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
Have you ever been in a library that's ten thousand years old? La'goot Spencer Greening has spent years in his peoples' library, Tsimshian territory, as a student of its culture, laws and oral history, learning what environmental conservation means from an Indigenous perspective.
For Coastal Shellfish Corporation, a scallop aquaculture venture located on the rainy northwest coast of British Columbia, two things matter most: sustainable business in an area too familiar with the boom and bust of fishing industries, and that their activities cause as little harm to the natural environment as possible.
“I kept thinking of the prime minister and how he said there was no more important relationship than the one with Indigenous people. And then here come all these guns…Reconciliation is not at the barrel of a gun.”- Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chief Na’moks reflects on the RCMP raid of a resistance camp blocking construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline in January, 2019.
If you’re not quick enough to look right on Highway 16, just after the bridge in Fraser Lake, B.C., you might miss Stellako. About 300 members of the Stellat’en First Nation live in this tidy, quiet village tucked beneath tree-speckled mountains. The local gas station sells Sasquatch memorabilia.
The Stellat'an band is one of 20 First Nations who have signed a Mutual Benefit Agreement (MBA) with TransCanada's Coastal GasLink’s LNG pipeline project.
Colourful pictographs decorate several rocks that curve slightly over the waters of Stuart Lake in central interior British Columbia. The primordial drawings were made by the ancestors of the Dakelh-speaking First Nations and Nak’azdli Whut’en, who live at the southeast end of the lake.
The Nak’azdli roots are deep and date back 10,000 years. It is a home they’ve fiercely protected from enemy takeovers in the past. Revered Chief Kw’eh, ‘Dreamer of the salmon,’ was buried at the mouth of the Stuart River in 1840.
Forward-thinking wisdom of chiefs and elders:
Eli Enns says the first Indian agent that came to Tla-o-qui-aht territory on the Pacific coast at Vancouver island was a fella named Harry Giliod.
He arrived in the late 1880s, "with the church and the feds.”
Two communities in the Tŝilhqot'in Nation are saying "yes" - yes to clean energy solutions, yes to self-determined economic development and yes to a brighter, more sustainable future for their families and future generations.
Imagine fighting for your right to exist, your entire life. That’s the reality of any Indigenous person living in the world today. To live is to fight - to fight for your lands and waters, rights, spirituality, culture, future generations. It’s a fight known too well by the Tŝilhqot'in Nation, comprised of six distinct but unified communities located in the interior of what is now known as British Columbia.
Shaunna Morgan Siegers was first called by the land and water when she was 18, halfway through her first year at university.
She says she could see herself sitting on the high banks of the Rupert River, looking west at the setting sun. She headed home, to the Waskaganish First Nation on the southern shores of James Bay, in northern Quebec.
It was an apology decades in the making.
Initially delayed for a day by a storm, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrived in Iqaluit, capital of the Arctic Canadian territory of Nunavut, on March 8, to deliver an historic apology to Inuit communities.
The apology, on behalf of the Crown, was related to the federal government's mismanagement of tuberculosis in the Arctic from the 1940s to the 1960s.
Canada's Clean Economy
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.
Canada is omitting a major source of pollution from its calculations of impacts of a key climate change policy, according to a federal document. The methodology is putting Canada at odds with policies adopted by both the United States and California.
Coal workers and their communities need to be included in the government's coal phase-out discussions, say labour leaders, in order to build trust around environmental initiatives and craft policy that is better connected to real anxieties and concerns.
More than two years after the Trudeau government's first infrastructure budget in 2016, it still has yet to show how much money has gone out the door to fund projects that are underway — valued at over $9 billion so far.