Winner of the student competition: Energy gives her power

Prior to coming to Iqaluit in 2019, she worked on community renewable energy projects in Ontario and New York State.

The following interview has been edited and condensed.

Were you interested in renewable energy growing up? Was it like we talked about it back then?

When I first started focusing on climate justice, renewables weren’t my top priority. Back then there was more dialogue about ‘Here’s what’s wrong, we’re all going to be dead in 30 years’ which is really anxiety-provoking – and we need to be aware of climate anxiety. In my late teens, I realized that we needed to find solutions and not just point out problems, and it was in college that I started thinking about renewable energy. Since my arrival, the conversation has changed and we are now talking about how we can use the solutions we have. We just need the political will to do it.

What myth do you want to bust about renewable energy in the Arctic?

The question I get asked the most is, “Does solar power work in the Arctic?” Some communities sometimes see 24 hours of darkness, so how does that work? When looking at renewable energy in the Arctic, it is important to look at annual solar energy production. In the summer, some communities see 24 hours of sunshine, so there are times when you are constantly generating electricity. It definitely works.

The term “just transition” is often used in terms of renewable energy. What would a just transition in Nunavut look like to you?

A Just Transition must be community and Inuit-led and incorporate Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (Inuit traditional knowledge and societal values). The Inuit must be significantly consulted in any process, and I don’t see that right now. It’s not just about getting something out there so we can have a renewable energy policy in Nunavut, it has to benefit the Inuit communities and flow from it.

What is one reality of the climate crisis that everyone needs to understand?

For me, the biggest reality that people don’t necessarily understand is the urgency of the climate crisis. There are a lot of climate goals for 2030 or 2050, but things have to change now. It’s that thought that we just need to keep the lights on right now, but we also need to move away from diesel as 100% of the territory’s electricity.

Have you watched the movie “Don’t Look Up”? What are your thoughts?

I did it. When I first got involved in climate justice, the dialogue was mostly, “Here are all the terrible things that are happening,” and I felt that in the film. The message tried to be “There’s an emergency that people don’t take seriously”, which is climate justice accurate, but I prefer the dialogue of “Here’s what we can do to make things better” .

Advocating for climate justice is important, but it can also be exhausting. How to take care of yourself while taking care of the environment?

It can be frustrating to feel that nothing is changing, so it’s important to find or create a network of people who share your concerns and passions. Going outside also reduces my stress. I had a dog a few years ago, so she forces me out, that’s a good thing. Have other passions beyond this one thing that is so big is important.

To what extent do you hope governments and businesses will embrace the transition to renewable energy?

I am optimistic that things are changing. We now realize that leaders are making decisions that affect young people, and companies have embarked on this transition because they will produce cheaper electricity. We just need the territorial government and utility companies to cooperate with us. I am optimistic, but there is still room for improvement.

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