Written by: Amanda Stanger, Indigenous Programs Manager
In the spring of 2021, Saugeen Ojibway Nation and Relay Education were successful in obtaining grant funding from the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO). The IESO is the Crown corporation responsible for operating the electricity market and directing the operation of the bulk electrical system in the province of Ontario. The IESO puts out grants to support education and capacity building about renewable energy in First Nation communities in Ontario. This funding helps support awareness, education, skills and building initiatives in hopes to contribute to cleaner, more reliable and affordable energy systems.
Saugeen Ojibway Nation received funding for Relay to deliver renewable energy programming to two local First Nation communities – Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation and Saugeen First Nation. Relay wants to acknowledge the Territory of the Anishinabek Nation: The People of the Three Fires known as Ojibway, Odawa, and Pottawatomie Nations. And further give thanks to the Chippewas of Saugeen, and the Chippewas of Nawash, known collectively as the Saugeen Ojibway Nation, as the traditional keepers of this land.
For Saugeen First Nation, the programming took place in the form of 10 online workshops for students in grades 4 to 8. Relay’s online workshops taught students about the importance of renewable energy and the damaging effects non-renewable energy can have on the environment and human health. We highlighted First Nation communities that have solar or wind energy projects in their communities. Students found our workshops engaging as we played games and completed activities where students could showcase their knowledge.
In the Chippewas of Nawash community, we were able to partake in some in-person programming at Kikendaasogaming Elementary School engaging students of all ages from Kindergarten to grade 8. I delivered presentations for all grades and some experiments exploring electrical circuits. Students got to work hands-on with our science equipment and gained knowledge of how electrical systems work.
We engaged about 211 students in the Territory of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation during the virtual and in-person renewable energy programs.
At the end of the week kids got to demonstrate what they had learned by designing and building their own model solar cars and wind turbines. This is always amazing to see because each student has unique ideas and every model is different and engineered by the students.
We went outside to race our solar cars and were greeted by a Snowy Owl which is always a rare treat, but especially in June. In Ojibway culture, the owl is called Gookooko’oo and is a favourable messenger. It was a great way to end our week of workshops.