FISHER RIVER CREE NATION, MAN. — Fisher River Cree Nation of Manitoba has announced the commissioning of the biggest solar project ever built in the province.
The one-megawatt facility has almost 3,000 solar panels and was built entirely by Indigenous employees, stated an Aug. 19 release.
The Fisher River community funded the nearly $2.4-million project from its own resources, along with $1 million from Western Economic Diversification Canada.
Partners in the project were W Dusk Energy, Bullfrog Power, Solvest and the Royal Bank of Canada. W Dusk Energy, an Indigenous-owned renewable energy firm, helped design and manage the Fisher River solar project.
David Isaac, who is Mi’kmaw and the owner of W Dusk Energy, sees renewable energy as an important priority for First Nations.
“We’re trying to create a new standard for our communities,” Isaac said in the release. “People are more enlightened about self-sufficiency and decentralized energy, and Fisher River is right at the leading edge of that.”
“This solar project is a source of empowerment and pride for our community,” said Fisher River Chief David Crate. “In addition to generating revenue and training local workers in solar installation, we’re also starting a conversation about large-scale green energy. We want to show both Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities that ambitious renewable energy projects are possible without further harming the environment.”
Eleven community members participated in the project. They completed a one-week training course before spending six weeks installing panels on the solar farm.
Fisher River’s solar array hosts wildflowers to help support the local bee population, as well as an electric vehicle (EV) charging station that Tesla donated. EV charging is available at no cost to the public.
Fisher River has also trained 15 certified local workers to install geothermal heating systems. The systems increase energy efficiency and have already cut the electricity costs in half for 300 homes.