Current Catalysts

Alex Cook

Iqaluit

Alex is the owner of ArchTech, a start-up which aims to bring industry professionals together with arctic designers to develop and build affordable, efficient, and resilient residential and commercial spaces across the arctic. His background is in human resources management and he has extensive experience in program and policy development, staffing and recruitment, training and development, performance management, career development planning, and labour relations. He studied at Saint Francis Xavier University where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, with a major in Management and Leadership.

Andy Pirti

Montreal

Andy Pirti currently resides in the Montreal area but was born and raised in a small town called Akulivik, situated in northern Quebec, on the coast of Hudson’s Bay.   

In 1995, he went to Cegep Marie-Victorin, where he took the social science program. For 10 years he had done odd jobs here and there, including working at Avataq Cultural Institute for several years.  In 2005, he began working at Makivik’s construction division as an accounts payable clerk, while taking business administration courses at Vanier College during the evenings.  By 2007, he became Makivik’s investment accountant, responsible for investment portfolio transaction accounting entries. 

Andy worked in the position for four years until he became the advisor to the treasurer in 2011, and he remained there until the treasurer’s term ended.  Makivik’s executives are regionally elected, and when the incumbent decided not to run another term, with encouragement from friends and family, he ran and got elected as treasurer, serving 2 terms over 6 years. During this time, he was responsible for overseeing the investment portfolio of the corporation as well as the subsidiary companies. During his time as the treasurer, the corporation’s equity grew by over 100 million. 

Ashyaliisa McNally 

Bingwi Neyaashi Anishinaabek First Nation 

Aysha has been working for Bingwi Neyaashi Anishinaabek (BNA) First Nation since 2019. Aysha has always been interested in clean energy and has a degree in Honors Bachelor of Environmental Studies with a Geography Major. Aysha is currently the Community Energy Champion/ Coordinator and the Climate Change point person for BNA. Aysha is very excited for this opportunity and eager to learn about more clean energy initiatives and projects from other First Nation communities across the Country. Aysha has experience in writing several project proposals for energy and environmental projects, attended, and presented at several provincial energy and environmental webinars and conferences. Aysha has also helped BNA complete their Community Energy Plan and implement BNA’s successful Biomass Heating System for their sawmill. Aysha is continuing her work to bring clean and innovative energy/ environmental projects within the BNA community including a Biomass District Heating System Study for the homes being built.  

Austin Zacharko 

Metis Nation of Alberta

Austin is a member of the Metis Nation of Alberta and holds his heritage in high regard. He grew up in Alberta and is a registered E.I.T with APEGA. He has completed a B.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Alberta as well as an M.Eng in Sustainable Energy Engineering at Carleton University. With these programs, he has developed a strong understanding of a broad range of topics related to sustainability and climate change. He hopes to use his knowledge to improve the countries efforts to become more sustainable in every aspect (even though Clean Energy is his favourite topic) 

Austin is actively involved in numerous organizations which include being part of Leading Change Canada’s steering committee, Student Energy’s Leaders Fellowship, as well as being on the board of directors for the Foundation for Environmental Stewardship.  

In his free time, Austin enjoys spending time outdoors. This often includes rock climbing, backcountry hiking, multi-day canoe trips, swimming, and snowboarding.  

Chad Bonnetrouge

Dene First Nations

Chad is a member of the Dene First Nation. He was born in Yellowknife and raised in Fort
Providence, Northwest Territories. He did some volunteer work for his community
until he moved to Alberta where he finished secondary school. After graduation he returned home to help with his family, he started working at a local store for the next two and a half years
and was  involved in  community work at that time. After that he got an opportunity with
Northern Loco in the clean energy sector and has been working with them since March. He is
really interested in learning more about how clean energy can benefit his community, and
hopes to gain the knowledge necessary to help ease reliance on diesel fuel and to help
promote greater energy independence in the North.

Clay Polchies

Woodstock First Nation

Clay is currently an engineer-in-training (EIT) in New Brunswick. He is passionate about reducing impact on the environment and making a difference through renewable energy projects. After completing his studies at Carleton University, he wore many hats before getting into clean energy. He has worked at an aircraft manufacturer, helped design and built mission control systems for aircraft and armored vehicles, and worked within other industrial settings. After needing a change, he moved back home to New Brunswick and started his journey in clean energy with NexGen Energy as an electrical apprentice installing solar panels. He also works for his community (Woodstock First Nation) assisting with housing solutions and is currently working on a wastewater project 

Crystal Campbell

Six Nations of the Grand River

Crystal, originally from Brantford, Ontario, is the mother of 2 young girls, and used to own a residential cleaner business for the past 10 years. She applied for the Community Energy Champion with Six Nations of the Grand River, because she wanted to do something different and apply herself toward a career with a purpose. Not knowing exactly what she was getting into she jumped in and so far has loved what she has been learning. Her family has a background of electricians, so to work along the same lines has been very rewarding.  She has always had an interest in a greener way of living, and how we can contribute to conserve and maintain a greener environment. She looks forward to broadening her knowledge in the field and jumping into any upcoming projects.

Daphne Kay

Cowessess First Nation

Daphne is a proud Anishinaabe woman from the Cowessess First Nation, Treaty 4 Territory. Daphne studied Political Science at the University of Regina and Land Management at the University of Saskatchewan. Daphne worked in the Lands and Resources Department of Cowessess First Nation for two years where she was able to work on special projects like Cultural Site Documentation. Recently, Daphne moved to Cowessess Ventures Ltd., the community’s business development organization, as the Community Energy Specialist where she can work on clean energy initiatives.  

Daphne has always been passionate about sustainable living and protecting the land. In her spare time, she likes to read, bead, sew and dance.

Elijah Mecham

Nuxalk Nation

Elijah is a Nuxalk member, born and raised in the Bella Coola Valley in British Columbia. Elijah has experience working in Wind Power and industry, before moving back home to work for his nation. Currently he is the “Clean Energy Community Engagement Coordinator”, and the “Climate Action Coordinator”. As the CEC and CAC his work has led to clean energy and climate change initiatives being progressed for his nation alongside the 20/20 catalyst champion Vince Robinson.  He wants to use this experience to help guide and develop his nations GHG reduction goals, and potentially develop an Energy Engagement Plan.   

Harlan Schilling

Lower Post (Daylu Dena)

Harlan is Kaska and grew up in Lower Post, B,C. He moved back home three years ago after being honorably discharged after seven years of service in the Canadian Forces. Since then he has been working with the economic development corporation and was elected Chief in late June.

He and his partner have a one-year old daughter, and would like his child to grow up in a clean and healthy environment in order to learn and practice traditional ways of living. With a young new family, he believes it is imperative to continue to take care of the environment and traditional values. Harlan enjoys spending time out on the land and river, hunting and fishing and his hope is that opportunities like the 20/20 Catalysts Program will ensure that our people will continue to do so.

Holly Johnson

Haida Gwaii

Holly is employed by Skidegate Band Council on Haida Gwaii as a Climate Action Coordinator. Holly’s focus is planning, and coordination of energy and climate activities and deliverables associated with capacity building, clean energy, demand side management and community engagement. She is very enthusiastic about learning about new renewable technologies and is passionate about energy and doing her part to preserve the environment for future generations. During her spare time, Holly is out exploring the beautiful environment on Haida Gwaii and loves photography. 

Jacob Jadis

Abegweit First Nation

Jacob is proud father and member of the Mi’kmaq First Nation.  He grew up in and currently resides in the community of Scotchfort, Abegweit First Nation on Prince Edward Island. Jacob graduated with a Diploma in Information Systems Management from Nova Scotia Institute of Technology in 2003. A few years of working in this area, fueled his ambition to become an entrepreneur. He was the sole proprietor of an IT supply business for 12 years, and then accepted an operator/management position with the Abegweit First Nation where he has worked since 2012. There he was tasked with a large project to upgrade/replace an outdated water system with modern infrastructure technologies. With this experience, Jacob’s ambition was fueled again to bring more positive infrastructure projects to his community; to develop a plan to harness new clean energy technologies and build capacity and resources for Abegweit First Nation.  Jacob is excited to be part of the 2020 Catalyst cohort, to be part of a team and to gain new knowledge to support his community with new energy initiatives.

Janice Grey

Aupaluk, QC

Janice Grey is the Communications and Community Engagement Manager of Tarquti Energy Corporation, a clean energy developer from the Nunavik Region of Northern Quebec. She was one of the first two Nunavimmiut to study in the Nunavut Sikuniksavut Program in Ottawa, which steered her into a decade long career in regional and municipal politics. She has just come out of her 2nd term as Deputy Mayor of her home village, Aupaluk on the Ungava Coast. In addition to that, she has also been heavily involved in the regional Cooperative movement even since her childhood. Despite her allergy, Janice and her partner are the proud owners of three large and doofy huskies, Loki, Brownie and Jory. In her free time, she enjoys beading and writing short stories when seasonal hunting and gathering are not available, otherwise you can find her in the tidal flats picking mussels and seaweed to share with elders and family.

Jason Etuangat

Pangnirtung, Nunavut

Jason Etuangat was born and raised in Pangnirtung, Nunavut. This past year, he decided to move to Iqaluit, Nunavut for a federal job training program with the Inuit Learning and Development. During my time with the program, he was able to experience life in Cambridge Bay. He eventually got a job with Polar Knowledge Canada and now lives in Cambridge Bay full-time. He works as a Science Ranger (Jr. Technician) for two teams: science & technology and clean energy and infrastructure. What he most enjoys about his position is field work and the testing and operating of the clean energy equipment in the high Arctic. Jason is hoping to learn more about some of the clean energy technologies that are being used in the real world and push towards testing them in the high Arctic to demonstrate their feasibility in Nunavut. He also hopes to take more a hands on contributions to community energy planning in the future. 

Leighton Gall 

Métis Nation of British Columbia

Leighton Gall is a Métis entrepreneur and Master of Global Management student at Royal Roads University. He is also pursuing dual master’s credits in the Science and Policy of Climate Change program. His past experiences include working in Canada’s oil & gas sector and Nicaragua and Japan on geothermal drilling projects. Additionally, Mr. Gall is an accomplished startup founder in the cannabis and tattooing industries. When not reading and researching you can find him travelling on his eBike with his Jack Russell Terrier or at home playing music.  

Penny Polchies

St. Mary’s First Nation

Millicent (Penny) Polchies is the Economic Development Manager with the Joint Economic Development Initiative (JEDI).  In this role, Penny leads a team providing all aspects of Indigenous economic development and sustainability; they also build supports within the realm of Indigenous entrepreneurship.  A big believer in sustainable Indigenous economies, Penny supports communities who strive for success.

Penny has spent 25 years in Indigenous economic and labour market initiatives; where she created a provincial network of employment and training officers (ETOs) and facilitated the creation and implementation of their career practitioner certification and training. This was done in partnership with the Canadian Career Development Foundation (CCDF) and resulted in one of the largest Indigenous groups in Canada, becoming certified ETOs.

Indigenous inclusion is very important to Penny.  She is a strong advocate for inclusion in the work place and equal opportunity for business development.  Penny brings awareness to the systematic barriers that the Indigenous population faces; and in support of this, led JEDI to the creation of JEDI’s Indigenous Reconciliation Awareness Module, focusing on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action #92.

Sean Brennan

Haida Nation

Sean is the Energy Coordinator in Old Masset on Haida Gwaii. From the Ts’aahlLaanaas Eagle Clan, Sean has been working towards Haida sovereignty his whole career. Coming from a forestry background Sean has contributed to writing the Haida Gwaii Land Use Plan, helped develop Cultural Feature Identification programs for industry, worked directly with government and industry proponents to ensure Haida free prior informed consent through a forum called the Solutions Table. A proud father of three, Sean loves fishing and food gathering in and around Haida Gwaii. Sean is excited to see the next era in renewable energy production on Haida Gwaii and a separation from the Islands current diesel reliance.  

Steven Crowchild

Tsuut’ina Nation

Steven Crowchild (Ninagha Naʔitsidi) is a Tsuut’ina Isgiya, father, and elected member of the Tsuut’ina Nation Chief and Council. Steven holds the Governance and Administration Portfolio and sits on the Education Board. Prior to being elected to council in November 2019, Steven worked in the areas of Tsuut’ina language and culture revitalization and education and has been directly involved in the development and piloting of various initiatives and projects such as app development, curriculum development, culture camps, language nest, mentor-apprentice initiative, animation, language/culture film projects, professional development initiatives, recording projects, and so much more.

Steven is passionate about being a good ancestor and works to create a sustainable future by advocating for the transition towards more clean, sustainable, and renewable energy use within Tsuut’ina and abroad. Steven is also a huge advocate for food sovereignty initiatives, language and culture revitalization initiatives, sustainable development, treaty rights, and other areas. Steven carries with him a deep sense of love and responsibility to the land, water, his Tsuut’ina people and future generations.

Taylor Behn-Tsakoza

Fort Nelson First Nation

Taylor Behn-Tsakoza is a proud Dene woman from the Fort Nelson First Nation, BC Treaty 8 Territory. Born and raised in her community, Taylor returned home the day after her last exam of her Health and Physical Education degree to work towards her vision of making her community a better place to live for everyone. Coming from a health and recreation background and years of experience working with Inidgenous youth on and off-reserve, clean energy is a new but exciting field that Taylor is honoured to be working in. She is currently the Community Liaison and Research Coordinator for her Nations Tu Deh-Kah Geothermal project. Repurposing the Clarke Lake gas field into a sustainable, geothermal project has potential to revolutionize the north and bring food and energy security to her Nation.  

Embracing her role as a youth has allowed Taylor to advise and speak to issues that affect Indigenous youth at every level of government and society. Taylor’s biggest honour is co-chairing the Assembly of First Nations National Youth Council. Building up other young people to be leaders in their communities and beyond is the most meaningful work she has done. Other interests of hers are life promotion, treaty rights and land-based wellness. 

Una Gott

Sandy Lake First Nation

Una is a single mother of two very special boys. She’s worked very hard to get where she is in life because of them. She has graduated from Confederation College in 2015 studying Police Foundations. She is a firm believer of leaving the world a better place for the children. Children, are the future. She currently lives in her hometown of Sandy Lake and proud to represent that. She has been working as the Community Energy Adviser since December 2015 and will be hitting the 5 year mark. She truly enjoys what she does, loves working towards a goal, and she loves entire process of the learning journey. 

Wesley Lines

Yellowknives Dene First Nation

Wesley Lines is a member of Yellowknives Dene First Nation and grew up in Ndilǫ, Northwest Territories. He is an Electrical Engineer working at BC Hydro. Wesley holds a master’s degree in Clean Energy Engineering from the University of British Columbia and is a Certified Energy Manager. 

He’s very passionate about developing clean energy projects to offset diesel consumption in off-grid communities. He believes these projects can greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce the likelihood of environmental spills, reduce energy costs, and bring economic prosperity to Indigenous Nations. He is keenly interested in the technical and economic modeling of integrating high penetration renewables with battery storage in diesel microgrids.