Community of the Year Award 2018
The Wuikinuxv Nation community of Wuikinuxv Village is a remote, off-grid community located at River’s Inlet, BC. The village is home to approximately 70 residents occupying 45 homes and is only accessible by boat or float plane. From time immemorial, Wuikinuxv Nation has been sustained by the natural wealth of their homeland. The Nation is rooted in their cultural values and traditional way of life, relying on the rich waters surrounding their village and a relationship with the land that sustains them. Ongoing logging development is a primary industry within the region. In the summer fishing lodges are temporarily active, and a small regional salmon hatchery has been developed in the village.
For many decades the community has relied on diesel generation as its only electrical energy source. Over this time the rising costs of fuel have been economically crippling for the community, and the barging and handling of diesel fuel has posed a significant risk to the environment and rich biodiversity of the area.
Wuikinuxv has recognized the opportunity and the need for hydroelectricity since the 1960s. Achieving energy security and self-sufficiency has been a challenge, and a longstanding priority for the Nation. With support from the Federal government, in 2014 Wuikinuxv Leadership began working in collaboration with the Nature Conservancy of Canada (owner of lands adjacent to Nicknaqueet River) and the project team to plan, design and achieve regulatory permitting for a hydropower facility on Nicknaqueet River. This collaborative effort, led by the Nation, resulted in an innovative project design with minimal footprint, that mitigates potential adverse impacts to the sensitive coastal environment and the salmon-rich waters. The Nicknaqueet River hydropower facility completed construction in 2018. At long last the community has a reliable source of clean energy, allowing the diesel generators to stand silent for most of the year.
The Nicknaqueet River project was a community-led initiative since day one. Nation members assisted with early stage feasibility studies, providing invaluable knowledge of the land and important historical sites. Through the design and development stage, Wuikinuxv members played a critical role in determining the location of project components, assisting in project layout, and collecting the data required to design the Project. The Nation went to great efforts to accommodate the project team in the small community, providing accommodations, meals, transportation and communications and also site safety, including bear watch in prime grizzly bear habitat. Wuikinuxv members did their utmost to support the project.
In addition to graciously opening their homes and kitchens to the project team, members undertook training and skills development to enhance their roles in construction. When construction was fully underway, the construction work force consisted of up to 60% of Wuikinuxv members. The plant is now fully operational, with the two permanent Plant Operator positions filled by Wuikinuxv members.
The vision, patience, persistence and direct involvement of the entire Wuikinuxv community made this clean energy project possible. This community-wide commitment to reduce dependence on diesel generated electricity is exemplary and worthy of recognition.
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