Celebrating National Indigenous History Month
This month we’re celebrating National Indigenous History Month, and honouring the vibrant history, heritage and diversity of Indigenous Peoples in Canada. At ATCO, we’ve been building strong, mutually prosperous Indigenous partnerships for decades, and today we have more than 50 partnerships, joint ventures and relationship agreements with Indigenous communities. As we continue to diversify and expand our business, we’ll committed to understanding the unique perspectives of all neighbouring communities and Indigenous Peoples, and take a long-term approach to building relationships based on trust and respect.
In 2019, there were a number of exciting initiatives that we partnered with Indigenous communities on a number of exciting initiatives. Here are a few examples.
Fort Chipewyan Solar Project
Fort Chipewyan is a remote community in northern Alberta, and is home to 1,000 people who rely on diesel generation for their electricity. Every year, the fuel is transported by trucks on winter roads that are only open for a six-week period. The community was outgrowing the existing diesel tanks and a sustainable solution was needed.
In partnership with Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, Mikisew Cree First Nation and Fort Chipewyan Métis Local 125, we energized a 600-kilowatt (kW) solar project in early 2019. Together, we are expanding the project to include an Indigenous-owned 2,200-kW solar farm, battery energy storage system and microgrid control system. When fully operational later this year, the project will be the largest off-grid solar and battery storage project in Canada, offsetting 800,000 litres of diesel annually, a reduction of approx. 25 per cent.
Siksika First Nation Emergency Management
In the fall of 2019, ATCO Frontec partnered with Siksika Nation to deliver a 5-day Incident Management Team training course to Nation members. This course was specifically designed to build capacity within Siksika’s Emergency Management division and to strengthen resilience within the Nation.
Since then, our Frontec team has been working closely with the Nation, building capacity and providing technical assistance in order to combat the various environmental hazards that the Nation has endured in recent years. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, team members were embedded directly within Siksika Emergency Management, providing 24/7 support in their Emergency Coordination Centre. The team directly supported emergency operations, including activities such as communications, planning, and logistics as the Nation managed the initial phases of the crisis.
This is just one example of the Frontec’s ‘Partnering 4 Resilience’ program which is has been specifically designed to support communities facing the devastating effects of disaster.
Paul First Nation Natural Gas Solutions
In 2019, we worked together with the Paul First Nation to install natural gas infrastructure to connect 75 homes in the community. This will enable the community to transition from heating their homes with wood stoves to using clean-burning natural gas, improving air quality in the area.
ATCO’s Craig Shaw was the Construction Operator responsible for the organizing and installation of the services, and enjoyed the opportunity to support and work with the community:
“I’m honoured and very privileged to be able to work with the Paul Band First Nations working closely with their counsellors,” says Shaw. “Being Indigenous myself, working in that environment makes me feel like I’m home.”