Several years ago, CFN-GBI Nations got together to write a community action plan focused on improving energy efficiency and transitioning to clean energy. BC Hydro and both provincial and federal governments participated.
“There was a push to get remote communities onto the BC Hydro system,” said project manager Gillian Aubie
Vines. “My job involves running around to governments and to BC Hydro, to try and get them to meet Indigenous
communities’ energy goals. In other words, I’m shaking trees to make things happen.”
Vines says there has been a shift in BC in the last decade and that more people believe in the power of clean energy.
Plus, she says, partnering with First Nations saves BC Hydro money, because the more electricity they save, the more
money they save. “We started saying, we don’t want your contractors to come, sign a form, do an upgrade that might
not work and leave,” said Vines, adding that CFN-GBI community leaders wanted local people trained.
To that end, energy upgrades have been undertaken in hundreds of homes in Masset and Skidegate in Haida
Gwaii, and work is underway with the Nuxalk, who in many ways have been leading the transformation of on-reserve
housing. Around 50 homes have also been upgraded in Klemtu, while more trainers and resources are in place to
continue the work.
Communities are learning how to run the upgrade projects themselves, while increasing capacity and offering new
staff positions for qualified local workers. And that’s ensuring a growing group within each community of project
champions, who are sure to share their stories of energy savings far and wide.