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Catalyst in Action: Kyla Morrisseau | ICE Network

Catalyst in Action: Kyla Morrisseau

Catalyst in Action: Kyla Morrisseau

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“I want to live in a clean and healthy environment with my family”

Kyla Morrisseau has always had a strong and rooted connection with Mother Earth. She remembers being a very environmentally conscientious child. Always trying to keep the land clean and tidy when utilizing outdoor spaces. “I never littered or defaced the natural environment, simply enjoyed it. I loved staying outdoors and living off the land,” she says.

She also remembers being mindful about energy conservation, just as her father taught her. Kyla would go around her home turning off the lights and unplugging devices that were not in use to avoid wasting energy and money. “I have always been a person who only takes what I need.”

Looking back, Kyla recalls having conversations with some of her friends who lived in diesel-fueled homes as a source of heat and power. “They always said their parents wished they had hydro and natural gas because it would be healthier for them. I never really understood what that meant until I was older; but I do remember wishing for my friends to have healthier & cleaner power and heat.”

Deep in her heart she knew that, at some point, this wish along with her loving and caring nature, would take her to a place where her work would make a significant impact in her community.

She currently works as Consultation Coordinator at Animbiigoo Zaagi’igan Anishinaabek (AZA) First Nations community in northwestern Ontario. Her role is to protect the rights and interests of the 500 members of her community. This includes protecting their Aboriginal and Treaty Rights when it comes to mining, forestry, fisheries, cottage development and climate change. She deals with any project concern or issue the council brings to her that might need attention and research before entering the territory of Animbiigoo Zaagi'igan Anishinaabek.

“I am the first point of entry for all industry, ministry and development wanting to come into AZA. I monitor the movement throughout the territory and in the water to protect it from incursion or any kind of negative environmental impact within active projects.”

Kyla’s work also focuses on teaching the community how to mitigate and adapt in a changing climate. She deeply believes in the value of the use of clean energy to fight climate change and lower carbon emissions for future generations. “I want to live in a clean and healthy environment with my family,” she says.

Kyla is steadfast in her love for her community and believes in a better tomorrow. For the past few years, she and AZA have been in the planning phase of developing a new community entirely. Their dream is to establish a model community, one that has access to clean air and water, that is built with energy efficiency in mind. Their goal is to create a healthy and welcoming place to raise a family that still holds the sense of community of AZA.

In moving forward with the development of the AZA Comprehensive Community Plan, last year they installed hydro lines as part of the electrification phase of the process.

The community has also completed the legal surveys of 10 lots and are currently advancing with the designation for the first energy center that, ultimately, will heat 10 homes. AZA has been moving progressively forward in developing a green, sustainable, energy efficient, and healthy community.

“I am anticipating the construction of our first biomass energy centre, as well as our first four houses to be built in this coming year (2022). That will be my proudest moment, seeing the final stage of the vision, which is built on the ground.”

In addition to the great work the community is doing, they have constructed the first foundation for the Ecolodge (Healing and Social Centre), which is another big piece of the AZA Comprehensive Community Plan. For this, Kyla is working with ICE’s Bringing It Home program and is very excited to get going with the community in working on designing a community centre for all ages with the hope to have a place to “bring everyone home.” It is her dream that this project will act like a “two-way job faucet, instead of one”. She says that 12 people from her community already have expressed interest in helping, including youth, women, and elders.

AZA is one of the Guide Communities within Bringing It Home and, as such, they are trying to carve a path between design and policy, showing the way for incorporating energy efficiency into the design of new homes that in the long term will be healthier and more cost effective for their occupants.

“In a very defined sense is to bring the people home and bring them to homes that are healthy, sustainable and durable now and for the next generations. If the community learns how to build them and how to live in them, the sense of pride within will bring a deeper sense of purpose to the community itself.”

Kyla’s clean energy journey started in early 2016 when she joined the development team at the AZA band office. As soon as she started learning about biomass as a source of power, she became passionate about all clean energy matters. Later that year, while attending an environmental conference, she heard about ICE’s 20/20 Catalysts Program. She is now part of ICE’s Advisory Council and, alongside the AZA Community Planner, Kyla is exploring clean energy initiatives for the construction of a green community on their land base.

“Clean energy initiatives run alongside Mother Earth, trying to put a layer of protection around her. Helping our Earth stay intact and fight climate change for as long as possible should be our main priority, because the world’s atmosphere can’t support human life into the next centuries, unless we make changes now.”

“Everything is connected, sacred and precious but the one thing we (the human race) really need to care for is our first Mother, Mother Earth, as she controls humanity’s existence,” Kyla concludes.

How has the 20/20 Catalysts Program impacted you and your work?

"I could not be happier with my time in the 20/20 Catalysts Program. The program is an unstoppable force, and catalysts from the program have become my family.

Not only has the 20/20 Catalyst program help my community advance with clean energy knowledge, lobbying and direction, ICE has helped me become a better public speaker and they gave me the security I needed within the clean energy world to do what I need to do for my community to forge forward. ICE has given my community the right resources at our fingertips to make this happen.

It is like 20/20 lights an unexplainable fire inside of you and it keeps growing and burning brighter."

Bringing It Home is a national initiative working to foster community-centered ‘Healthy Energy Living’ enabling environments that engrain energy efficiency for new and retrofitted homes and facilities, now and for future generations. This enabling environment focuses on strengthening capacity across six key domains: Governance & Leadership, Asset Management, Maintenance, Skills, Design & Construction, and Financing. 

To learn more about the Bringing it Home program go to: https://indigenouscleanenergy.com/bringing-it-home/ 

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