Panel of power players

Whether Canadians like it or not, Canada is a land teeming with natural resources that are needed by the rest of the world.  

So says Jacob Irving, the president of the Canadian Hydropower Association. Irving was part of a power panel of energy experts that spoke at the Classroom Energy Diet Challenge’s Summer Institute. The institute, held July 17-19, brought together 10 exceptional teachers that participated in last year’s Classroom Energy Diet Challenge to share ideas and provide opportunities to delve deeper into the importance of energy in Canada. (Read a blog on the summer institute here.)

The chance to meet some of Canada’s energy leaders was inspirational, says Curtis Wagner, a workshop participant and an elementary school teacher from Saskatoon, Sask. For Wagner and the nine other teachers at the institute, hearing energy leaders speak candidly about the issues facing their industries, and the benefits and risks to Canadians, was a rare opportunity. 

“To come back with all this new knowledge that I can bring to my classroom is great,” Wagner says.

Comprised of Janet Annesley from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, Tom Levy from Canadian Wind Energy Association and Jon Stewart from the Canadian Nuclear Association and Jaconb Irving, the panel was led by Canadian Geographic Editor Aaron Kylie, and the discussion ranged from the importance of energy literacy to how leaders in the energy industry need to improve communication.

The panelists said that Canadians need to be more energy literate — that is, they need to understand how different types of energy are produced, and the benefits and drawbacks to each, before they can make informed decisions.

“Being able to understand the conversation isn’t easy, but it’s important,” says Stewart. Echoing Stewart’s statement, Annesley says, “We need to be informed as citizens and consumers.” 

But the panelists also said that a problem they share, from hydro with its virtually zero greenhouse gas emissions to oil and gas, was communication.

We need to be “working with people rather than around them” says Irving when describing the type of healthy communication necessary in the future. This is crucial because, as Levy put it, “we’re making decisions today that have long term ramifications.” 

And whether those decisions are major infrastructure investments or how to manage the long-term environmental impact of different sources of energy, understanding energy and how it affects Canadians is fundamental to moving into the future in a responsible way.


Photo: The audience, filled with teachers and Canadian Geographic staff, listen to the discussion.

Credit: Jessica Toczko