Kanaka Bar: Harnessing the power of community

By Sherry Yano, Manager, Renewable Energy Transition, with video by Jeremy Williams

In the heart of British Columbia’s Fraser Canyon region, between the towns of Boston Bar and Lytton, lies the traditional territory of the Kanaka Bar Indian Band — also known as T’eqt’aqtn’mux or “the crossing place people.”

Kanaka Bar Chief Patrick Michell believes in the importance of the values and ways of his ancestors. He and his community want to continue to live those values today.

“Our ancestors lived in harmony with the land for over 8,000 years,” he says. “There were some basic principles: take what you need, no more. If you’re going to do something, do it right. If you take it in, take it out. And when you’re done, clean up after yourself.”

One of the ways Kanaka Bar can honour those principles is to return to greater self-sufficiency and sustainability, in energy as well as food.

“My mandate as chief of this community, of what we call Kanaka Bar today, is that there is the same — or if not more — opportunity for my future generations,” he says.

Chief Michell and the Kanaka Bar Indian Band chose to harness the renewable power of a run-of-river project.

In 2013, a 49.9-megawatt run-of-river project became reality through a partnership with Innergex Renewable Energy. The Kwoiek Creek power plant has been so successful that gains have been used to install solar panels, improve housing and start a community garden.

For Chief Michell, Kanaka Bar is harnessing the energy that nature provides — something that allows the community to better meet its own needs, as well as providing power to the surrounding communities. And it’s helping everyone build a better future together.

“Kanaka Bar is embracing the renewable energy sector to prepare for an environment and economy of tomorrow,” he says.

Renewable energy is empowering communities across the country. Charged Up is the story of you — of all of us — on a mission for a cleaner, healthier, charged-up Canada.

Jeremy Williams is a producer, director and editor at River Voices Productions. He has created over 100 short films and documentaries on environmental, cultural and political issues.

Written with contributions by Climate and Clean Energy Communications Specialist Emily Stanislaus.

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