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Leading Voices from the Energy Industry: Closer to home than you think

Our Community Sustainability Manager’s experience leading her hometown in important discussions about a transitioning economy.

Often, when we think about the transition Canada faces going from a fossil fuel economy to a net-zero future, we are thinking about the abstract and big picture: our economy, resources, etc. But we know that the transition is far more personal than that. The people who have worked on the frontlines of the energy industry for years deserve to be placed at the forefront of the conversation and have their voices heard. 

That was the focus of a recent event we hosted in Hinton, Alberta. Hinton is known for being a resource-based economy, albeit a relatively diverse one. As such, it’s no stranger to weathering industry changes that impact a large portion of the community. The people who also call it home know all too well about the potential impacts of working in a resource-based economy: it provides and sustains their livelihoods and can be a big part of people's identity, but there are also potential health and environmental impacts that people see firsthand.

These are some of the themes we explored in our first of three community workshops. The overarching goal is to get more voices heard in the conversation about energy development and transition and create stronger and more sustainable communities where no family, group or worker is left behind. 

Following this amazing start, I also attended the recent Hinton Energy Festival as both  Iron & Earth’s Community Sustainability Manager as well as a local community member, which gave me the amazing opportunity to have strong conversations with the public in Hinton, Alberta. 

Iron and Earth was a part of the Hinton Energy Festival that was Hosted by Novus Earth in Partnership with Iron and Earth, Hinton Chamber of Commerce, and the Town of Hinton. This event was designed to celebrate all forms of energy in the area and give both school groups and the public a chance to learn more about energy in their area.  

Residents seemed to resonate with the local faces hosting Iron and Earth’s booth [me—Jazmine Larocque, Community Sustainability Manager, and Alexis Young, local compensated volunteer] and this gave them a place to get involved in conversations happening in their area. This event gave us the chance to introduce our organization to more of the public and answer questions they may have had in person. We discussed the inclusion of rural communities in the topic of just transition and that the focus is not necessarily about pushing current industries out but more about bringing in more opportunities to the community. This can give individuals more access to jobs, have more control over their skills, and introduce new ideas people might want to expand on. 

We had a great success in introducing our community session program to the public and people appreciated hearing about how all the sessions and facilitators are 100% local. As we continue these conversations we’re proud that we’ve developed an approach that puts communities first. Instead of conversations being contentious we’ve found that the community is eager to have these discussions, nuanced and balanced in their approach, and interested in keeping the conversation going. It all starts by having a locals-first perspective. 

Read the full report on our first session.

Register for our second Hinton session coming November 5th, 2022

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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.

We also acknowledge all peoples who live, work, and play on this land, and who honour and celebrate this territory.
As individuals and teams we may make mistakes along the way, but we are dedicated to growth, openness, compassion, and forgiveness. These principles in our work are essential to building successful and healthy relationships with individuals, communities, organizations, and governments.

We look forward to building a path to lead us to a better relationship with Indigenous nations and the environment around us based on peace, friendship, and respect.