“We’re all in the same canoe,” said T’Sou-ke Nation Chief Gordon Planes as he spoke about the vision his community had for bringing solar power to their reserve.
On September 5, a ceremony took place celebrating the T’Sou-ke Nation becoming the first Aboriginal Community Canadian Solar City.
Having a vision and seeing it come to fruition is a remarkable achievement and that is exactly what has happened for the T’Sou-ke First Nation. They sought out the people who could make solar power a reality and they made it happen.
“I think we’re on the right path… the community is the one that brought this all together,” stated Planes.
The T’Sou-ke began this process back in 2009 and now have most of the homes and buildings on the reserve powered by the sun. They are the first place to have a solar-powered charging station for electric vehicles.
T’Sou-ke is one of the locations in B.C. for the Level 2 (240-volt). More than 140 of the stations are being installed around the province, 60 per cent of them by businesses. It’s all part of the $2.7-million community charging infrastructure (CCI) funding that was announced by the Ministry of the Environment last spring.
“I just see a huge opportunity, I just do. I want to see that change,” said Planes in referring to solar energy and self sufficiency.
Bob Haugen, Executive Director Canadian Solar City Project, spoke about the achievements and positive change the T’Sou-ke have made in their community for their community.
“Impacts on climate change are happening because of local leaderships,” he said at the ceremony.
He said the T’Sou-ke community is the “only, only city, town, village or community generating its own energy. The T’Sou-ke produce all their energy by solar and it comes from the community’s vision.”
Haugen presented Chief Planes with a sundial which was poured in a foundry in Nova Scotia using only solar power.
The day also brought an announcement of funding to the tune of $175,000 from the Nuu-chah-nulth Economic Development Corporation for the greenhouse project. They are planning on growing wasabi for commercial sale in the greenhouses. The plans are in place and the greenhouses have been ordered. The total greenhouse project cost is $437,500.
This is all a part of food security and the wasabi will be grown along with the more traditional crops at the greenhouse site.
“Food security is important for us,” said Planes. “The Creator provided us with a lot of opportunities to look after ourselves… Let’s create that change and push it.”
Speaking as well was Mike Bernier, Mayor of Dawson Creek and MLA for Peace River South, Chair of the Aboriginal Affairs Committee. Dawson Creek is considered one of the first solar cities along with Colwood.