Power to the People

Inspired Initiatives

Episode #4

Haida Gwaii, BC

Surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and off the BC hydro grid, the Haida Nation relies on diesel generators to power their communities. Now, a home-grown group is looking to the wind, sun and sea to offset their reliance on fossil fuels.

Haida Gwaii is an Island archipelago lying roughly 50km off the north coast of BC. Formerly called the Queen Charlotte Islands, in 2010 the Islands were officially named Haida Gwaii meaning “Islands of the Haida People”. Approximately half of its current population is comprised of Haida Nation members who reside around their two main communities – Old Masset in the north and Skidegate in the south. With approximately 65% of Haida Gwaii’s power needs provided by diesel generators, a group of Haida residents created the ‘Swiilawiid Sustainability Society’ whose goal is to offset the roughly 10 million liters of diesel fuel required to power their communities each year. ‘Project 0% Diesel’ is their main initiative that seeks to eliminate Haida Gwaii’s diesel consumption through innovative energy conservation programs and a combination of smaller scale renewable energy projects. To compliment Haida Gwaii’s existing solar power projects, Swiilawiid is committed to looking to all natural elements to harness power, and some Island neighbours are exploring ways to harness the power of the tides. 

Host Melina Laboucan-Massimo travels to Haida Gwaii to meet the Swiilawiid Sustainability Society and learn about ‘Project 0% Diesel’. In Skidegate and Old Masset, Melina sees how the Haida Nation’s elected leaders share their vision for a future powered by clean energy. With the power of the north Pacific Ocean surrounding Haida Gwaii, Melina examines the latest research efforts into wave and tidal, then travels to a traditional camp to see how Haida youth are being empowered through solar energy.

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