Canada, today, is grappling with two of the most significant challenges in its history: climate change and Reconciliation. Both are complex issues with long legacies that make change uncomfortable, difficult and, at times, seemingly impossible. Both will require us to change the way we think and the way we live. Both are absolutely critical that we solve. And both need new nuclear technology as part of their solution. As a 100% Indigenous-owned company, as Canadians, as people, we are highly invested in doing our part to solve these issues.
Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) have come to the forefront as a potential solution for helping to tackle Canada’s climate change goals, as well as positioning Canada as a leader in the space. The benefits of an energy technology that keeps our air clean, that gives us control over the waste, and that helps us avoid the very real threats of climate change cannot be understated. But what SMRs also bring to the table is the possibility of energy equality.
Something we don’t like to talk about is that the basic life experiences of all Canadians are not equal. While many Canadians take their easy access to clean water, heat and electricity for granted, there are those that do not have such easy access. This is especially true for many Indigenous communities in Canada, particularly those in remote locations where the supply chain is uncertain. In those communities, supplies must be shipped in at great expense, often on roads that are only open at certain times of year. Supplies, including the diesel that provides heat and electricity, must be conserved, and the risk of running out is real. The effect that these limitations have on the quality of life in these communities is significant.
A technology that provides a reliable excess of energy at a low cost could make the kind of change that is transformative, and long overdue. It would enable better internet connectivity, which would improve access to critical services like health care and education. It would allow water purification and the possibility to grow fruits and vegetables indoors, greatly improving health. And, it would allow communities to invest more money in other infrastructure and initiatives, rather than basic needs. In short, it would allow for all of the things most Canadians already have.
These things are critical for Reconciliation in Canada. Reconciliation requires, at a bare minimum, an equality in basic living conditions among all Canadians that does not currently exist. We cannot find a way to move forward together as a country while some are being left behind. While it is not the first thing that springs to mind for most when it comes to Reconciliation, SMRs could have a very real role to play in this very important issue.
However, it is of the utmost importance that Indigenous communities make these decisions for themselves, and be equal partners in shaping Canada’s energy future, not only as consumers, but as potential suppliers, employees and owners of SMR projects. For this to be possible, Indigenous communities must be part of the conversation around SMRs from the beginning, and remain a key player throughout the process. Creative Fire is committed to facilitating those conversations and partnerships.
We are a 100% Indigenous-owned communications and engagement company, and a working model of what can be achieved through the partnership of industry and communities. Owned by the Des Nedhe Group, the economic development arm of English River First Nation, we are part of a group of companies with a 30-year history in the nuclear industry, and whose overall goal is to build prosperity and opportunity for EFRN citizens and communities. As a result of our shared history, we have extensive knowledge of the nuclear sector and longstanding relationships in the space. Creative Fire has, itself, delivered engagement plans, communications strategies and creative solutions for global leaders in the mining and nuclear energy industries.
The prosperity of Indigenous communities and fostering Reconciliation in Canada is also core to our company. We are committed to bringing attention to the importance of Indigenous voices in shaping Canada’s path forward, and playing our part in making space for those voices. Through our work, we help Indigenous and non-Indigenous businesses, governments, organizations and communities connect and communicate. Our team has led engagements and national research initiatives from coast to coast, and across the far North. This has included hundreds of Indigenous communities, municipalities and urban centres. Our method is a collaborative one, with an emphasis on starting as partners to build solid, mutually beneficial relationships and economic outcomes.
When it comes to the future of SMRs in Canada, we know the potential opportunities and benefits are monumental. But we also know that these positive impacts can only be achieved with the trust and support of communities. We are here to help make that happen.
We look forward to continuing to work with provinces, utilities and other leaders in the SMR space to facilitate knowledge and conversations about the place of SMRs in Canada’s energy future.
CAPACITY, ENGAGEMENT, AND PUBLIC CONFIDENCE
Indigenous Engagement, Engagement and capacity building in remote communities
Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 10, 11
Support governments, utilities and other participants in the SMR space to engage meaningfully and build relationships with Indigenous communities, businesses and organizations to foster conversations about the place of SMRs in Canada’s energy future.
- Meaningful long-term relationships between industry, governments and Indigenous communities
- Ongoing, open, honest, respectful dialogue that allows for useful information exchange and understanding
- A clear understanding of the needs, concerns, challenges and realities of all participants
- Identification of opportunities for education, employment, supply chain participation and
- Ownership opportunities that will benefit communities and industry
CAPACITY, ENGAGEMENT, AND PUBLIC CONFIDENCE
Public and Indigenous views
Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 12
Support governments, utilities and other participants in the SMR space to carry out regional qualitative and quantitative research to assess perceptions and knowledge of SMR among Canadians.
- Clear baseline of understanding of current views of SMRs in regions across Canada, including perceived benefits and concerns, as well as level of knowledge.
- Allow governments, utilities, other SMR participants to better address issues raised and communicate about the things Canadians care about.