The Ditidaht First Nation’s traditional territory is located on the southwest coast of Vancouver Island, stretching inland from Cowichan Lake, down through Nitinat Lake, and to the coast between Bonilla Point and Pachena Point. Best known today as the Ditidaht people, or in the Ditidahht language, diitiid7aa7tx, some members prefer the name of the original Nitnat Lake People, da7uu7aatx. Both mean ‘people of diitiida’, with the suffix -aa7tx meaning ‘people’.
The Ditidaht community is remote with no cell service in many areas and access to the closest town only via a 40km logging road. As is the case with many end-of-line communities, connection to the electricity grid is unreliable, and citizens must adapt their lives to frequent power outages that can last days or longer.
This MicroGrid Feasibility Study and Community Energy Planning project is unique from most Community Energy Plans in that Ditidaht’s approach to energy is centered on the goal of achieving energy sovereignty and independence from the electricity grid through the creation of a community-scale micro-grid system. As with a traditional Community Energy Plan however, the study provides the Nation with a fulsome assessment of energy efficiency options and clean energy opportunities that exist on their territorial lands. In this case Barkley Project Group conducted pre-feasibility-level assessments of solar, wind, biomass and hydropower generation.
This project faced the additional challenge of COVID-19 that required a reimagining of community engagement activities. Barkley Project Group therefore created a dedicated website to act as portal for energy-related educational materials and project updates to be shared with the community, as well as for surveys to be completed and for community to ask questions about the project via an anonymous Q&A forum.
The land, the waters, the resources, the environment have always been the source of life and spirituality of the Ditidaht People. Barkley Project Group is honored to be able to be a part of the sustainable development and energy independence of the Ditidaht First Nation.
This project has received support from the Cowichan Valley Regional District, the Union of British Columbia Municipalities, and BC Hydro.