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(By Rudy Howell – Sherwood Park News – Sherwood Park, AB – May 21, 2022) – In recognition of the history and connection of Indigenous peoples to the land housing EPCOR’s new solar farm, the facility now has an Indigenous name.

The name, kīsikāw pīsim (KEY-see-gaw PEE-sim), means daylight sun and is represented in Cree syllabics as ᑮᓯᑳᐤ ᐲᓯᒼ. Enoch Cree Nation gifted the name to EPCOR in January through a pipe ceremony with senior leadership of both the Nation and EPCOR.

“We are proud to give this name and in doing so we acknowledge EPCOR’s desire to steward these lands, to connect our peoples to this place, and to seek reconciliation. We are proud of our relationship with EPCOR and of the future. We will walk together,” said Chief Billy Morin of Enoch Cree Nation.

Giving the solar farm an Indigenous name is one of the elements of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), signed in 2020, formalizing a strong, cooperative relationship between EPCOR and Enoch Cree Nation. In developing the MOU, both parties also acknowledged their shared support for the principles of the Edmonton Declaration, which calls for immediate and urgent action to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Located just south of EPCOR’s existing E.L. Smith Water Treatment Plant, construction of the solar farm and battery energy storage system (BESS) projects began in the summer of 2021 with the final solar panel installed in March of this year. There are now 30,350 panels installed and ready to begin generating power once the remainder of the system components is completed and commissioned.

The solar farm will generate 21,500-megawatt hours of renewable energy annually to help power EPCOR’s water treatment plant and its water treatment and distribution processes, providing clean water made with clean energy. It will achieve real, tangible, and immediate reductions in greenhouse gas emissions; help meet the City of Edmonton’s goal to generate new local sources of renewable electricity, and make the water treatment plant more self-sufficient and climate-resilient.

“We are honoured by the gift of this name for our solar farm facility and acknowledge our responsibilities on the path to reconciliation. We respect and honour the history of this site, and will continue seeking out meaningful ways for Enoch Cree Nation and its people to re-connect with their historic lands,”said Stuart Lee, EPCOR President & CEO.

In addition, as part of the project, EPCOR is transferring 31.5 acres of land to the City of Edmonton to extend and improve its recreational trail network; has enlarged the wildlife corridor along the river by 25 per cent; and added over three acres of grassy meadow outside of the fence line.

This summer EPCOR will begin to restore over seven acres of the site into a tree and shrub habitat, adding more trees to facilitate wildlife movement and visual screening, as well as re-introducing native grasses to enhance biodiversity.

Work will continue on the battery energy storage system, cabling, and electrical switchgear installation over the next few months. The project will move to test and commissioning late this fall.

“The kīsikāw pīsim solar farm and our partnership with Enoch Cree Nation underscores the importance EPCOR places on deepening relationships with Indigenous communities. We believe this project, and this name, is a positive step toward a sustainable future built on trust, collaboration and respect,” said Lee.

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Roy Dahl

Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of "The Native Press".
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