“I want my daughters to have the choice to go goose hunting for a week with their father and I want the geese to still come up here. I wanted that option to be there for them. That’s why clean energy and sustainability is important to me.”
When you first meet Blaine Chislett, his presence can be rather intimidating – tall, built, and upon speaking to him, you quickly learn of his impressive hunting portfolio. As you get to know him a bit better, you soon realize his kind and caring demeanor, which underlines his work in the Kivalliq region and in the clean energy sphere.
Blaine was born and raised in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, and he is currently the maintenance manager for Sakku Investments, the Inuit Development Corporation, which represents the interests of all Inuit of the Kivalliq region. He is also a proud alumnus of the 20/20 Catalysts Program and recipient of the Indigenous Off-Diesel Initiative (IODI) funding, a $20-millioninitiative aimed at reducing diesel reliance in remote Indigenous communities.
From his home in Rankin Inlet, Blaine spoke to ICE staff members about his work at Sakku, his experience in the 20/20 Catalysts Program, and the ongoing project developments from IODI.
“Sakku’s role is to develop sustainable wealth for the Inuit of our region. We really try to facilitate meaningful partnerships with companies that will help us build capacity in the region so that we can be self-sustaining.”
Sakku was incorporated in 1989 and their strategy has been enormously successful in working with world-class venture partners to develop capacities and earn benefits along with employment opportunities for Inuit across the Kivalliq region.
“I look at clean energy as a great investment opportunity for Sakku,” he says, “there is a real need and want across the region to move away from our heavy reliance on diesel.”
To catalyze the change Blaine wanted to see for the region, he felt it was imperative that he build his own capacity about clean energy project development.
In 2018, he enrolled in the 20/20Catalysts Program and a year a later, was a successful applicant for the Indigenous Off-Diesel Initiative (IODI). Through IODI, over the next three years, Blaine and14other clean energy champions and their communities, will receive tailored clean energy training, access to expertise and over $1million dollars in financial resources to develop and implement ambitious diesel reduction plans and projects.
Blaine and Sakku Investments have many projects on the go, some of which are clean energy related; for example, the hydro-fibre link project the community is pursuing.
The Kivalliq Inuit Association (KIA) and Anbaric Development Partners are developing the Kivalliq Hydro-Fibre Link, a 1,200-kilometre, 230 kV / 150 MW electric transmission line that would extend from Manitoba into the Kivalliq region of Nunavut delivering renewable energy and broadband internet service to five remote communities — Baker Lake, Rankin Inlet, Arviat, Chesterfield Inlet and Whale Cove.
According to Nunavut News, “KIA has projected that the hydro line will result in a 50 per cent reduction in power supply costs for the Qulliq Energy Corporation in the five communities served.”
This Inuit-led project also anticipates faster internet download speeds, which, as described in the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) site, “would bring broadband connectivity to the region for the first time, improving telecommunications services for local people, businesses, and public service delivery.”
“It was really important to me and to Sakku Investments that these communities don’t feel left behind with this [hydro-fibre link] project. We want all communities in the Kivalliq region to have clean energy solutions to help reduce their reliance on diesel. It’s so important for energy security, climate change and improving the everyday life for Nunavummiut,” says Chislett upon talking about the transmission project.
“That is why I’m focusing the IODI funding and my energy on creating community energy plans for Naujaat and Coral Harbour and exploring renewables like solar, wind, and geothermal for those communities. Each community has a stake in this clean energy future, whether that is a transmission project or an off-grid project.”
How has the 20/20 Catalysts Program impacted you and your work?
“The mentorship aspect of the program has been very helpful. That one-on-one time with mentors allowed me to connect, share struggles and discuss how to overcome those. The 20/20Catalysts Program made you feel like you are not alone on you clean energy journey. Still to this day, I recall the conversations with the ICE team and they always lead me in the right direction. I’m grateful for that friendship and that working relationship.”