All indigenous communities all over Canada are campaigning for the future of renewable energy as networking opportunities are being promoted with the advancement in technology. This was well seen in this year’s Indigenous Clean Energy (ICE) meeting that was conducted virtually. Darrell Brown, the ICE Executive Board Chairman, said that he was pleased with the community gathering as various First Nations began the sustainability journey. He added that they had come a long way, and they are going far, saying he is happy with everyone’s contribution.

Darrell is an entrepreneur who commenced Kisik Clean Energy to help indigenous communities develop wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, biomass, and microgrid technologies. He has been working in the green energy industry since 2016. Darrell was among those who developed Kiashke Zaaging Anishinaabek (KZA) project (Gull Bay First Nation) in northwestern Ontario.  The KZA project comprises battery storage and solar power in a microgrid transmission system. This project’s primary objective was to supply people with clean power to decrease the community’s dependence on diesel fuel. It is essential to note that the First Nation is not linked to the provincial grid. The coordinator of KZA energy projects, Aj Esquega, said that it could not get rid of diesel but can help reduce its consumption by up to 25%.

Sayisi Dene First Nation, located on the Tadoule Lake’s shores in northern Manitoba, is another off-grid community expected to spring renewables into a higher level. Darrell said that communities’ empowering is the key since, according to their beliefs; they feel that they are protecting their land, water, and wildlife. Therefore, the community will embrace all efforts in regard to renewable energy and decreasing the use of fossil fuels as per their beliefs.  The benefits delivered from these projects include creating job opportunities for these communities and professionals, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and decreasing environmental risk related to fuel storage. The use of renewable energy will also improve overall health since the burning of fossil fuels such as diesel has negative health effects.

To reduce the power costs, communities that are linked into provincial grids like Fisher River Cree Nation located in central Manitoba are heavily investing in renewable energy. Recently, the community announced one of the biggest solar farms in the province that sells surplus power into Manitoba Hydro’s grid. In November 2020, three indigenous communities, which are in northern Alberta, including Fort Chipewyan Metis Association, Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, and Mikisew Cree First Nation, started the largest solar farm in the country. Vince Robinson, Nuxalk Nation Clean Energy Co-ordinator, said that resources are limited, and pooling them together will help each community achieve what it wants.

By Adam

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