Bringing solar and wind power to Maskwacis
We thank Iron & Earth for contributing this guest post.
In September of 2022, the ribbon was cut on the Maskwacis Cultural College Project. This green energy training project is part of Iron & Earth’s Renewable Skills Initiative, with support from Bullfrog Power and BASF Canada.
We were pleased to work with members of the Louis Bull Tribe who took part in rapid upskilling training programs and now, not quite a year since the ribbon cutting ceremony, we’re looking back on the project and the successes we can celebrate.
In 1891, the area’s first railway station was named after a Dutch painter Meindert Hobbema, and it wasn’t until 2014 that the original name of Maskwacis was re-established. Within the community are two Cree First Nation communities – on the Ermineskin 138 reserve and another on the Samson 137 reserve. Nearby are the Samson 137A, the Louis Bull 138B, and Montana 139 reserves.
Iron & Earth, Bullfrog Power, and BASF Canada came together to get this project off the ground. Iron & Earth is committed to opening doors for opportunities specifically in the net-zero economy for Indigenous Peoples and their communities. Bullfrog Power builds a sustainable future by transforming Canada’s energy landscape. They were the first company to offer a green electricity choice for Canadian businesses and homes. BASF combines economic success with both environmental protection and social responsibility, to create chemistry for a sustainable future. With this clear overlap of vision and goals, it was an easy mix to get the Community Wind Skills Training Program off the ground.
A New Curriculum
The curriculum for the Community Wind Skills Training Program was developed through collaboration with Indigenous communities. The result was a program that not only imparted technical knowledge and skills that a career in renewable energy requires, but also Indigenous perspectives on renewable energy. (In keeping with reconciliation CTA #92)
Two solar arrays, rated at 5.28kW DC and 6kW AC, and a 1.1KW wind turbine were installed by trainees of the program, bringing power to the community. The smaller wind turbine is more flexible in terms of maintenance, and is appropriate for areas that aren’t as well suited for direct supply to the power grid. These installations stand tall and are visible from the 2A for anyone making their way to and through Maskwacis.
“Supporting community-led projects like the Community Wind Skills Training Program is an integral part of Bullfrog Power’s mission: to inspire and empower people to lead the renewable energy transition.”
– Heather Eason, Content, Communications & Brand Manager for Bullfrog Power
Bullfrog Power’s community-based green energy projects grant provides critical funding for local efforts to transition away from fossil fuels. To date, they’ve supported more than 160 projects – from solar panels on schools to community-owned wind farms. Their support for the Community Wind Skills Training Program reflects their mandate to respect Indigenous knowledge, promote environmental justice, and emphasize the social co-benefits that come with green energy.
The success of this program really speaks to the importance of such partnerships and funding, and it is a good case study for future training initiatives. Maskwacis is already benefitting from new wind and solar infrastructure, and the program participants are well equipped to replicate this achievement in other communities. With successes like this, it will become harder to ignore the overwhelming benefits that the renewable energy transition will have on workers and the environment.
“BASF Canada was thrilled to contribute to the Maskwacis project, with its focus on community skills development, and on green energy generation. Working with Iron and Earth and the Maskwacis community provided an opportunity for us to directly support an Indigenous community in its sustainability journey. Being onsite for the ceremonies on the day the wind turbine tower was raised was an incredibly special experience.”
– Eva Musso, Head of Sustainability and Government Relations, BASF Canada
There is so much to celebrate with this groundbreaking program – not only is the Maskwacis community a step closer to a green energy future, but a new cohort of renewable energy workers is well prepared to ensure that Indigenous knowledge is reflected in future sustainable energy projects.