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Inaugural Green Jobs Conference to be held Dec. 16 in Walker

Sponsored by Honor the Earth — an organization that raises awareness for Native environmental issues — the conference is set for 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 16, at the Northern Lights Casino Event Center in Walker and will host several keynote speakers who will focus on green business, climate, environment, sustainability and Indigenous communities.

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The first-ever 8th Fire Green Jobs Conference is set for 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 16, at the Northern Lights Casino Event Center in Walker.
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WALKER — Anybody who is curious about the green jobs industry will have a chance to learn more about it at the first-ever 8th Fire Green Jobs Conference taking place from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 16, at the Northern Lights Casino Event Center in Walker.

Sponsored by Honor the Earth — an organization that raises awareness for Native environmental issues — the conference will host several keynote speakers who will focus on green business, climate, environment, sustainability and Indigenous communities.

Attendees will also be able to network with these speakers who are already engaged in the green economy while learning how to protect natural resources and build a green future through their work.

“This conference is not a job fair. This conference is put together for everybody just to come together and look at what you can do in your own career that could contribute or connect to a green job market,” conference organizer Annie Humphrey said, “or even just the climate in general.”

Speaker line-up

Sean Sherman, of “The Sioux Chef,” is one keynote speaker who will discuss ways that people can decolonize their diets, according to Humphrey.

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As part of a team of Indigenous chefs, caterers, foragers and musicians among other roles, Sherman’s work is, “committed to revitalizing Native American Cuisine and in the process we are re-identifying North American Cuisine and reclaiming an important culinary culture long buried and often inaccessible,” the Sioux Chef website states.

Red Lake tribal member Bob Blake, the chief executive officer of Solar Bear Solar in Minneapolis, will be a featured speaker as well.

Blake’s solar installation company was at the forefront of a groundbreaking project in Red Lake starting in 2017, which included installing solar panels on tribal buildings.

With speakers split between a daytime session from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and an evening event starting at 6 p.m., polar explorer Will Steger will present his documentary, “After Antarctica,” after which a question-and-answer session about his movie will conclude the day’s events.

“Steger has been an eyewitness to climate change for quite a while,” Humphrey said. “If you work and can attend, I’d strongly recommend and encourage people to come to the evening event.”

The daytime line-up will include six other speakers and break-out sessions that will cover topics ranging from industrial hemp to food sovereignty to renewable energy.

“I hope that anyone who has any interest in this would attend as just a lifelong learner,” Humphrey added. “Come out and see what it’s all about.”

Looking ahead

With hopes that this will become an annual event, Humphrey is excited to engage in conversations regarding climate change adaptation and sustainability.

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“It’s something we all need to start thinking about,” Humphrey noted. “If we can find a little bit of common ground, then the fight against the destruction of the natural world could be better understood.”

Humphrey sees the event expanding to a multi-day conference next year, which would be another chance to engage multiple generations in the climate discussion.

“We have these little ones in preschool who are born into (climate change) and they’re going to live like this,” she added. “We’re in different stages of this climate awareness, and we should be paying attention and giving attention to the areas that need more education.

“So, I think this is really going to evolve and it’s important that we keep on gathering to learn more and do more.”

The public is encouraged to register at honorearth.org/greenconference. The conference is free to attend.

Daltyn Lofstrom is a reporter at the Bemidji Pioneer focusing on education and community stories.
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