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Indigenous communities are leading Canada’s clean energy transition – The Globe and Mail

April 17, 2024

Nestled amidst the pristine wilderness of British Columbia’s Northern Rockies lies Fort Nelson, a community that was forever changed by the gas industry. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for shale gas extraction transformed this remote corner of Canada into a battleground of environmental concerns and economic aspirations.

“My territory is rich in natural resources like oil, gas, timber and water. Oil and gas industries have come and ravaged and exploited these resources for their benefits,” says Taylor Behn-Tsakoza, a member of the Fort Nelson First Nation.

For a while, Fort Nelson’s streets were bustling, and its economy was thriving. Then, as quickly as companies rushed in to capitalize off the energy boom, they were gone.

The downturn in the gas sector, beginning in 2008, resulted in numerous job losses, business shutdowns and a decrease in real estate values, not to mention deserted gas wells, wastewater pits, aging compressor stations and abandoned pipelines snaking through the territory.

Since then, Fort Nelson First Nation is making efforts to clean up the damage, and shift from fossil fuels to clean and renewable energy.

Indigenous lands are often the birthplace of clean energy initiatives aimed at repairing the damage done by gas extraction, addressing environmental degradation and economic challenges alike. These projects are made even more personal by Indigenous peoples’ connections to the land.

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