Chief Patrick Michell of the Nlaka’pamux Nation in B.C. says meeting energy needs in concert with nature resonates with his nation’s values. Nlaka’pamux is working toward food and energy self-sufficiency. The Kanaka Bar Indian Band, one of 17 bands in the nation, has solar projects and has partnered with Innergex Renewable Energy and others on a run-of-river project to generate power and income.
“What you do to the land, you do to yourself,” Michell says, quoting a traditional saying.
He says his people have been food and energy self-sufficient for thousands of years, but recently his community has seen changes in weather patterns, water flows, precipitation, forest fires and ecosystems, often related to climate change.
Kanaka Bar is building more energy-efficient homes and retrofitting existing houses to reduce energy needs. That costs money up front, but Patrick says he’s seen some of his neighbours’ energy bills plummet.
Neighbouring communities are asking about Kanaka Bar’s experience, and Michell is happy to see the work rippling out. For him, these efforts represent a return to the land, to values that will help his community become more self-sufficient, vibrant and resilient.