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First Nations gather for renewable energy strategy workshop

29 May 2023

Last week, our renewable energy strategy workshop was held in Brossard. More than 60 people from 20 First Nations communities and organizations, including Chiefs, elected officials and other First Nations representatives, met in person and online.

The purpose of the event was to educate participants on energy issues, share ideas and prepare for the potential development of renewable energy projects on First Nations lands.

During the three-day workshop, held from May 24 to 26, 2023, participants heard presentations on energy issues and financing for renewable energy projects. Many also had the opportunity to discuss their needs and concerns directly with government and Hydro-Québec representatives.

Pierre-Olivier Pineau, Professor at HEC Montréal and holder of the Chair in Energy Sector Management, presents on the state of energy in 2023.

All wind, hydro and biomass projects will have an impact on nature. We need to find the right balance, and we haven't done that yet.

Pierre-Olivier PineauProfesseur titulaire à HEC Montréal et titulaire de la Chaire de gestion du secteur de l'énergie

The panel on First Nations leadership in renewable energy projects, which opened the second day, sparked a lively discussion and enabled First Nations to build relationships for future collaboration. Six First Nations representatives presented their respective projects: the Kahnawà:ke Des Cultures wind farm, the Mesgi’g Ugju’s’n wind farm, the Mashteuiatsh energy chain, the Onimiki mini-hydroplant project, and the Opitciwan forest biomass cogeneration plant. Participants appreciated the wealth of information shared by the panelists.

Participants then had the opportunity to take part in a discussion workshop on the future of energy, which generated some interesting ideas.

I dream of the day when our First Nations governments will be partners in Hydro-Québec 2.0, and that the dividends paid to the Quebec government will also eventually be paid to the First Nations governments. Let's not forget that there is an economic component to the Indigenous title.

Gilbert DominiqueChef des Pekuakamiulnuatsh

To round off the event, participants had the opportunity to visit Centrale Gabrielle-Bodis, Hydro-Québec’s photovoltaic solar power plant in La Prairie. During a tour of the 15-hectare site, they were able to see the facilities, including the 25,740 bifacial panels mounted on fixed supports. They were also able to learn more about the workings of the photovoltaic panels, the inverters, the control system, the energy storage system and distribution on the transmission network.

Guides from EVLO, a subsidiary of Hydro-Québec, and Innergex explain the workings of Centrale Gabrielle-Bodis in La Prairie.

We would like to thank everyone who participated in this workshop, especially the First Nations members of the panel on First Nations leadership in renewable energy projects: Chief Mike Delisle for the Des Cultures wind farm; Fred Vicaire for the Mesgi’g Ugju’n wind farm; Chief Gilbert Dominique for the Mashteuiatsh energy chain; Chief Lance Haymond for the Onimiki mini-hydroplant project; and Zachary Simard and Denis Clary for the Opitciwan forest biomass cogeneration plant.

We would also like to thank the speakers, including Mathieu Johnson and Mathieu Boucher of Hydro-Québec, Pierre-Olivier Pineault of HEC Montréal, François Gauvreau of Indigenous Services Canada, Marianne Audette-Chapdelaine of Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), Éric-Pascal Ciaburro of Canada Economic Development (CED), Michel Lagacé of Alliance de l’énergie de l’Est, and Nancy Fillion of the FNQLSDI.