For this first time in 50 years, Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation’s solar farm will shut down its diesel generators. This farm, located in Old Crow, Yukon, started generating electricity and in the next few months, the array will be fully operational, capable of meeting the community’s needs.
Leaders of the First Nation stated that the farm displaced 190,000 litres of diesel fuel every year, which was not only expensive to maintain, but also hazardous to the environment.
Vuntut Gwitchin Chief Dana Tizya-Tramm said:
“That silence speaks very loudly. I think this is a really powerful image because through this project is the technological realization of our community and our journey back to the land.”
Brandon Kyikavichik, the First Nation’s heritage interpreter, is also pleased with this change.
“The symbolism in shutting down those generators will be, we’re becoming more sustainable and we’re becoming more self-sufficient like our ancestors were. The elders always say once you get to a certain age that’s when you have to start working towards leaving a foundation for the next generation. This is a process that’s been going on for thousands of years. We need to carry it on.”
Jay Massie, ATCO Electric’s vice-president of northern development and Indigenous relations, said that this transition is important not only for the First Nation but also for others. ATCO has a purchase agreement with Vuntut Gwitchin.
“A lot of diesel fuel will no longer have to be trucked up the highway to the Dempster and flown into Old Crow. It just removes all that risk of moving all that fuel. With them putting this project together really did align with what we want to do, which is reduce our footprint on the environment, for sure.”