Celebrating National Indigenous Peoples Day every day of the year
June 19, 2018 by Tanya Laing Gahr
At FortisBC, we are invested in our relationships with Indigenous communities every day, all year long. FortisBC infrastructure crosses 150 Indigenous traditional territory, we service 56 Indigenous reserve communities, and all FortisBC electric customers are located in the Okanagan and Ktunaxa Nation territories. In 2001, FortisBC developed the formal Statement of Indigenous Principles—with input, guidance and direction from several Indigenous leaders—that has been the cornerstone of the understanding, respect, open communication and trust that are key values in our relationships with Indigenous people.
For National Indigenous Peoples Day 2018, we are highlighting just a few of the ways in which FortisBC celebrates our relationships with Indigenous communities in BC.
Osoyoos Indian Band – Making homes more comfortable
The Osoyoos Indian Band (OIB) is taking steps to make the homes on reserve land more energy efficient. Most band homes are typical of First Nation housing built between the 1960s and 1980s. During that time, houses in Indigenous communities were built without the consideration for energy efficiency that is normal with new construction. With FortisBC’s financial support, the band provided energy evaluations this spring for all homes on reserve, the results of which help to determine which homes could be retrofitted to make them more energy efficient.
“With the consistent rise in the cost of power and the infeasibility of installing solar to all our homes, the only viable option we have is conservation,” said Darlene George, Manager of Housing at OIB. “True conservation doesn’t just stop with the minor and sometimes major upgrades we make to our homes but by changing our whole relationship with how we use energy on a daily basis.”
Following the evaluations, band-owned homes were retrofitted and assistance was provided to retrofit member-owned homes. FortisBC also provided rebates for insulation, air sealing, heat pumps and appliances.
Chief Isadore Trail – Recognizing a great leader
FortisBC provided funding to the Trans Canada Trail to support the installation of interpretive signs along various sections of the Chief Isadore Trail in southeastern BC. The Chief Isadore Trail takes its name from the Chief who brought peace to the Ktunaxa Nation and European settlers during a time of tension. Chief Isadore was described by Superintendent Sam Steele as the most influential chief he had ever encountered.
This gift to the Chief Isadore Trail supported the research, graphic design and manufacturing of the signs. The multilingual signs, which can be found at significant points of interest on the trail section, allow users to learn more about the history, traditions and legends of the Ktunaxa people.
First Nations Emergency Services Society – Building resiliency in Indigenous communities
We were proud to support the First Nations Emergency Services Society (FNESS) at the Safety Expo held in Esquimalt in June. The Expo brought together volunteer firefighters from Indigenous communities across the province for a firefighter competition and two days of intensive fire and equipment training. The knowledge and skills developed during the event will help Indigenous communities prepare for and respond to fires that threaten people, homes and livelihoods in remote areas.
Along with financial support, FortisBC provided educational sessions on natural gas and liquefied natural gas (LNG) to participants. The discussions and interactions from the Safety Expo were fun and positive, and we look forward to continuing our relationship with FNESS.
“We would like to send out a huge thank you to FortisBC for your participation in our Expo this past week,” said Kynan O’Rourke, Fire Services Manager with FNESS. “The demos and information were outstanding for the group and everyone got something from the presentations.”