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First Nation Uses Community Energy Planning to Chart a Clean Energy Future

Lac La Ronge Indian Band’s innovative and inclusive approach to tackle climate change, lower power bills and enhance economic sustainability could serve as a model for others.

Lac La Ronge Indian Band members learn about solar power with instructor Roberta
Giroux (at far left) at Iron & Earth’s solar essentials training program


When community members kept asking the Lac La Ronge Indian Band’s (LLRIB) council why the Band wasn't tackling climate change with local clean energy projects and jobs, the council decided on an innovative approach.

A Community Energy Planning Project was established in 2022, to build capacity, create community energy plans and draft a green housing policy for the Band’s six communities. Based on a thorough door-to-door community consultation to help define its priorities, a Community Energy Plan (CEP) charts a path forward to improve energy efficiency and cut greenhouse gas emissions locally.

The LLRIB project is headed by Jason Cook-Studer, who brings extensive environmental monitoring and protection experience and is himself a member of LLRIB - Saskatchewan’s largest First Nations Band and one of the ten largest Cree Bands in Canada. One of Jason’s first steps as the Project Manager was to hire three coordinators to deliver workshops on sustainability, climate change and energy transition, gather community feedback and conduct a needs assessment for each of the six LLRIB communities.

“There’s high interest (in the project), since people want to fight climate change and reduce their carbon footprint, especially the youth,” says Desiree Maurice, one of the project coordinators.  “What we’re hearing is that community members are curious about clean energy projects and jobs and don't want to leave their communities for a better quality of life by having to take jobs elsewhere.”

That’s why they plan to train community members in the skills needed to work on renewable energy projects, so that both people and their salaries stay in the community. To that end, LLRIB recently partnered with Iron & Earth on a condensed solar skills training program, with more in-depth training to come.

With the needs assessment portion of the CEP recently concluded, the next step is for the Band council to ratify the recommendations, so that the CEP team can begin implementing them. Each of the six LLRIB communities have separate reports and recommendations, based on the natural resources in each community and how much energy they each use.

“We’re planning to have a combination of renewable energy technologies - whether small hydro, solar, wind and electrical battery storage - that’s best suited to each community’s natural resources,” says Jason. “Our southern communities have better potential for wind power, while our northern communities have lots of sunshine that suits solar power. Those communities located near rivers and falls can use run-of-river hydro projects and those surrounded by forests can exploit biomass from logging for cogeneration of power and heat.”

The first step, however, is to work on improving the energy efficiency of Band members’ homes, to stem the loss of energy, and reduce power bills. “We’re working with the highest needs homes first, to figure out what the building envelope looks like and collect baselines on energy usage,” says Desiree. “Then, we suggest what they can do to renovate their home, like using LED bulbs and smart thermostats and insulating their windows.” Other strategies include installing wall Insulation, plugging leaks with caulking and sealant and upgrading furnaces - all with a view to reducing homes' energy needs.

At the same time, community members are also learning about home energy assessments, with some getting trained to become energy advisors who will be able to do legal assessments. Those energy assessments can then be used as a guideline to upgrade homes and to secure home renovation grants and loans from provincial and federal governments.

The CEP project also hopes to inspire others, according to Jason. “Communities north and south of us can see the work we're doing and start planning the same type of projects to lower their power bills and increase their energy sovereignty.” To that end, the CEP team has been networking at regional events and presenting their work in terms of the visioning that’s been done, as well as their future goals. 

LLRIB is in good company. Across Canada, First Nations are leading the way with renewable energy projects, with involvement in nearly 200 projects. Notably, they are increasingly holding partial or full ownership in these projects, further improving their energy sovereignty.

For more information about Iron & Earth’s training opportunities in clean energy, contact us at [email protected] or 778-771-0852. To search for renewable energy jobs or a career Mentor, visit our Climate Career Portal.


Iron & Earth’s training programs are funded in part by the Government of Canada's Sectoral Workforce Solutions Program.

The opinions and interpretations in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Government of Canada.


Iron & Earth is committed to partnering with Indigenous workers to empower their communities to become self-sufficient in training programs, clean energy transition projects, and employment opportunities to combat environmental racism. It falls to all of us to continue the work of healing and reconciliation in our communities and our organizations. Our relationship with the land and the people who live here shapes who we are. It is in the spirit of reconciliation and honouring the past that we recognize treaties and agreements wherever they are and wherever we work.

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