Alberta Friendship Centres partner with SAIT for retrofitting project and summit series

Person speaks while holding a microphone in front of a room full of people sitting around tables.
The first of a four-part summit series focused on improving energy efficiencies and reducing greenhouse gas emissions at Alberta Friendship Centres kicked off in St. Paul last week.

The Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) Green Building Technologies Tech-Access Centre (GBTAC) and the Alberta Native Friendship Centres Association (ANFCA) have partnered on a multi-year retrofitting project to help create more energy efficient Friendship Centres around the province, and build awareness for climate action in Indigenous communities.

“This series of summits not only aim to bring awareness to the building retrofitting needs, but to create lasting connections between communities, industry and professionals. It’s our hope that these relationships will provide lasting positive impacts beyond the project’s timeline, creating valuable building and retrofitting resources for Centres and the communities they support,” says Melanie Ross, Scientific Strategy Lead, Green Building Technologies, SAIT.

The upcoming summits will take place in May, October and November at the Grande Prairie Friendship Centre, Nistawoyou Association Friendship Centre in Fort McMurray and Miywasin Friendship Centre in Medicine Hat, respectively. These dates will be confirmed within the coming months. Prior to the summits, communities are encouraged to engage with local infrastructure service providers to create lasting relationships beyond the project period, supporting continuous improvement at each of the Centres.

Group photo of attendees at a summit.

“The Alberta Native Friendship Centres Association hopes this summit builds awareness and advocacy through knowledge sharing, community engagement and action towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions. By implementing green building technologies, we hope to improve our relationships with our spaces and places throughout the Friendship Centre movement across Alberta,” says Len Morissette, President, ANFCA.

Three Friendship Centres will be retrofitted to reduce energy consumption and emissions, followed by a year of monitoring to assess the reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions with a combined total target goal of a 20-tonne carbon dioxide equivalent across the updated Centres. Retrofits will be completed at the Mannawanis, Miywasin, and Nistawoyou Friendship Centres. The Grande Prairie Centre completed a detailed energy audit and through the process was able to identify other building retrofit needs to support the Centre’s long-term goals.

The project will deliver further educational, training and engagement events to share knowledge with Friendship Centre teams and community members on green building technologies and methods of reduction for GHG emissions. These initiatives aim to increase project awareness, highlight the value of Friendship Centres and support the needs of the community.

Friendship Centres have offered safe, accessible spaces to Indigenous communities for more than 60 years. This project came together in the spirit of friendship and respect, to improve these important community facilities and amplify the wide range of programs offered — from Elder and youth support to cultural engagement and generational passing of traditional knowledge and skills.

This collaboration is funded by the Climate Action and Awareness Fund through Environment and Climate Change Canada.

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SAIT is located on the traditional territories of the Niitsitapi (Blackfoot) and the people of Treaty 7 which includes the Siksika, the Piikani, the Kainai, the Tsuut’ina and the Îyârhe Nakoda of Bearspaw, Chiniki and Goodstoney.

We are situated in an area the Blackfoot tribes traditionally called Moh’kinsstis, where the Bow River meets the Elbow River. We now call it the city of Calgary, which is also home to the Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3.