Sunday, July 19, 2009

Proud to be British Columbian

Photo courtesy: T’Sou-ke Nation.

A small community on Vancouver Island is undergoing a solar project of epic proportions. T'Sou-ke First Nation in Sooke on the southern end of Vancouver Island will be powering nearly 30 buildings with solar energy.

British Columbia is a breath-taking province with many different climate zones. Sooke, on Vancouver Island, happens to be in the “rainforest” zone which accounts for the lush vegetation; as well as, being on the coast which explains the rugged “water/rock” landscape. Of course, I am just bragging; but, have decided to add a gratuitous picture of one point-of-view of Sooke anyway.

Photo courtesy:

Bragging over - on with the story.

The T'Sou-ke First Nation has launched a solar power project that will power its band office, fisheries building, canoe shed, and 25 homes on the reserve. They are installing solar panels to pre-heat hot water; and, photovoltaic panels to create clean electricity. The plan behind the photovoltaic panels is to avoid paying higher prices for electricity and to power potentially large savings as hydro prices spike.

Chief Planes said at the opening of the project: "We need to educate British Columbians [and] Canadians as a whole. We need to all get in the same canoe and go forward, and for us, like the potlatch style of giving away, we have information to give away, and this is where it starts."

The community had trained nine residents in solar power installation so that they would be able to take on the project. Another win-win situation. The residents received funded training and the community, in turn, receives well-trained technicians with a vested interest in the project. These highly-trained individuals will also be able to manage all future projects without the T'Sou-ke First Nations having to hire either outside contractors or as many contractors depending on the magnitude of the project.

Chief Gordon Planes of T'Sou-ke First Nation is hoping that other communities across Canada (and globally, hopefully) will look at this project and realize how feasible this can be when you go about it in the right manner. "I guess you could say we're the new warriors. We're educating our young people to be able to take on this task and it takes a whole community to do that," he said.

The new solar panel was launched on Friday, July 17, 2009 on the reserve. This forward-looking Nation is also looking at wind power and organic farming for their next projects.

Chief Gordon and the T’Sou-ke First Nation rocks! (as the young people say)

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