Canada, B.C. support First Nations to power up new clean energy projects

News release

Image of a worker on a roof with solar panels. Text reads:  B.C. First Nations receive $9.8 million to power new clean energy projects

May 23, 2024 – Vancouver, British Columbia – PacifiCan

Thirty-five First Nations throughout B.C. are receiving $9.8 million in federal and provincial funding to develop clean energy projects that will help them meet their energy needs efficiently and sustainably while creating more jobs for people in their communities.

“First Nations are key partners as we work together to build cleaner, more resilient communities and power B.C.’s growing economy with renewable electricity,” said Josie Osborne, Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation. “From roof-top solar to residential heat pumps and large-scale wind generation, the projects receiving funding today will advance Indigenous clean energy and create new opportunities across the province.”

The projects are receiving funding through the BC Indigenous Clean Energy Initiative (BCICEI), a partnership between the Government of Canada, Province of British Columbia, and New Relationship Trust (NRT). This round of BCICEI support includes $7.5 million from PacifiCan and Indigenous Services Canada and approximately $2.3 million from the government of B.C through its CleanBC plan. The funding will help First Nations develop and implement clean energy generation, energy efficiency and energy storage projects, creating employment and business opportunities in their communities.

“New Relationship Trust is dedicated to bolstering First Nations’ leadership in clean energy throughout B.C. These endeavours reduce greenhouse gas emissions, propel economic growth, and foster well-being in urban and rural Indigenous communities province wide,” said Walter Schneider, Chief Executive Officer of NRT. “The BC Indigenous Clean Energy Initiative stands out as a distinctive funding program that is guided by Indigenous leadership, and fosters collaboration across various sectors, from government, to industry, to First Nations organizations.”  

The clean energy projects differ in size and scope:  from installing Air Source Heat Pumps in 70 homes for Sik-E-Dakh Band; installation of a solar PV system on a former fish farm that is being redeveloped into a research centre for regenerative forestry practices for Kwiakah First Nation; to conducting a feasibility study for a 40 mega-watt wind project for Metlakatla First Nation.

To further support First Nations clean energy projects, the Province, NRT and PacifiCan are about to start work on design of a new funding stream for BCICEI that will allow small scale renewable energy projects which are ineligible to submit to BC Hydro’s calls of power due to their size, to move forward and contribute to the power grid. The new stream will be funded with $140 million that was first announced in June 2023. This design process will kick off with an engagement period to gather ideas from interested First Nations.

For the full list of projects, please see backgrounder here.


“The transition to clean energy sources is critical to Canada’s economic future, and Indigenous peoples have a significant role to play in that future. PacifiCan proudly established the BCICEI in partnership with Indigenous leaders, industry and the Province, and it has already supported 139 Indigenous clean energy projects and created quality jobs and training opportunities in First Nations communities across B.C.
– Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of Pacific Economic Development Canada (PacifiCan)

“The BC Indigenous Clean Energy Initiative is a First Nation-led solution that will create good-paying jobs for communities. The renewable energy sector is growing across the world and this initiative will ensure Indigenous Peoples in British-Columbia can benefit from this growth. Not only will it contribute to lowering our greenhouse gas emissions, but it will only help build a economy that is fair to everyone.”
– Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services of Canada 

"The support from the New Relationship Trust through the BC Indigenous Clean Energy Initiative has been invaluable for our project. It aligns with our priority objective of conserving and protecting our ancestral lands and waters while transitioning towards a stewardship economy. With their assistance, we are transforming a former fish farm into a Centre of Excellence for the research of regenerative forestry practices. The centre is powered by eco-friendly solar energy, ensuring our operations harmonize with the majestic wilderness surrounding us."
– Frank Voelker, Band Manager and Economic Development Officer of Kwiakah First Nation

“Metlakatla Development Corporation is developing a 40 MW wind project on Mt Hays near Prince Rupert, B.C. The BC Indigenous Clean Energy Initiative funding will enable the required due diligence for Metlakatla to advance the project with a goal of submitting a bid to the 2024 Clean Power Call or an alternative off-take option within the region. The funding is very beneficial in helping MDC de-risk the project in the early development phase.” 
– Ryan Leighton, Chief Operating Officer of Metlakatla Development Corporation 

Quick facts

  • This round of BCICEI funding will receive $7.5 million from Pacific Economic Development Canada and Indigenous Services Canada and approximately $2.3 million from the government of B.C through its CleanBC plan.

  • Since it started in 2016, BCICEI has funded over 135 projects with approximately $30 million.

  • In addition to the new stream for small scale projects to contribute to the power grid, BCICEI is expanding its funding to include community clean energy planning projects. The details of the funding will be available on the NRT website soon.

  • The Strategic Partnerships Initiative (SPI) is a unique federal program administered by Indigenous Services Canada, and shared by a growing network of over 20 federal partners. Its innovative whole-of-government approach helps advance Indigenous inclusion in large, complex economic development opportunities that span a range of industry sectors across Canada. SPI provides a way to fill funding gaps that create barriers to Indigenous involvement in economic opportunities. It also promotes partnerships between federal and non-federal groups to leverage additional funding and support for economic development opportunities.

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Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation
Media Relations

Lynsey Brothers
A/Communications Manager

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