway’s energy dilemmas, Blog by Marc Lanteigne

Russia: Russian renewable energy soon without foreign partners, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Decision-makers must close 50-year ‘action gap’ on climate, says report, Eye on the Arctic

United StatesBiden closes half of NPR-A acreage in Arctic Alaska to oil drilling, Alaska Public Media

Leslie Amminson, CBC News

Leslie Amminson is a journalist working with CBC's bureau in Whitehorse. You can reach Leslie with story tips and ideas at

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