Long before it became a popular tourist destination, the Tla-o-qui-aht Nation were the original caretakers of Long Beach, the resort town of Tofino and the old growth forest of Clayoquot Sound. To protect and preserve their culture and visually stunning territory from forestry operations and tourism development surrounding them, the Tla-o-qui-aht Nation created a Tribal Parks program. Developed to promote their vision of a conservation-based economy, that autonomy and vision is the foundation on which the Nation is pursuing clean energy initiatives that re-invest revenues back into the community. The Nation recently expanded on that effort with a community based geothermal heating system. This ‘geoexchange’ system uses the natural heating and cooling properties in the earth to produce clean and cost-effective energy that delivers heat and hot water to their homes and buildings. With the success of their run of the river hydro projects and their geoexchange power plant, the Nation is now exploring the potential of larger scale geothermal energy to produce electricity.
Host Melina Laboucan-Massimo travels to Tofino to meet the Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks Guardians who show her how their culture and values are intertwined in their program and the growth of their Nation’s clean energy program. To understand the potential for geothermal heating and cooling for other communities, Melina heads south to Victoria to meet a local First Nation exploring the potential of geoexchange technology.