Magazine article Alternatives Journal

Old Ways, New Path: How the T'sou-Ke Nation Is Powering Its Cultural Revitalization

Magazine article Alternatives Journal

Old Ways, New Path: How the T'sou-Ke Nation Is Powering Its Cultural Revitalization

Article excerpt

CHIEF GORDON PLANES of the T'Sou-ke First Nation in Sooke, BC, motivated his community to become one of the greenest in Canada with a simple idea: "We used to live sustainably, and only took what we needed from the land. We need to get back to that."

Five years ago, guided by the ancestral custom of looking ahead seven generations, the community prepared a vision with four goals: self-sufficiency in energy and food, economic independence--or as Chief Planes has said, "No more living off the dole"--and a return to traditional ways and values.

But the T'Sou-ke cultural renaissance looks more like the future than the past. In 2009, the community collaborated with contractors to build a 400-panel solar photovoltaic system that generates 50 per cent more electricity than the next largest in the province. Power bills at the three administrative offices where the panels are located have since been reduced by 100 per cent: the other 25 homes the system powers have cut costs by up to half.

In 2009 and 2010, hot-water solar panels were installed on the roofs of 42 of the 86 buildings on the reserve. The remaining houses will be upgraded with heat-pump water heaters by the end of 2014.

Some homes have received extra roof insulation and new appliances to replace obsolete ones, and all buildings are pursuing a comprehensive conservation program using energy-saving light bulbs, low-flow shower heads, weather stripping and hot-water-pipe insulation. Supported by organizations like the youth-driven T'Souke Smart Energy Group, conservation kits and behavioural training are encouraging residents to turn down thermostats and mind light usage. The ongoing goal is to get all buildings to net-zero energy usage.

"Conservation is crucial, since it is 10 times more expensive to generate electricity than to save it," says special projects manager Andrew Moore, who is responsible for transforming the community's vision into reality. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.