The Lubicon Lake First Nation in western Canada is trying to spark a renewable energy movement with a new solar power project. The project is led by Melina Laboucan, an indigenous activist who joined Nobel Women’s Initiative for its 2015 Defending Defenders conference and its 2012 Breaking Ground: Women, Oil & Climate Change delegation.
Laboucan says she hopes the 80-panel solar installation her community has built to power its health centre will send a clear message to Canadian leaders and other communities that the use of fossil fuels as a source of electricity is not necessary. She says fear over the devastating impact of fossil fuels on the health of indigenous communities—elevated rates of respiratory conditions, cancers and other illnesses— sparked her tireless fundraising to make the project a reality.
“We need something that will make our ancestors and elders proud. This is reflective of our own indigenous philosophies; having a reciprocal relationship with the earth — not taking more than you need and thinking and working for the future generations,” she says.
This Aboriginal Community Is Launching a Solar Project in the Heart of Canada’s Oil Sands, Vice, 20 August 2015.
Lubicon Lake First Nation using solar to power health centre, CBC News, 21 August 2015.
Creating a new story in Lake Lubicon: Site of the infamous 2011 oil spill, Social Enterprise Canada, 19 August 2015.