For over half a century, the Taku River Tlingit Nation and the adjacent town of Atlin, BC near the BC/Yukon border, relied on a diesel power plant to sustain their energy needs. Nation leaders saw their long-term desire to offset diesel power with clean, renewable energy as part of a healing process from the effects of colonization and residential schools. Just over a decade ago, the Nation got behind the development of a run-of-the-river hydro project that offered the promise of achieving their goal of diesel energy independence.
Today, the Nation’s natural force of gravity and water to spin turbines that now output over 5 gigawatts of power annually, enough to supply all the energy needs for the Nation and the town of Atlin. Since inception, the project has fully displaced the diesel plants annual consumption of 1.2 million liters of fuel (3,300 liters a day) netting approximately 4500 tons fewer greenhouse gases. Locally owned, operated and employing Nation members, XEITL is the Tlingit word meaning ‘lightning’ or ‘power’.
Host Melina Laboucan-Massimo visits the picture post card town of Atlin, BC where she visits with their current and future generation of clean energy leaders. She sees how the Nation relies on traditional Indigenous law to guide their land use planning and economy. Known as ‘Relaw’, to learn more about this resurgence of Indigenous law, Melina visits friends in North Vancouver’s Tsleil Waututh Nation to see why their opposition to the Kinder Morgan pipeline is ultimately their expression of energy independence.