As solar power is projected to make up larger percentages of energy production in Alberta and Saskatchewan, both the prairie provinces are takes steps to ensure that aboriginal communities are included in the process.
In 2017, the province of Alberta announced it’s Indigenous Solar Program aimed to provides grants to Alberta Indigenous communities or Indigenous organization to install solar photovoltaic (PV) systems on facilities owned by the community or a community organization.
The initial program was created to assist in:
- increasing Indigenous participation in Climate Leadership initiatives that reduce community greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
- the transition to a lower carbon economy
- creating more sustainable community energy generation
- equipping Indigenous communities with information to support them in investing in solar energy infrastructure
Taking Back The Economy
Solar projects in aboriginal communities are of unique importance because of their proximity to the Athabasca oil sands.
As Crystal Lemanam, treaty coordinator and member of the Beaver Lake Cree First Nation (pictured above) states,
“…the way in which economics in this country has been defined has been at the expense of the lands and resources of Indigenous peoples.” – source
Similar projects under the Indigenous Solar Program have already been installed at the Little Buffalo Community Centre at Lubicon Cree First Nation (pictured right).
New: Cold Lake First Nation has recently announced that it will receive $250,000 to fund a solar projects in the community thanks to the Alberta Indigenous Solar Program.
This represents a gigantic step towards utility scale power being owned and operated by aboriginal communities.