Environment alumnus Eryn Stewart (BES ’15) is a champion for Indigenous leadership and inclusion in the clean energy economy.
Eryn is the Vice President of Lumos Energy and a Director at the Indigenous Clean Energy (ICE) Social Enterprise. Lumos Energy supports Indigenous communities lead the development of clean energy projects that maximize benefits for Indigenous communities, partners, and investors.
Eryn is the creator and Director of the 20/20 Catalysts Program — an award-winning, interactive Indigenous clean energy capacity-building program designed to support communities embarking on clean energy projects.
The program has supported over 100 Indigenous communities across Canada and has received praise from communities, foundations, industry, as well as provincial/territorial and national governments alike.
Eryn’s journey with Lumos Energy began in 2015 while she was finishing up her Environment and Business (ENBUS) degree. As a student, her interests included energy, climate policy and the Indigenous consultation process for major industrial projects. On her second last co-op term, working as a research assistant with the Faculty of Environment, Allison Frain, the administrator for the Masters in ENBUS program, recommended the book, Aboriginal Power, by Chris Henderson.
Serendipitously, Eryn attended a conference where Henderson, president of Lumos Energy, spoke. She approached Henderson after his presentation and shared her thoughts about the book and her interests. He asked Eryn to write up a program plan for the 20/20 Catalysts Program and meet him in Toronto in two weeks. Eryn, ready with her plan, bussed from Waterloo to Toronto. The rest is history.
One of Eryn’s many goals is helping shape a new narrative that focuses on Indigenous communities leading the way to a just environmental and clean energy transition. She believes in Indigenous self-reliance and independence and a lot of what she does in her work and personal life focuses on rewriting a better history for the future.
As a settler-Canadian whose family has lived in Canada for generations, Eryn believes she must take a role in re-learning Canada’s true history as part of decolonization. It’s critical to listen to Indigenous voices; it is everyone’s duty to look at our systems, culture and everyday practices and put an end to all the ways they continue to disadvantage Indigenous peoples and communities.
“I’m not going to say, I’m a good ally because I make mistakes every day. For myself, it is better to make mistakes than be complacent in a system that is not treating people as equals. That’s what is important to me. It is not up to Indigenous people to provide emotional labor to Canadians, it’s important that we do the homework ourselves. If you do ask them to share to learn from their experiences, pay them, and pay them well,” she says.
Whether it is developing a renewable energy project, spearheading energy efficiency and conservation efforts, or providing energy education opportunities, Eryn wholeheartedly respects the leadership of Indigenous communities and aims to be supportive in whatever capacity that they see fit.