The Kluane National Park was founded in southwestern Yukon on part of the traditional territory of the Kluane First Nation. The creation of the park forced the displacement of some Kluane homes and families. Today, the Nation is centered around the town of Burwash Landing where diesel power continues to fulfill the energy needs of this off grid community. Fossil fuels are also hastening climate change, melting the glaciers that define their territory. Waters that historically fed Kluane Lake have subsequently increased in volume and now their flow is being re-directed away from the lake and instead towards the Pacific Ocean. The result has been a dramatic drop in water level on Kluane Lake, threatening this culturally important body of water, a source of fish, jobs, transportation, and tourism revenue for the Nation. Faced with the reality of climate change and the cost of trucking in diesel fuel, the Nation is embarking on an effort to plan and create a suite of renewable energy projects that can sustain the Nation’s power needs, in line with their cultural values. Testing is currently underway to determine the potential for geothermal energy and solar panels are already providing renewable energy to key community buildings. However, their largest and most distinctive clean energy initiative is about to begin. Led by Nation members and staff, the construction of three wind turbines, the largest in the Yukon, is setting a benchmark for clean energy success among remote Yukon communities.
Host Melina Laboucan-Massimo travels to Burwash Landing in the Yukon to connect with Kluane singer/songwriter Diyet Van Lieshout, Chair of the Kluane Development Corp. Inspired by her culture and history, Diyet’s music and work is helping to shape her community’s transition from fossil fuels to clean energy. A three-hour drive east, Melina heads to Whitehorse where a remarkable group of young Indigenous people are collaborating in a unique national clean energy initiative – the 20/20 Catalysts Program. As a past participant of the program, Melina reveals how it’s empowering ‘Catalysts’ to research, plan and build a range of Indigenous led clean energy solutions in their communities. Melina returns with the Catalysts back to Kluane First Nation to celebrate National Indigenous People’s Day and the groundbreaking of Kluane’s revolutionary new wind energy project.