In Our Power

In Our Power is a series of stories produced by the Ecology Action Centre of ordinary people and diverse communities in Atlantic Canada working to create a just transition to a green economy. The people in these stories — artists, students, businesspeople, civil servants, activists, people in faith communities and more — have not shied away from the realities of climate change. Instead, they are stepping up to change how we get our energy, and reduce how much we need, while maintaining a world in which people can thrive. We hope you enjoy learning from these communities as they work to switch to renewable and more efficient energy sources — and ensure their communities are strong and resilient.

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Recent posts

Walking Together

Elder Albert Marshall Launches Book Introducing Two-Eyed Seeing to Children | May 25, 2023

Elder Albert Marshall from Eskasoni First Nation, who is a leading environmental voice in Unama’ki Cape Breton, has co-written with Louise Zimanyi a new children’s book. It is called Walking Together and presents in poetic sentences and gorgeous illustrations (by Anishnaabe artist Emily Kewageshig) a piece of visual storytelling, showing young readers the notion of Two-Eyed Seeing.

Elder Marshall was the first to apply this concept, from the teachings of Chief Charles Labrador (1932-2002) of Acadia First Nation, in a Western setting. Two-Eyed seeing is the powerful and reconciliatory idea that we can better understand, and care for the world, if we can see with the strengths of Indigenous knowledges and ways of knowing and from Western knowledges and ways of knowing.  

In this interview with Chris Benjamin of the Ecology Action Centre (co-published by Atlantic Books Today), Elder Marshall explains why, at 83 years old and after decades of work toward a strong vision for the future, he decided to write a children’s book.  

Read Albert Marshall's Interview | May 25

Chris Benjamin: This book is poetic, beautiful and powerful. Can you tell me a bit about how it came to be? 

Elder Albert Marshall: Apparently this is the reason why it was written: How much Aboriginal students have been disconnected from nature. How much we are connected with nature. How much we are dependent on nature. Without that connection, you can’t feel something for it.  

Hopefully this book will make that connection at a younger age. We have a lot of land-based training in the curriculum; this will be an introduction. Showing not just appreciation, respect, but protection of nature. Looking at the current state of our environment, in which cleansing capacity has been exhausted. Nature needs humans now for some form of intervention, using science to mitigate the damage. 

At that tender age, how young Aboriginal people learn, you’re much more interested in visuals rather than text. The book has limited text. That allows for visual storytelling. Children are great at extracting story from visuals. And Aboriginal people tend to be visual learners. 

I hope this will trigger something in them. 

Benjamin: Can you talk a bit about Two-Eyed Seeing and this book for children? 

Elder Marshall: The reason the phrase Two-Eyed Seeing was coined is that every creature has two eyes. I see everything from an Aboriginal lens. My culture and customs. With that perception, I know I was never meant to be alone. Two-Eyed Seeing enriches perspective. Now I have another perspective. This is a much more whole-istic way—whole as in w-h-o-l-e.  

One eye limits what we see. Geographically, wherever we may be, we may become intimately connected with the environment. But it’s a global issue. The more connected we become, the better chance we have.  

Benjamin: Ecology Action Centre has been working with Faith and the Common Good, connecting people from different faiths who want to act to protect the environment. People often seem motived by their sense of spiritual love, or even obligation. It seems the ways Indigenous people experience spirituality can be quite different from settlers. Do you have any thoughts on how spirituality relates to Two-Eyed Seeing? 

Elder Marshall: As a Mi’kmaq person, before I feel completely well, my physical, cognitive, emotional, and spiritual realms all must be well. The spiritual connection has to be there.  

If you are not fulfilling your inherent responsibilities, Great Creator gave us a cognitive mind. If we compromise ecological integrity, we can use the cognitive mind to repair it. We solely depend on Her. Our efforts should benefit all. If she’s not healthy, how can we be?  
Netukulimk, in Mi’kmaw. Sustainability. We have the privilege to use gifts of Creator. We don’t have the right to compromise the ecological integrity of the area. We cannot compromise the Earth’s cleansing capacity.  

Benjamin: Walking Together emphasizes the importance of stories. I’ve always liked Leslie Marmon Silko’s statement that stories are “all we have to fight off illness and death.” And I feel that’s true. But in this book you’re showing stories aren’t only a defence mechanism, that through them we “receive gifts of Mother Earth.” Can you talk about those gifts? Stories

Elder Marshall: Bedtime stories Aboriginal children used to hear, in all of those stories, there was never a human form in it. They were always based on other lifeforms. A squirrel or a rabbit or some other creature.  

How much we are interconnected. Everything and anything we are involved with comes from the story.  

If the story is told enough times, it becomes reality. It should guide us to our responsibilities.  

I have to bear in mind, this generation and the next seven must benefit from my efforts. It is time to put our differences aside and start another narrative. Of hope. In which no one is allowed to start a project that damages ecological integrity.  

Benjamin: I love the line in the book, “Sing the Lands and Waters awake after a deep rest.” That spirit of renewal seems really important right now as people become worried about the future of humanity on earth. Does Two-Eyed Seeing also offer us a means of having hope in protecting the nonhuman world? (And therefore humans too?) 

Elder Marshall: It should become a fundamental principle of how we go through life while here. Actions must be in harmony with nature. Any project not ecologically sustainable, we must come up with an alternative.  

Benjamin: A lot of planning right now, by governments, has to do with technological change. And I do think that matters, but what do you think they can learn about “the languages of the Land.” 

Elder Marshall: I don’t believe the government is very much interested in preserving the environment for the future. The onus is on the people to tell them from here on in, we cannot continue with business as usual.   

Benjamin: I so appreciate the reverence in the book. The words are poetic but it’s a very straightforward, teaching kind of poetic. And the artwork is stunning. Have you given much thought to the role of creativity and art in storytelling, in helping humans better care for the Earth? 

Elder Marshall: The more you know about something … somehow it will connect us to this notion of compassion, responsibility, respect, the seeds of knowledge will be planted with as many people as possible, and there is hope.  

“Nature has rights, humans have responsibilities.” Always be mindful and cognizant, every action you take must be sustainable.  

Benjamin: Wela’lin. 

Shift to Electric School Buses

Time for Electric School Buses | May 8, 2023

On April 27th, we celebrated Healthy Environments for Learning Day (HELD) by promoting the transition from diesel-powered to electric school buses across Canada. We're excited to share our latest video showcasing the positive experience of a bus driver and school kids riding an Electric School Bus in New Brunswick! Not only does it provide a sustainable mode of transportation, but it also brings joy and excitement to the kids who ride it.


Jayne Loves Her Electric School Bus | May 08, 2023

We love this video about New Brunswick's first Electric School Bus driver, the pride she and her passengers take in being part of the green energy transition, its clean quietness.

But, unlike New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia currently has no electric school buses on the roads! You can help change this by joining our campaign for Electric School Buses in Nova Scotia, to create a cleaner, healthier future for our kids.  

the hall of a church with heat pumps on the walls

How Centennial United in Robert's Arm, NL Reduced Its Carbon Footprint | April 19, 2023

Contributed by Lloyd Colbourne, Chairperson, Board of Management

Windsor United Church is a small congregation in Roberts Arm, in the northern part of Newfoundland  NL. They felt the call to modernize their fuel source and stop burning fossil fuels. But the price tag of about $26,000 for the four heat pumps needed for the space was intimidating. Undeterred, they put their talents to work and raised a third of the money, with the Faithful Footprints program supplying the rest. Here, in his own words, Lloyd Colbourne, Chairperson of the Board of Management for Centennial United, tells the story of how his church made a green transition.  


Centennial United Decarbonizes | April 18, 2023

In 2022, the board of management of Centennial United Church in Roberts Arm, Newfoundland and Labrador, discussed how we could reduce our carbon footprint and do our part in saving our planet from climate change disasters. The obvious choice was to stop burning fossil fuel as our heat source and switch to clean electric source by using efficient heat pumps.  

We then discussed how we could accomplish this process and have a warm comfortable building for our church congregation during weekly services and business meetings which were held in the church hall in the basement of the church. It was decided that heat pumps would be the solution to accomplish our goal.  

a person wearing a blue flannel shirt and navy blue pants installs an air conditioner on the side of a building

The next challenge was to get an expert to recommend the number of heat pumps required to heat the building, and estimate the cost of buying and installing them. After doing our research, we learned the most suitable heat pumps for our needs were the Mitsubishi brand. They were a moderately expensive brand but carried a ten-year warranty, and had great reviews.

We consulted experts in selling and installing this brand to give us a quote on the required number to satisfy our heating requirements. They recommended four heat pumps, 18,000 BTUs—three upstairs and one in the church hall, in the basement, at a total cost of $26,841.  

Where could we get this vast amount of money with such a small congregation? We decided to have a Memorial Hymn Sing on the third Sunday in June, which was Father’s Day, to see how well our congregation, their family and friends would support our plan. We were astonished with the response, which was a very important lesson learned. “You never know what you can accomplish unless you try.”  

We raised $8,300, which was a third of the cost. Where could we get the other two-thirds?  

Our minister suggested we contact Faithful Footprints, which gave a grant to his former church in New Brunswick. I made an internet inquiry, followed by a telephone conversation, lasting more than an hour, with Stephen Collette, the building audit manager for Faith and Common Good, which administrates the Faithful Footprints program. He gave me a very positive response and encouraged us to make an application. The final steps were to gather the information required for the application, fill out the forms online, and click send.  

a person installs a heat pump on a brown wall

A short time later we received the astounding news that our application was approved. We ordered the heat pumps and in three weeks they were installed, on April 3, 2023. The heat pumps were dedicated on Earth Sunday, April 16, to let all our supporters know we have accomplished our goal of reducing our carbon footprint, to help the greening of the earth.  

We will use the remaining funds to install LED light bulbs in all light fixtures in the church, new door seals to prevent heat loss, and purchase insulation for the attic, as well as removing and disposing of the old oil furnace.  

the exterior of a church beside a road

Windsor United Kicks the Oil Habit | April 6, 2023

Windsor United Church in Windsor, Nova Scotia is a late-Victorian beauty. Congregants and visitors can gaze upward over ornate wooden walls, 50 feet to the ceiling above. With a 5,600-square-foot sanctuary and a 2,600-square-foot annex and office space, it's also a beast. Last year, the congregation paid $18,000 in heating oil and $8,700 for electricity. But with funding from Faithful Footprints and Efficiency Nova Scotia, Windsor United has made the transition--oil is now a rarely-used backup, only for the coldest days. 


How Windsor United is Kicking the Oil Habit | April 6, 2023

Tony Duke, who is on the property committee of Windsor United, recalls a moment when it hit them all, just how much oil they were saving. "One of our property members, " he says, "was there when the oil truck pulled up. The guy puts the nozzle in the pipe, flicks it on. Stops. 

"He pulls it out, looks down, sticks it back in. Did it all again. And finally he said to our member, 'I haven't been able to put any oil in for the last two visits.' 

"And we had been nervous about heat pumps being able to keep up with winter." 

Admittedly, it's been a mild winter in Nova Scotia. Windsor United uses their heat pumps except on days below -8 degrees Celsius, which has been a rarity. But they were able to replace one furnace and use the other only for backup. 

As is the case with any good energy retrofit, it's not just the source energy. One of the buildings biggest challenges was insulation, foam that had been installed in the 1970s--fifty years ago. It has since dissolved into a powder, Duke says. "So no insulation." 

The formaldehyde foam used to insulate the attic in the 1970s had deteriorated to a powder that the team had to vacuum out before they had the sanctuary ceilings insulated with high density foam. Then, in 2023, they insulated all the exterior walls and the ceiling over the annex with high density cellulose.

The property committee--six people at the time, most of them in their seventies--was dedicated. Each day two or three would show up and help with the work, leading insulators up into the attic, crawling over ancient wooden beams. "I really admire the insulators for hauling hose up there to blow it in," Duke says.

unloading insulationThe price associated with buying and installing enough heat pumps for the space was a larger deterrent, but the church trustees were also committed to the cause. One had installed solar panels on his own house and felt compelled to reduce impact on the environment. But Duke credits funding from Faithful Footprints, a funding program from the United Church Canada aimed at reducing the Church's carbon footprint 80 percent by 2030, and small-business rebates from Efficiency Nova Scotia, for swinging the balance. In all, the church invested $111,000 in energy retrofits. The majority, $69,000, was covered by the two programs. 

The heat pumps have not only been sufficient for the winter, they've created a more comfortable climate in the office--where it used to get far too warm--and in meetings rooms and an assembly room. "Everybody has been amazed with the heat pumps," Duke says. "We're keeping them at a steady, comfortable temperature. Everyone is very pleased."

heat pump in meeting roomThe next step is to replace all the lighting with LEDs, which will further improve efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For Duke, the greatest reward is knowing their impact on the climate has been reduced. That's important for such a pillar of the community.

"The value is sustainability," he says, for the church and the planet. "We do a lot of outreach in community. We help the food bank. We do community activities like theatrical productions. Schools have concerts. A local AA group meets here. We’re not going to close the church."  

Now, he hopes they can inspire other congregations. Windsor United is holding an open house on Earth Day, April 22, from 9:00-11:30 a.m. It is part of the national Faithful Footprints Retrofit Tours Earth Week Series.

"We want to bring congregations in surrounding communities in, and give them some positive reasons for going green.  I strongly encourage other churches to take advantage of FF and other programs to reduce or even eliminate their carbon footprints."

people making home improvements

Culture of Efficiency Newsletter | March 27, 2023

The Ecology Action Centre publishes the Culture of Efficiency Newsletter on a monthly basis to keep subscribers up to date on energy efficiency news and events in Nova Scotia. This work intends to build community and provide Nova Scotians with information and opportunities they need to stay involved in energy efficiency movement. Subscribe here!


Culture of Efficiency Newsletter | March 27, 2023

Efficiency Nova Scotia Spring Rebate Campaign

Investing in a larger appliance for your home? From March 31 to May 20, 2023 Efficiency Nova Scotia is running their Spring Instant Savings Campaign. During this time, additional products will be added to a list of instant in-store product rebates that you can access automatically when you visit a participating location. You can save up to $400 at the checkout and collect savings over time with your energy efficient upgrades. Find rebates near you!

Better Building Speaker Series

Join EAC and three organizations collaborating to build the new Mi'kmaq Centre for Healing and Resilience which will be run by the Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Women’s Association. Young Soaring Eagle, Outside! Landscape Architects and Solterre Design will discuss how the Resilience Centre prioritizes intersectional sustainability to build a safe space for the community. The webinar will be held on May 30 from 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Register now!

Tell your MP to Take a Stand for Energy Poverty

The 2023 Federal Budget will be released next week on March 28 in the House of Commons.  We don't know what to expect, but we hope the budget will include the government's plan to invest in and implement a low-income energy efficiency strategy that will extend support to the millions of Canadians who are currently excluded from home energy efficiency programs and who are struggling to meet their home energy needs.  Although the budget is largely crafted at this stage, you can still encourage your MP to take a stand for energy poverty when it is tabled on the 28th.   There is likely still more work to be done to ensure that energy efficiency reaches and benefits all Canadians.  Email your MP now!

Heating Assistance Rebate Program

The Heating Assistance Rebate Program is now open to help low-and moderate-income Nova Scotians with the cost of home heating. Rebates are $1,000 (instead of $100 to $200) for qualified households. Eligibility criteria and certain supporting documents are needed. It should take around 8 weeks to get your rebate. There is no cost to apply for the rebate, you can apply online until March 31, 2023. Check your eligibility.

EV Charging Rebates for Multi-Unit Residential Buildings

Apartment or condo owners can apply for one of two rebates that make electric vehicle chargers more accessible. 

  • The EV Ready Approach  

  • The Standalone EV Charger  

Both rebates are an option for new construction and existing buildings. Learn more about the rebates and how to apply by visiting Efficiency Nova Scotia's website. Learn more about the rebate!

Open Letter to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Citizens for Public Justice has an open letter to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and are looking for signatories from the faith community.  

  • The political asks of the letter include 

  • Increasing Canada's greenhouse gas reductions target 

  • Support for climate adaptation 

  • Please sign the letter today and invite others to as well. 

  • Creating a national strategy on Environmental Racism and Environmental Justice (Bill C-226) 

  • Improving Canadian corporate accountability internationally, particularly on resource extraction issues (Bill C-262 and C-263) 

Sign the letter here.

LinkedIn Group for Newcomers

A new LinkedIn group has been created to help Newcomers looking to work in the green jobs sector! The group is intended to help newcomers connect and support one-another with career development. Follow the link below to join! Go to LinkedIn and join.

New Ice Project Accelerator

Indigenous Clean Energy (ICE) recently announced the launch of the Bringing It Home Project Accelerator! The Project Accelerator is a new program designed to support the start-up and development of Indigenous energy efficiency housing projects. Applications are open from March 8, to May 19, 2023. Apply today to become a Project Steward! Learn more and apply.

two men, facing away from the camera, install a heat pump

WATCH: Energy efficiency in Millbrook First Nation | March 20, 2023

In February 2023 the Ecology Action Centre's Energy & Climate Team visited Millbrook First Nation to meet with local experts and community members and talk about energy efficiency in the home. Watch this video for information about how to access rebates for new technology and how to maintain equipment for maximum performance and to save money.

WATCH: Energy efficiency in Millbrook First Nation | March 20, 2023

Please watch this video for information about how to access rebates for new technology like heat pumps, HVAC systems and light sensors and timers, and how to maintain equipment for maximum performance and to save money. Thank you to the Millbrook First Nation Housing Department for hosting the event and to our partners: Efficiency Nova Scotia, the Union of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq and the Confederacy of Mainland Mi'kmaq.  

the exterior of a white church

WATCH: Decarbonization efforts by the United Church of Canada faith communities in Atlantic Canada | March 14, 2023

Created by the Regional Climate Justice Group of the United Church, this video looks at the efforts of congregations in Central Labrador and Nova Scotia to reduce their carbon footprint through energy efficiency initiatives, supporting a just transition and including environmental stewardship as part of everyday spiritual practice.

Supported by:

logo of Faith & the Common Good
Efficiency Nova Scotia logo