(Reposting from Kai Nagata of Dogwoodbc.ca)
On a plateau high above the Chilcotin River near Williams Lake, the largest solar energy facility in Western Canada is about to come online. Its 3,456 panels stand on the site of an abandoned sawmill, a beacon of hope for communities hammered by automation and climate change.
Owned, built and operated by the Tŝilhqot’in Nation, the solar farm will pump out 1,500 megawatt hours of electricity per year. And it will generate revenue for the nation for decades to come.
This is what climate justice looks like: Indigenous communities deciding what the needs and priorities are in their territories, then working together to build projects and programs that make our province more resilient for the long term.
It’s the kind of thing we could see more of, under the B.C. government’s new bill recognizing Indigenous rights. After decades of court victories and advocacy by Indigenous leaders, today the province took an important step to bring its laws in line with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
What is the Declaration? It’s a document adopted by 148 countries that lays out the minimum standards for the survival and dignity of Indigenous peoples. Like freedom, peace and security. Language and culture. Self-determination. These rights are not granted by the UN. They are inherent human rights that were violated by colonial land theft and residential schools.
It’s time for a new relationship between the province and Indigenous nations. We are all here on these lands to stay. And that means finding ways to work together to make this province more just and sustainable.
Keep an eye out for more good news after today’s announcement in Victoria. If you’re interested in learning more, here are some resources: