Arctic Energy Champions Come Together to Learn and Share Expertise on Renewable Energy in the North

WHITEHORSE, YT, Jan. 13, 2023 /CNW/ – The Government of Canada is committed to working in collaboration with Indigenous and northern partners to tackle climate change, accelerate the transition to clean energy and create impactful and local economic opportunities in the North and Arctic.

From January 15 to 21, eleven energy champions will meet in Whitehorse, Yukon, to acquire new skills, build collaboration networks, visit projects in Old Crow and Teslin, and share expertise on the integration of renewable energy resources for remote Arctic communities. Their goal is to gain the knowledge, tools and networks needed to develop their own clean energy projects in their communities to ensure a greener, cleaner and more prosperous region.

The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Natural Resources, and the Honourable Dan Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs, PrairiesCan, CanNor and Polar Knowledge Canada, today congratulated Gwich’in Council International and Polar Knowledge Canada on the successful delivery and planning of ARENA II to date.

This is the second cohort of the Arctic Remote Energy Networks Academy (ARENA), a unique circumpolar knowledge-sharing program combining community site visits with participant knowledge exchanges, presentations, demonstrations and mentorship. The objective of the program is to connect emerging energy champions and provide skills, knowledge and networks to develop clean energy projects in their own communities or regions. Additionally, the program aims to improve community energy resilience, enable sustainability in Arctic energy development and achieve balance between economic viability, energy security and environmental and public health concerns in the circumpolar Arctic region.

Building on the success of the initial program, and after delays due to COVID-19, the second cohort began the ARENA II program in 2022. Sessions were held in Fairbanks and Kotzebue, Alaska, in July, and in Reykjavík, Iceland, in October. They will reconvene in Whitehorse this weekend for the final sessions of the program.

Indigenous and Arctic leadership in the clean energy sector and in remote northern communities through ARENA has been successful in part to a combined contribution of over $281,000 from the Government of Canada for the design and delivery of ARENA II.

This investment demonstrates the Government of Canada’s commitment to meaningful participation, ownership and decision-making by Indigenous Peoples in natural resource development as they expand innovative clean energy solutions to displace fossil fuels, advance self-determination and combat climate change.


“Indigenous and Northern communities are on the forefront of the fight against climate change. I would like to congratulate the 11 energy champions participating in ARENA II, who are working to deploy clean energy and develop local solutions. The Government of Canada is pleased to support this important work.”

The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson 

Minister of Natural Resources Canada

“Our government is proud to support clean energy projects across the North and Arctic. Transformational initiatives like the Arctic Remote Energy Networks Academy program will help Canada meet its climate objectives and, more importantly, serve as the foundation for resilient and thriving northern communities. By reuniting emerging energy champions from different regions of the circumpolar North, this initiative nurtures scientific collaboration and brings positive outcomes for a greener and more prosperous region.”

The Honourable Dan Vandal 

Minister of Northern Affairs, PrairiesCan, CanNor and Polar Knowledge Canada

“Gwich’in Council International is pleased to co-lead this project as a pathway to energy self-sufficiency and sovereignty and to work in partnership with Canada to deliver the on-site in the Yukon. Energy is connected to economies, housing, food security, health, self-sufficiency and sovereignty. We need ways to address high energy costs, lack of infrastructure and dependence on diesel. Arctic communities are at the forefront of climate change but also at the forefront of innovation, and ARENA aims to share and apply this expertise.”

Devlin Fernandes 

Executive Director, Gwich’in Council International

Quick Facts

  • Natural Resources Canada provided $199,572 in funding from Clean Energy for Rural and Remote Communities (CERRC), a $453-million program that strives to reduce reliance on diesel in rural and remote communities by deploying and demonstrating renewable energy projects, encouraging energy efficiency and building local skills and capacity. The program is part of the government’s Investing in Canada plan, a more than $180-billion investment in public transit projects, green infrastructure, social infrastructure, trade and transportation routes and Canada’s rural and northern communities.
  • To support Indigenous, rural and remote communities as they transition to clean energy, the Government of Canada has also created a single-window approach to access resources and energy funding. Building on reconciliation efforts, an Indigenous Council is being formed that will guide the programming and project approval process.
  • Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada provided $81,725 in funding.
  • The Government of Canada recently proposed 30-percent tax credits for the deployment of clean technology in the 2022 Fall Economic Statement.
  • To date, the Northern REACHE program has invested more than $39 million in 161 projects across the North. In Nunavut, 35 projects received $9.7 million in support.
  • Polar Knowledge Canada (POLAR) is a Government of Canada agency whose mission is to conduct world-class Arctic research, advance knowledge of the Canadian Arctic and strengthen Canadian leadership in polar science and technology. POLAR has a unique role to advance our collective understanding of polar environments by mobilizing current knowledge produced by others, in a meaningful and accessible way, to address the gaps and concerns of northern communities.

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SOURCE Natural Resources Canada

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