“First Nations have experience in living on this continent for thousands of years without use of fossil fuels. It is now appropriate that First Nations demonstrate how to live without fossil fuels once again.”
-Chief Gordon Planes
With all the furor surrounding the oil sands and the prospect of Canada becoming “the Saudi Arabia of the north”, there isn’t much dialogue being directed at alternative energy systems such as sunlight, wind, geothermal and biomass.
It’s true that we have to stay focused on the task at hand; especially given the wide spectrum of risks that come with exploiting the tar sands. But at the same time, we have to keep a firm eye on the future, in the very least, for our own cultural, social, spiritual, economic, psychological and physical well-being as distinct peoples.
The T’Sou-ke Nation on Vancouver Island is going a long way to do just that. As you’ll see in this video from 2009, the T’Sou-ke have a established solar energy project termed “Sum-SHA-Thut”, the Sencoten word for “sunshine”.
In doing so, the T’Sou-ke Nation is breaking away from it’s dependency on fossil fuels while developing a local economy that’s rooted in the traditions of sustainable living, as all Indigenous Nations once lived as a matter of course.
T’Sou-ke Chief Gordon Planes once said, “the Sum-SHA-Thut project is the first step in achieving energy self-sufficiency once again.”
Now, with the “Sum-SHA-Thut” project standing firm, the T’Sou-ke have now begun to use green solutions to heat and cool a new industrial greenhouse.
There are many other examples we can turn to for inspiration.
- The Turtle Island News Network has fairly comprehensive resource page on sustainable projects in Canada
- Honor The Earth has an excellent publication that you can download, called Sustainable Tribal Economies
- The Indigenous Food Systems Network has tonnes of information on Food Sovereignty.
- And then there’s Indigenous Permaculture and Indigenous Peoples’ Restoration Network who are doing all sorts of good things.
There’s a lot more out there to be sure, but this will get you started.
Know any good resources that should be added here? Post a comment and tell us about it!