"In my home community launching solar in the heart of the tar sands," tweeted Melina Laboucan-Massimo, Climate & Energy advocate and a Lubicon Cree First Nation member.
The 20.8kW solar project that has been developed in Little Buffalo, Alberta, Canada holds a huge significance to the Lubicon Cree First Nation community, as it has been set up in traditional oil territory. The Lubicon Cree First Nation is a community of aboriginal people in Canada.
According to the Lubicon Cree First Nation, oil companies have extracted $14bn in resources from the traditional territory with the royalties going to the Alberta government.
Laboucan-Massimo told local media that the indigenous communities in northern Alberta used to be self-sufficient, but with the advent of oil extraction activities, they have become increasingly dependent on social services for food, water and fuel. The development of the Piitapan Solar Project, which means Sunrise in Cree, is one step towards the creation of green jobs and to decrease reliance on fossil fuels.
Laboucan-Massimo raised funds for the PV development with help from W Dusk Energy, a grant from BullFrog Power, and donations from Honor the Earth Foundation, as well as former actress and environmental activist Jane Fonda.
The Piitapan PV project is community owned and operated. The PV installation will be connected to the Little Buffalo health facility through Albertas Micro-Generator program.
The solar plant also acts as an education tool and demonstration project, and the project team aims to hold system installer training programs. The bigger plan is to install a larger PV system that can power the entire hamlet.