In 2017, Swiilawiid Sustainability Society, a not-for-profit group on Haida Gwaii, approached the Bullfrog community for support with funding three solar projects.
Located off the northwest coast of British Columbia, Haida Gwaii is an archipelago that is home to 4,500 people, approximately half of which are Haida.
Haida Gwaii is considered one of the remaining pristine and wild places in the world. With more than 13,000 years of history, its people have earned a reputation for being strong environmental stewards, and that is why the Swiilawiid Sustainability Society formed—to help maintain the legacy of environmental stewardship on Haida Gwaii, “the Islands of the People”.
What made the solar initiative so interesting to Bullfrog—aside from the location and the people involved—were its goals.
In its inaugural year, Swiilawiid set out to introduce solar power to three Rediscovery camps, places where Haida and all-Island youth can be re-connected to their land, culture and off-grid lifestyles; increase understanding and awareness; and build bridges between cultures. Swiilawiid felt it could positively shape the future of energy on the island by showing younger generations what was possible through renewable energy at the camps.
The challenge with energy on Haida Gwaii is that 65% of the island’s energy comes from diesel energy. In 2017, the three camps ran entirely on fossil fuel-powered generators. Wanting to introduce clean power among its youth, Swiilawiid planned to use the projects to generate awareness and local community excitement around the potential of solar energy.
With help of the Bullfrog community, Swiilawiid was able to achieve its goal of installing panels on all three camps this spring. This summer, young campers from across the island will arrive at the facilities to find them 100% solar powered!
Rediscovery Haida Gwaii on the north end of the island is now home to a 1.4 kW installation; Swan Bay Rediscovery in the south end houses a beautiful 2 kW installation, while Mount Moresby Adventure Camp in the middle of the island features a 4.5 kW project.
“As a small island community, we have the potential to swiftly transition to renewable power and become a case study for the rest of Canada,” said Valine Crist, who is the co-founder and Executive Director of Swiilawiid Sustainability Society. “We could not have completed this project without bullfrogpowered customers and we are so thankful for their support.”
Now that the projects are complete, camp staff are busy incorporating discussions about solar energy and the installations into summer camp programming.
“These solar projects help to demonstrate the opportunities renewables provide us here on Haida Gwaii—lower environmental impact, possible cost savings and employment, and self-sufficiency. It’s so great that our young people get to see and experience it all first hand,” says Crist.