First Nations Generate Solar Energy

Three First Nations in the Columbia Basin are increasing renewable energy generation and sustainability of their affordable rental housing by adding solar panels.

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Three projects are supported by Columbia Basin Trust and the New Relationship Trust

Three First Nations in the Columbia Basin are increasing renewable energy generation and sustainability of their affordable rental housing by adding solar panels. This improves energy efficiency while creating sustainable, comfortable and affordable housing for members. The projects are receiving support from Columbia Basin Trust and the New Relationship Trust.


Shuswap Band is adding solar panels to the 13 affordable rental homes it created in 2020 and 2021: eight one-bedroom and five larger family homes.

“The solar panels will be good for the environment and reduce energy costs to our tiny homes and five new modular homes.”

Dolores Nicholas, Housing Manager

Yaqan NuɁkiy (Lower Kootenay Band) is adding solar panels to six units—two small homes that were built in 2020/21 and four that are starting construction this year—plus bringing fibre optic cable to the four new units under construction, enabling them to join a high-speed Internet network in the future. They will also train, mentor and employ local First Nations members to install the solar panels and fibre optic cable, creating two meaningful training opportunities to increase knowledge and experience.

“The installation of these solar panels for the new highly efficient small homes will not only provide training opportunities for Lower Kootenay Band members but will also allow these small homes to generate their own renewable energy. Many houses at LKB are poorly insulated and energy-inefficient so having six new net-zero homes will have a big impact on energy bills.”

Debbie Edge-Partington, Housing Coordinator

Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi’it (Tobacco Plains Indian Band) is adding solar panels to 12 units built since 2018: a fourplex, a triplex, one duplex, one modular home and two mini homes. This project will also aim to train, mentor and employ local First Nations members to install the solar panels, creating meaningful training opportunities to increase knowledge and experience.

“Affordable housing is always a top priority for the ʔakanuxunik̓ (the people) of Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi’it (Tobacco Plains Indian Band). The addition of these solar panels to our 12 rental units will assist our membership in accessing more affordable power. Currently there are consistent issues with power outages; having the solar panels will allow for less dependency on grid power. This project will also engage and recruit membership as there will be three training opportunities for them to learn and gain knowledge in solar energy systems. Alignment with the community’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing usage of green energy is an added bonus. We are excited for all the benefits this project will bring to Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi’it.”

Nasuʔkin Heidi Gravelle

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