Environmental groups and Indigenous Nations across Alberta set to receive up to $500K in local grants

Calgary, May 16, 2023 – Alberta Ecotrust Foundation is proud to announce the 2023 recipients of its Environmental Impact Grant, supporting innovative and impactful projects that address the pressing environmental challenges facing Alberta today.

After a two stage application and review process, Alberta Ecotrust Foundation’s Environmental Advisory Committee selected ten projects to receive grants of $50,000 each.  The selected projects represent a wide range of environmental issues facing Alberta, centred around the Foundation’s focus areas of Nature-based Solutions and Conservation, Climate Resilience and Emissions Reduction, and Circular Economy.

“I am very excited about our 2023 Environmental Impact Grant projects. Our grantees are leading some of Alberta’s most innovative environmental solutions right now, motivated by their passion for healthy, thriving ecosystems and communities. They rose to meet our key priorities across our focus areas including some really leading work like advancing Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas in Alberta”, said Lori Rissling Wynn, Program Specialist and co-lead of Alberta Ecotrust Foundation’s Environmental Grant Programs. “The funded projects will not only deliver on solutions to the dual crises of biodiversity loss and climate change, but they will also advance equity, support UNDRIP, the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action, and foster healthy ecosystems for Albertans.”

“On-reserve housing for First Nations is not immune to the climate challenges facing the world. Housing must be transformed to ensure Siksika Nation members can meet the energy challenges of now and into the future. This means housing that reduces carbon emissions and energy costs while also providing homes that are respectful to the earth and the needs of future generations. Siksika Housing is very thankful for receiving this grant from Alberta Ecotrust Foundation to build two energy-efficient homes with Form Polarblock foundations and Ecoplast wall panels.  These two homes will not only provide much needed housing for two Siksika Nation families but will ensure energy efficiency and financial security for decades to come.” – Ryan Hall, Siksika Nation Housing Manager.

Alberta Ecotrust Foundation would like to thank its supporters, corporate and visionary partners, and volunteers for the continued support and helping turn positive intentions into meaningful actions to preserve our ecosystems.

These projects were chosen based on their potential to significantly impact key environmental issues in Alberta and their alignment with the Foundation’s mission and values.

The recipients of the 2023 Environmental Impact Grant are:

Arusha Centre

Repair Exchange Calgary is a project that will pilot city-wide Repair Exchanges to create a wide-reaching and sustainable program in Calgary. Funded by the City of Calgary, it is an initiative which aims to improve knowledge and skills around repairing personal and household items, while building community capacity for moving towards a circular economy. The Environmental Impact Grant will support activities to make Repair Exchange Calgary feasible, sustainable, and self-sufficient into the future.

Blood Tribe Land Management

Kainais’ skahkoyii, home to the Blackfoot people, includes over 38,000 acres of native grasslands, an important cultural resource, and a significant tract of globally endangered temperate grasslands. These lands have been stewarded by the Blackfoot for millennia supporting spiritual and cultural practices. Grasslands on the reserve are under threat from multiple pressures, but enhanced management tools can help steward and safeguard these lands. Development of an invasive plant monitoring framework, and a range plant community guide will support land use decisions. These initiatives work in harmony to support holistic management of culturally significant native grasses and medicines on the Blood Reserve. 

Canadian Wildlife Federation

This initiative will restore freshwater connectivity in the Berland-Wildhay watershed. Guided by a conservation planning framework, partners will use spatial modelling and field assessments to quantify connectivity status of the watershed for target fish species, set goals to improve connectivity, prioritize barriers for assessment, and implement strategies and actions to remove or rehabilitate them.

Climate Caucus Council

Climate Caucus, in collaboration with the Recycling Council of Alberta, the Town of Rocky Mountain House, Community Energy Association Alberta, and Alberta Municipalities will develop a toolkit of Circular Economy (CE) initiatives for local governments. Resources will include a detailed menu with best practices, case studies, key contacts, sample bylaws, and implementation steps. We will provide  workshops for elected officials and municipal staff. This toolkit will help local leaders implement CE initiatives effectively with a goal to build momentum among elected leaders and provide resources and tools for staff implementation.  

Cows and Fish

With the Enhancing capacity for riparian management within Indigenous communities to increase socio-ecological resilience project, Cows and Fish will improve riparian management in Indigenous communities by sharing their expertise with landowners, land managers, and conservation staff. This will involve training on riparian health assessment, restoration, and management to increase knowledge and skills. The goal is to expand the impact of the project by having trained individuals share their expertise with their communities.

Miistakis Institute for the Rockies

Miistakis’ project will measure groundwater levels alongside installed Beaver dam analogues (BDAs) to demonstrate measurable impacts to groundwater storage. Miistakis will partner with the Blood Tribe Land Management, Cows and Fish and Trout Unlimited Canada to monitor the impacts of BDAs in the foothills of Southern Alberta.

Newo

From summer 2023 to 2024, Newo Global Energy will work in relationship with Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation to employ and support Nation members in the development of several solar and energy efficiency projects. By developing strong interpersonal relationships alongside attention to mind, body, spirit, and emotion, community members will be empowered to retain, within the Nation, the economic and employment benefits derived from these projects. Held within a healthy and strong community, climate transition will also become a conduit for connection to traditional knowledge, language, and healing. “The times are urgent. Let us slow down” – Bayo Akomolafe

Oldman Watershed Council

Building Capacity for Community Aquatic Biomonitoring on Alberta’s Eastern Slopes is an ambitious grassroots project embarking on developing the very first CABIN reference model for Alberta’s Eastern Slopes – an invaluable aquatic monitoring tool whose benefits will ripple out into the community and be useful to First Nations and community biomonitoring groups, academic researchers, and all levels of government. By developing a robust model and building capacity for biomonitoring in local First Nations communities and watershed stewardship groups, this multi-year initiative will reduce economic barriers, increase social capital, and improve aquatic biomonitoring across the headwaters of Alberta.

Siksika Housing

Siksika Housing has partnered with Form Innovations, a Cochrane-based housing CleanTech startup specializing in a new innovative energy efficient foundation system called Polarblock, and with Ecoplast, manufacturers of recycled plastic bottle wall assemblies.  Siksika Nation members are not immune to the impacts of higher utility costs, and increased GHG emissions that result from inefficient homes.  These two new homes will help advance energy efficient housing at Siksika Nation to ensure future generations live in comfortable, warm, and energy efficient homes that will last for generations.

Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative

This initiative will work with the Blackfoot Confederacy and Stoney Nakoda Nations to advance their conservation visions while engaging with allies/partners on decisions that threaten the region’s ecological integrity. The goal is to advance community-led conservation of Alberta’s source waters, habitat connectivity, and biodiversity.