Public Benefit Journalism Project
In partnership with the Centre for Investigative Journalism, I-SEA is pleased to feature quality investigative journalism projects in areas of public interest, with specific emphasis on Indigenous issues and impacts of climate change, and Canada's clean energy technologies.
Toxins In Canada
The documentary opens onto beautiful blue skies, fields of wheat and a house on a farm in Saskatchewan, as country music plays in the background.
The Englots, a family growing wheat, soybeans and canola, discuss their day over morning coffee. Loretta, the mom will tend to her horse and the dogs, while dad Norman and son Luc will scout the field to check for weeds.
In May 2009, Quebec government scientist Louis Robert was 15 minutes away from entering a conference room to give a lecture about phosphorus when he got a phone call from his boss ordering him to call it off.
Lee Johnson is dying.
The 46-year-old former groundskeeper from California regularly handled a popular pesticide called Roundup at his job. On some days he sprayed hundreds of gallons of the formula over several hours around sports fields and schools.
First Nations Forward
Chief Clarence Louie stood against a backdrop of dry hills spotted with sage bushes. Nearby, there's a sign that says to watch for rattlesnakes. He was standing in his territory. It also happens to be Canada's only desert.
He said he looks around the Okanagan, and he sees some of British Columbia's famous provincial parks. And he sees something missing.
The Tŝilhqot’in Nation has been fighting to protect Teẑtan Biny (Fish Lake) for decades. While Taseko Mines' proposed open-pit copper and gold mine has been rejected twice at the federal level, the Liberal government granted permits for an exploratory drilling program — slated to start today — but the nation organized a peaceful protest and sent the construction team home.
The Saulteau and West Moberly First Nations have been working to bring back the Klinse Za caribou herd from the brink of extinction. Five years after they started a maternal pen for pregnant mothers to raise their calves in a protected area, the mountain herd has gone from 16 animals to nearly 100. Caribou guardian Julian Napoleon said his people share the herd's story of strength and survival .
Twenty-four-year-old Jonas Prevost doesn’t own a cellphone. He has some social media accounts, but says he doesn't use them, and he spends most of his time in the forests on Haida Gwaii.
He said if someone wants to get hold of him, they’ll have to just walk to his house in the village, see if his truck is in the driveway and knock on the door.
Despite growing up close to the University of British Columbia, which sits on xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) territory, Vanessa Campbell says that until recently, she’d never visited the school’s botanical garden.
Did you know sheep can protect vulnerable tree seedlings better than chemical sprays?
The Saulteau First Nation sure does. Last year, the B.C. band invested in a herd of sheep and teamed up with two shepherds experienced in sheep veg-management to reduce the use of toxic chemicals in their territory.
Ten years ago, First Nations in coastal B.C.’s Great Bear Rainforest and Haida Gwaii established a special conservation and financing organization to revitalize their economy.
Since then, the organization, Coast Funds, has helped create more than 1,000 new jobs and attract nearly $300 million to the region, says a new report released on Wednesday by Coast Funds.
Eugene Victor went fishing for the first time when he was 17 years old. It was also the first time he met his biological father after growing up in foster care. They went to the Fraser River for the occasion, near Yale First Nation, just north of Hope, B.C..
“Right away I was like, this is where I belong. This is me. I feel at home here,” Victor says.
Ta'kaiya Blaney stepped into a canoe sitting on the steps of Vancouver's Convention Centre, before a group of men lifted her on their shoulders and carried her down the waterfront, as Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) singers and council members led the way.
The singer and advocate from the ɬaʔəmen (Tla'amin) First Nation was being honoured in a canoe procession. Arriving at three longhouses set up in Harbour Green Park in the city's downtown, Blaney addressed the crowd that had followed.
Haisla Nation Chief Councillor Crystal Smith has been called a "traitor" and faced threats on social media, warned not to go anywhere alone at a recent First Nation sporting event.
Smith says she comes from “a long, long line of strong female leaders” in the matriarchal Haisla Nation and has the support of her community against threats, most from outside of Kitamaat Village, B.C. in the Pacific Northwest. The promise of a brighter future keeps her going. She’s never been prouder to be a Haisla Nation member.
Canada's Clean Economy
Infinited Fiber Company’s fabric feels similar to denim, although it is perhaps a little smoother, is cheaper to produce and will likely last longer. But the most interesting part is what it’s made out of: dried and discarded husks from agriculture, recycled and reconstituted cardboard and old clothes.
The biotech company, a spinoff of the state-owned VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, is one among many concrete examples of what’s known as the circular economy. It’s a mainstream term in Europe, but it doesn’t yet exist in the Canadian lexicon.
Canada has become the first country to sign on to the Drive to Zero Pledge, an international initiative aimed at increasing the number of zero and low emission vehicles in the medium- and heavy-duty transportation sector.
By signing the pledge, Canada is joining other partners, including municipal governments, in committing to eliminate barriers and implement mechanisms that accelerate the viability and growth of zero emission technology for these commercial vehicles.
Canada is helping to fund a new initiative connected with a group of wealthy donors like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos to help startups finance new energy technologies that can lower carbon pollution.
Breakthrough Energy Solutions Canada is expected to be a “public-private” initiative orchestrated out of Natural Resources Canada, and will involve annual pitch events where entrepreneurs can perform for investors, Dragons' Den-style.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's Green New Deal is music to the ears of Quebec Premier François Legault.
Under de Blasio’s plan to tackle climate change, unveiled Monday, all city operations would run on 100 per cent “zero-emission Canadian hydropower” within five years. Negotiations would begin “right away” with the aim of signing a deal by the end of 2020.
Canada is home to leading-edge electric bus manufacturing companies, but a report released Thursday by the Vancouver-based think tank Clean Energy Canada says that the country's transit agencies are not buying and using the cleaner buses as fast as their counterparts in other countries.
“The conversation’s really just starting in Canada,” said Merran Smith, Clean Energy Canada’s executive director.
“We’ve got four buses in Vancouver, two in Victoria, 10 in Toronto,” Smith said. “Our leader is Montreal with 36 buses ... Overall, Canada’s approach is very cautious and there isn’t a good reason for it (to be cautious).”
There is mistrust and suspicion of government intentions. There are fears about devastating impacts to communities. There's anxiety over whether officials can deliver on promises. And there's frustration with being disparaged as dirty.
These are some of the stark assessments from the thousands of workers in coal mines and coal-fired power plants across Canada that were captured by 11 experts appointed by the government almost a year ago.
The special task force was launched by Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna on April 25, 2018 to investigate how to fairly provide for these workers as their livelihoods are taken offline over the next decade.
Alberta's NDP government is planning a new auction for renewable energy capacity that is aiming to move it closer to its 2030 target of getting 30 per cent of its electricity supply from wind, solar and other green sources.
The government announced plans on Tuesday to add another 400 megawatts of renewable electricity capacity to its energy mix by way of an auction that mandates that the winning project or projects benefit Indigenous communities.
The auction will be the fourth auction of renewable electricity capacity as the oil-rich province creeps closer to its 2030 target, the government said in a statement. Currently about 10 per cent of Alberta’s electricity generation comes from renewable sources, the statement added.
Alberta's NDP government says that sharp reductions in pollution from electricity production in the oil-rich province over the past two years prove that carbon pricing is effective.
The new numbers are based on the data that the government collects from the electricity-generating facilities themselves and was made available on request to National Observer.
The developers of a long-delayed electricity transmission project to transport hydroelectric power from Quebec to the New York City metropolitan area say that construction will start in 2020.
British Columbia's environment and climate change minister has his work cut out for him. Last month, George Heyman committed to reduce B.C.’s greenhouse gas emissions 40 per cent below 2005 levels by the year 2030.
Through any lens, it is a tall order. To meet its goal, government will need to do nothing short of transform our communities and industries. Specifically, the province will need to convert everything that now runs on fossil fuels — home furnaces, vehicles, factories, the works — to instead run efficiently on clean and renewable electricity.