How straw homes could help solve the First Nations housing crisis

Indigenous communities across the province are dealing with inadequate housing. Farmers’ fields may hold the answer

construction on a straw house
Workers from the Endeavour Centre construct an office building for the Trillium Lakelands Elementary Teachers’ Local in Lindsay, Ontario, in 2014. (Courtesy of the Endeavour Centre)

You’ve probably seen the pale-yellow bales of straw dotting farmers’ fields throughout Ontario. The remnants of cereal harvests, they can be used as fodder and biofuel — and, increasingly, as construction material, forming and insulating the walls of rural homes.

Marianne Griffith, director of the London-based non-profit Building Better, says she’s seen a spike in interest in sustainable-living projects from Indigenous communities, including Chippewas of the Thames First Nation, which has launched the Chippewa Sustainable Living Project, a two-hectare site that will showcase sustainable living technologies like an off-the-grid home and self-sufficient tiny homes. “Most recently we’ve worked predominantly with First Nations,” she says. “It wasn’t necessarily something that we set out to do, but it’s looking like it’s our new direction.”  MORE

 

The wrong chiefs are signing pipeline benefit agreements

Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition director reminds of hereditary chiefs’ authority.

TransCanada’s press release about their Coastal GasLink pipeline project having 100 per cent sign on with all the elected Indigenous bands is an incredibly misleading statement.

What the average Canadian does not know is that some of those bands (band councils) only have jurisdiction within their reservation boundary while the hereditary chiefs have jurisdiction over the traditional territories.

What I begrudge are the repeated efforts of industry and the complicity of the B.C. government in creating these deals with band councils when they know there are hereditary systems they need to consult.

In the case of the Wet’suwet’en and Gitxsan, the hereditary system has been tested in court several times and has helped form the very laws from which most aboriginal rights and title cases have been based. “The Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs’ have never ceded nor surrendered their territory, nor have we lost it to war,” from time immemorial the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs mandate has been and continues today and into the future is to protect the land and its people. The Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs do not endorse nor support pipeline projects that threaten the health and well-being of our lands and our people.” –DebbiePierre, executive director of the Office of the Wet’suwet’en. MORE

 

The Green New Deal Rises Again

It was a good idea that didn’t catch on in 2007. Now we’re running out of time.


A technician monitoring turbines at a wind farm in Glenrock, Wy.CreditCreditDamon Winter/The New York Times

There is no agreed-upon policy road map for a Green New Deal. But as one of the leading climate bloggers, Joe Romm, recently pointed out, “Since the midterms, dozens of U.S. representatives and at least four Democratic senators have pledged support to create a Select Committee to create legislation for a Green New Deal.

The goal is a ‘detailed national, industrial, economic mobilization plan’ to rapidly transition the country away from fossil fuels and toward clean energy, such as a solar, wind, and electric cars.”

The Green New Deal that Ocasio-Cortez has laid out aspires to power the U.S. economy with 100 percent renewable energy within 12 years and calls for “a job guarantee program to assure a living wage job to every person who wants one,” “basic income programs” and “universal health care,” financed, at least in part, by higher taxes on the wealthy. MORE

What Gives Me Climate Hope For 2019

Image result for sunrise movement youth

Sunrise, founded a year and a half ago by a dozen or so twentysomethings, has established itself as the dominant influence on the environmental policy of the Democrat’s young, progressive wing. Photograph by Michael Brochstein / SOPA / Getty

Will global leaders continue to inch slowly forward on addressing the climate crisis? Or will the world make a giant leap ahead to solve this most critical existential challenge ever encountered by we humans?

Four Reasons For Climate Hope

1. Youth Rising

I’m energized by the worldwide rise of youth in the climate movement. The voice of youth resonates loudly, and with unencumbered clarity, with politicians and world leaders.

Once we start to act, hope is everywhere ~ Greta Thunberg

Their innocence grips adults at an emotional level, in the gut and in the heart. I see the promise of their ideas, their energy and their resilience. MORE

China launches subsidy-free solar, wind power after project costs fall

Image result for A man rides an electric scooter past a wind turbine in Shanghai, China August 11, 2017.
A man rides an electric scooter past a wind turbine in Shanghai, China August 11, 2017. REUTERS/Aly Song

The new subsidy-free projects will generate renewable power for sale at the same prices as non-subsidised coal-fired power plants, and will not have to comply with capacity quota restrictions, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) announced on Wednesday. It added that the projects would, however, receive support on land and financing.

“Some regions with good natural resources and firm demand have already achieved subsidy-free, or grid price parity, conditions,” said the NDRC, adding the pilot projects could help renewable energy to compete with coal-fired power. MORE

 

United Nations instructs Canada to suspend Site C dam construction over Indigenous rights violations

Image result for United Nations instructs Canada to suspend Site C dam construction over Indigenous rights

The world’s foremost racial discrimination committee says Canada must work with Indigenous communities to find an alternative to the $10.7 billion hydro project in B.C.

In a rare rebuke, the United Nations has instructed Canada to suspend construction of the Site C dam on B.C.’s Peace River until the project obtains the “free, prior and informed consent” of Indigenous peoples.

Canada has until April 8 to report back to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination outlining steps it has taken to halt construction of the hydro project, which would flood 128 kilometres of the Peace River and its tributaries in the heart of Treaty 8 traditional territory. MORE

 

Whose Land Is It Anyway? A Manual for Decolonization

Whose Land Is It Anyway? A Manual for Decolonization is available free to the public as an e-book

Whose Land is it Anyway

Whose Land Is It Anyway? A Manual for Decolonization; was inspired by a 2016 speaking tour  by Arthur Manuel, less than a year before his untimely passing in January 2017.

The book contains two essays from Manuel, described as the Nelson Mandela of Canada, and essays from renowned Indigenous writers Taiaiake Alfred, Glen Coulthard, Russell Diabo, Beverly Jacobs, Melina Laboucan-Massimo, Kanahus Manuel, Jeffrey McNeil-Seymour, Pamela Palmater, Shiri Pasternak, Nicole Schabus, Senator Murray Sinclair, and Sharon Venne. FPSE is honoured to support this publication.

DOWNLOAD HERE:

Glavin: Pipeline protests – how politicians got it all wrong


Alex Spence, centre, who is originally from Haida Gwaii, beats a drum and sings during a march in support of pipeline protesters in northwestern British Columbia, in Vancouver, on Tuesday. DARRYL DYCK / THE CANADIAN PRESS

There may be no right way to do fossil-fuel megaprojects at all anymore if we’re going to have a hope in hell of meeting our 2015 Paris Climate Accord commitments, but as far as the massive LNG Canada Kitimat plant and pipeline project goes – with the showdown this week on a remote British Columbia backroad that immediately escalated into protests and marches and sit-ins across the country – the politics, promises and planning seem to have gotten just about everything wrong.

It’s the aboriginal rights and title of the Wet’suewet’en people that are at stake here, and that’s the subject that the federal Liberal government, and B.C.’s NDP government, are trying to avoid.

You could start with the way Prime Minister Justin Trudeau cheered LNG Canada’s announcement last October that the green light LNG got from B.C’s NDP government meant full steam ahead for its long-planned $40 billion project, which is to include a new pipeline from Dawson Creek in the Peace River country to a liquifaction plant and export facility at Kitimat on the B.C. coast. MORE

Canada joins key global renewables agency

 

Canada has become a member of a key intergovernmental agency that promotes the adoption of solar, wind, geothermal and other forms of renewable energy.

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has described Canada as an “important market” for renewables over the long term. Ottawa has been in talks since at least early 2017 to become a member of the group, and on Wednesday, the government made it official. MORE