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Alberta

Where Iron and Earth Meet – Oil & Gas Workers for Renewable Energy

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Iron and Earth is a Canadian non-profit organization led by oilsands workers who advocate for a balanced approach towards a green energy transition. The organization was founded in 2015 during the economic crisis that led to the termination of thousands of oil and gas workers nationwide. It began as a collective of boots-on-the-ground employees who had experienced the hard times brought on by the boom-bust nature of the oil and gas industry, and wanted to be a part of the movement to diversify and build resilience in Canada.

According to the Iron and Earth mission statement, Where Iron and Earth Meet, “There’s a place for the oilsands, and there’s a place for renewable energy. The intention is not to shut down the oilsands, but to see they are managed more sustainably while developing our renewable energy resources more ambitiously.” 

Dialogues surrounding sustainability and diversification often place renewable energy alternatives at odds with the oil and gas industry, with little room for productive discussion. Iron and Earth provides a platform for oilsands workers, business owners, non-profits, politicians and consumers to meet at the same table and collaborate effectively to build a more sustainable future for all Canadians. Rather than contribute to divisive narratives that position oil and gas and renewable energy as mutually exclusive industries, Iron and Earth advocates for a balanced approach towards diversification, sustainability and a renewable transition.

“Iron and Earth is proof of the dichotomy of people working in the oil and gas industry who care about the environment very, very much,” says Bruce Wilson, board member for Iron and Earth. “There is a diverse array of political affiliations and backgrounds within the organization, from individuals presently working in oil and gas to those who have recently transitioned, to those who have never worked in the industry at all.” Wilson joined Iron and Earth in 2018 after more than 30 years in the oil and gas industry, including 17 years with Shell International. 

By focusing on industry overlaps, Iron and Earth highlights the ways in which fossil fuels and renewable energy can be beneficial, reinforcing sectors that can produce positive outcomes for the Canadian workforce and the global climate crisis. “Fortunately for many of the workers who are affected by the ongoing boom and bust cycles of the oilsands, many renewable energy jobs require the same skills and tradespeople that are currently working in the Canadian oil and gas industry” (1).

Iron and Earth streamlines the transfer of skills between industries by offering a number of programs and resources to support workers seeking to transition away from fossil fuels into renewable energy.  This includes offering training, classroom education, and hands-on experience to broaden the understanding of industry overlaps that will aid oil and gas workers in finding their fit in clean technology.

These processes and resources operate with respect to the reality that transitions away from oil and gas into renewables can be a daunting and difficult process for many. Former Canadian oil and gas worker and current Iron and Earth spokesperson, Nick Kendrick, came to Iron and Earth in 2018 after reaching a fork in the road in his own career path. After 5 years in oil and gas, Kendrick was faced with the employment insecurity many workers in the Canadian oil and gas industry are familiar with. “When I started in oil and gas, prices were booming,” he says, “but by the time I got up north, the industry was struggling. People were getting laid off, and I realized it might be time to make a move.” 

Kendrick made the decision to return to school at the University of Calgary, where he pursued a Master’s Degree in Sustainable Energy. It was there he connected with Iron and Earth for his capstone project, where he facilitated the drafting of a strategic path forward for the organization. This included mapping out geographic locations that offered the most opportunity to deliver impactful training workshops and support upcoming renewable energy projects, as well as encourage Indigenous participation.
“Leaving oil and gas for renewables is a very scary thing, especially in Alberta,” says Kendrick, “I admire how Iron and Earth’s approach is not to completely abandon the oilsands. They’ve been very foundational for Canada, but they’re not sustainable. It’s time to help each other progress onto something new.”

In September 2020, Iron and Earth unveiled their Prosperous Transition Plan, framing the future for Canada’s green transition. The Prosperous Transition Plan boldly calls on the Trudeau Government to invest $110 billion over the next decade into a green recovery for Canada. The plan highlights four focal points of the Canadian economy: workforce, business, infrastructure and environment. With an emphasis on repurposing oil and gas infrastructure and getting people back to work, Iron and Earth’s Prosperous Transition Plan focuses on recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, decarbonizing the economy and addressing inequality to ensure a prosperous future. 

With more than 1000 active members across Canada from a variety of industrial trades, Iron and Earth is continually expanding and advocating for ethical, legitimate solutions to facilitate Canada’s transition to renewable energy. “These are not utopian suggestions,” says Wilson, “they are pragmatic solutions that require purposeful, ambitious action from the government … Change and thrive is the business model for the future.”

To learn more about Iron and Earth’s mission and Prosperous Transition Plan, visit https://www.ironandearth.org

For more stories, visit Todayville Calgary.

Alberta

Edmonton triples venture capital investment in 2023

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Alberta’s tech sector continues its strong momentum, with Edmonton seeing its strongest growth ever, proof Alberta remains a hot tech market.

As global and national investment have declined, Alberta has remained a strong tech market and is showing continued leadership, as shown by Pitchbook ranking Calgary as the 12th fastest-growing tech ecosystem in the world and LinkedIn ranking Calgary as one of the best places to hire and recruit tech workers.

At the end of 2023, Alberta’s five-year growth rate for venture capital dollars invested reached an impressive 48.5 per cent, more than triple Canada’s compounded average growth rate of 13 per cent, according to the 2023 Canadian Venture Capital Private Equity Association fourth-quarter report.

The province’s growth rate means Alberta finished 2023 with $707 million invested over 86 deals, in line with Alberta’s 2022 record-breaking year. In contrast, Canada ended the year with a 31 per cent decline in investments. Over the past five years, Alberta technology companies have secured more than $2.7 billion in venture capital funding across 350 deals, creating thousands of jobs for Albertans.

“While Canada as a whole saw massive declines, Alberta has held steady. We are a major venture capital player in Canada, as technology drives growth across all sectors.”

Nate Glubish, Minister of Technology and Innovation

Alberta’s two largest cities continued to attract investment dollars in 2023, with Calgary and Edmonton coming in fourth and fifth respectively for number of deals, with $501 million invested in 64 deals in Calgary and $188 million invested in 21 deals in Edmonton. Edmonton saw a 324 per cent increase from $58 million in 2022 to $188 million in 2023. In total, Alberta captured 10.3 per cent of dollars invested in 2023 and 13 per cent of venture capital deals in Canada.

“Edmonton’s tripling of venture capital investment in 2023 underscores our city’s position as a dynamic tech capital within Alberta’s thriving innovation ecosystem, reaffirming our role as a powerhouse driving technological advancement and economic prosperity across diverse sectors. It is the local innovators’ relentless pursuit of solutions to real-world problems, with the continuing support of the Government of Alberta, which not only attracts significant investment but also propels our city to the forefront of Alberta’s tech revolution and fosters job creation for our community.”

Launa Aspeslet, interim chief executive officer, Edmonton Unlimited

“At Platform Calgary we are working with our partners to continue this momentum by linking up high potential tech startups with the investors that can help them take their businesses to the next level. The evidence is clear, Alberta is emerging as one of the most exciting and resilient tech ecosystems in the world. Together with our growing tech community, we can secure Alberta’s position as the best place in the world for anyone to launch and grow a tech business.”

Terry Rock, president and chief executive officer, Platform Calgary 

Alberta remains a growing market for the technology and innovation sector, and Alberta’s government celebrates its steady contribution to the Alberta economy, including in the fourth quarter of 2023. The end of last year saw venture capital investments in the province increase by 35 per cent for dollars invested and 19 per cent for deals closed compared with the third quarter. There were 25 deals closed valued at a combined $173 million in the fourth quarter of 2023.

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Alberta

Shining a spotlight on Alberta athletes, sport leaders

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Alberta’s government is continuing to support the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame, so it can showcase the province’s sport legacy for years to come.

The Alberta Sports Hall of Fame celebrates the accomplishments of more than 1,600 Albertans, from Olympic gold medallists to community sport leaders. To continue supporting this long-standing legacy, the government is providing $302,500 to the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame Museum. This funding will support the operations of the facility and the organization’s management and delivery of the annual Alberta Sport Recognition Awards.

“Alberta’s future is stronger when we understand and preserve our history and celebrate our successes. Places like the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame help us do just that. I’m proud our government is supporting it, as it spotlights Albertans with incredible athletic achievements and community contributions.”

Joseph Schow, Minister of Tourism and Sport

“The Alberta Sports Hall of Fame has long been a cherished attraction in our community, offering Albertans inspiration and a window into the remarkable legacy of our athletes and community sport leaders. With our government’s investment in this institution, Red Deer’s tourism will undoubtedly grow, bringing significant benefits to our community and surrounding areas.”

Adriana LaGrange, MLA for Red Deer-North

“I am pleased to see the government’s support for the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame continue. This organization enriches the sport community in central Alberta, inspires the next generation of athletes and preserves our province’s history in sport excellence.”

Jason Stephan, MLA for Red Deer-South

The Hall of Fame provides a space where the accomplishments of the sport community in Alberta are preserved and inspires the province’s future athletes and community leaders. Albertans recognized in the Hall of Fame include Melody Davidson, who was inducted in 2008 for her excellence in hockey, serving as a two-time Olympic gold medal-winning head coach for Team Canada women’s hockey, and Lanny McDonald, who was inducted in 1993 following a long and successful career in professional hockey. Last year, 12 inductees were nominated, including Patrick Jarvis and Theresa Maxwell for their success in Paralympics and volleyball.

This funding will ensure that Albertans can continue to celebrate the province’s turning-point moments and growing legacy in sport.

“We are grateful for the support we have received from the Alberta government. Their funding has played a pivotal role in sustaining the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame, allowing us to preserve and celebrate the rich sporting history of our province. This support not only enhances our ability to showcase the achievements of the athletes, teams and sport champions but also reinforces the significant role sport plays in our community.”

Dale Henwood, chair, Alberta Sports Hall of Fame

“Red Deer proudly stands as a hub for sports excellence, and the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame plays a pivotal role in preserving and promoting our province’s rich athletic legacy. The City of Red Deer is grateful for the Alberta government’s continued support, ensuring that this institution continues to inspire future generations by showcasing the remarkable achievements of our athletes and community leaders.”

Ken Johnston, mayor, City of Red Deer

The Alberta Sports Hall of Fame helps grow tourism in Red Deer and the surrounding area by attracting visitors to the facility to enjoy interactive sport-oriented games and activities and sport memorabilia. In the past two years, an estimated 20,000 people have visited the Hall of Fame annually. Exhibits on different sports and sport organizations, including the Hall of Fame Gallery that showcases the athletes and sport builders who have been inducted annually since 1957, are also available to view.

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