Crown-Indigenous Relations Canada (CIRNAC) and Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) provide First Nations, Inuit and Northern communities funding for programs, services, and initiatives (Indigenous Northern Affairs)
. The following are the funding programs that the communities can apply for:
First Nation Infrastructure Fund (FNIF)
The main aim of the FNIF program is to improve the welfare and environment of the First Nations communities by helping them further develop and enhance the infrastructure of their communities. The fund is meant to offer support across different sectors, but the two relevant sectors for energy are “planning and skills development” and “energy systems”. The energy projects that the communities are looking to work on fall under these two categories. The communities can apply for the FNIF through the First Nation Infrastructure Investment Plan available for the community. It is worth knowing that the fall of each year is the deadline for submitting the FNIF.
Community Opportunity Readiness
The main aim of the program is to help Aboriginal communities that are pursuing, or want to take part in an economic opportunity, by funding them. This program is available for First Nation and Inuit communities, any organizations and associations they control (except for charitable and religious ones), and their governments (Tribal Councils included). The following activities are funded by the program:
- • any activity that brings private sector investments and backs the pursuit of an economic opportunity, like, marketing, planning, feasibility studies, etc...
- • any activity that can fill any available equity gaps in community-owned businesses. For instance, commercial development, market development, and business advisory services and training
- • business development related activities that come through the development of the community’s economic infrastructure
The idea of implementing renewable energy systems in the communities is itself an economic opportunity and most of the activities involved in the process will certainly meet the program’s eligibility criteria.
Clean Energy for Rural and Remote Communities (CERRC) program by Natural Resources Canada
The program’s main purpose is the reduction of dependence on diesel in rural and remote communities, and it funds projects that help achieve that. Projects that fit into one of the following streams are eligible to apply:
CERRC is a six-year program that will end on March 31, 2024, more detailed information about it can be found here
. This program is the most suitable funding program for energy development and the implementation of renewable energy systems in the communities.
Education and Training Programs
The CERRC Program supports training programs established by governments, Indigenous organizations, and for-profit or not-for-profit corporations that set-up training programs with durations of up to five years. The program was specifically designed for “community-level capacity building that will increase clean energy opportunities”. Program streams, or priority areas, include:
- • Scaling up, modifying or improving curriculum and technical training.
- • Development and delivery of training for communities that build skills or knowledge.
- • Network development / peer-to-peer learning opportunities.
- • Connecting community leaders with each other and supporting/developing community networks or initiatives.
- • Community energy planning or community energy literacy
- • Development of community energy plans or community energy literacy for rural and remote communities, on a regional basis.
Employers in Saskatchewan can also apply for the provincial Canada-Saskatchewan Job Grant for training employees. This funding is available is available for for-profit or not-for-profit companies owned by First Nations.
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) provides funds for training programs that could be accessed to provide funds for clean energy sector training in or for Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation communities.
In Saskatchewan, funding for pre-employment training programs, delivered by Tribal Councils or First Nations, are distributed from INAC through its Indigenous Skills and Employment Training Program (ISET) to the Saskatchewan Indian Training Assessment Group (SITAG).
SITAG funds Tribal Councils and First Nations for pre-employment training, or individuals in diploma and degree programs. Specific training programs for clean energy could be developed and delivered by Tribal Councils, First Nations, or their affiliates, based on need and with the support of SITAG and its board of directors.