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Energy Peers in Indigenous Communities
(EPIC) Network

A Renewable Energy and Electrification Capacity–Building Opportunity for Indigenous Communities to Fund Community Energy Champions

About the Initiative

The Energy Peers in Indigenous Communities (EPIC) Network is a program to build capacity, knowledge and skills related to renewable energy and electrification in Indigenous communities in British Columbia.

The EPIC Network program supports a cohort of participants (called Community Energy Champions) with a peer-to-peer cohort and peer mentorship approach to building and sharing knowledge, networking and engagement, skills development and training on renewable energy.

The program provides capacity-building funds to Indigenous communities to advance their energy goals related to community renewable energy and electrification. Funding is available for eight (8) communities to hire an energy champion. The funding is to build knowledge and skills related to small-scale (under 100kW) renewable energy projects in Indigenous on–grid communities in British Columbia (BC). On-grid is defined as those communities that are connected to the North American electrical grid.

Interested Indigenous on-grid communities are encouraged to reach out with any questions about the program to:

Darell Gaddie, EPIC Network Lead

T: 236 888–1298 I E:

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Who Can Apply

BC First Nations (on-grid communities)

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EPIC Network Program Timeline

December 1, 2022 – March 31, 2025

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EPIC Network Program Partners

Our trusted program partners provide strategic guidance and oversight of the EPIC Network program.:

  • New Relationship Trust (Learn more)
  • Natural Resources Canada’s Smart Renewables and Electrification Pathways Program
    (Learn more | Media release on EPIC)
  • Province of BC, Ministry of Energy, Mines, and Low Carbon Innovation
  • BC Hydro
  • FortisBC

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EPIC Network Program Goals

  • To increase the capacity of Indigenous communities in BC to progress their community energy goals and to participate in the renewable energy sector.
  • To provide opportunities for Indigenous communities to increase their energy resilience and to realize their energy independence and sovereignty goals.
  • To empower Indigenous communities to take climate action to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
  • To maximize community social and economic benefits of clean energy initiatives.

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EPIC Network Program Rationale

Indigenous representatives have indicated that community readiness is a significant barrier to implementing renewable energy projects. To enhance community readiness, the EPIC Network program focuses on capacity building through a peer-to-peer cohort networking model. The Program is designed to be flexible by providing training and support for different stages of “readiness” of communities and participants.

Peer-to-peer learning offers benefits outside the realm of traditional educational environments, such as increased cooperation and collaboration, knowledge-sharing, relationship-building and social benefits. In addition, being part of a cohort is an effective method of encouraging cross-community sharing and mutual support. These efforts aim to enhance equity, diversity and inclusion by increasing the representation of Indigenous groups in the renewable energy sector.

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How the EPIC Network Program Works

Participating communities will complete contribution agreements with FBC to fund a Community Energy Champion until March 31, 2025. Participating communities are responsible for recruiting and hiring their Community Energy Champion, with support from the Network Lead.

To enhance the equity, diversity and inclusion of participants, FBC will support flexibility with part-time or flexible positions for the energy champion role to encourage gender balance and Culturally Relevant Gender Application Protocols (CRGAP), developed by the Native Women’s Association of Canada. Communities may elect to hire community energy champions to live and work in community, or to live and work remotely, depending on community needs and preferences.

Travel subsidies and stipends for childcare will be available to cohort members to support them in attending training and annual gatherings, to enhance accessibility, and to increase the potential diversity of participants by removing financial and other potential barriers to participation.

The Network Lead will support the Community Energy Champion cohort as a whole to foster connection, build trusting relationships, and create meaningful learning and networking opportunities.

The Network Lead will work collaboratively with individual Community Energy Champions to develop their annual workplans and individual training plans to support their ongoing work to advance their community’s renewable energy and electrification priorities.

Workplans and training plans could include coordinating community energy planning and implementation, demand side management, community engagement, renewable energy and electrification feasibility studies, project planning, design and engineering, project funding and project implementation.

The Network Lead will work towards delivering culturally sensitive training. This will include considering appropriate ceremony, engaging with Indigenous youth and Elders and other cultural elements as appropriate and supportive of creativity in community engagement.

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Capacity Building for Community Energy Champions

Capacity building activities for Community Energy Champions include:

  • networking opportunities with community energy champions, such as monthly team meetings and annual in-person gatherings
  • customized training and skills development
  • one-on-one mentorships with Indigenous subject matter experts
  • webinars on priority electrification and small-scale renewable energy topics

Training and skills development includes:

1)     Individual, customized training, and skills development

The Indigenous Network Lead will work with the energy champions to develop annual training and skills development plans based on the distinct priorities, needs and preferences of each community. Participants will define the outcome that they are aiming to achieve, take individual leadership and move at their own pace, with annual targets for individual training hours, based on community priorities and a menu of training options. There is an individual training budget for each network member.

2)     Group training

Group training will include 2–3 webinars per year on priority electrification and renewable energy topics, with input from the Community Energy Champions. Group training could also include professional development in areas such as project management, fundraising and grant writing, and Indigenous community engagement

3)     One-on-One mentorships

With Indigenous energy champions or industry subject matter experts on specific topics, such as community energy planning, renewable energy and energy storage project planning, energy efficiency, energy audits, heat pumps and solar PV installation.

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Benefits of Renewable Energy and Electrification

Indigenous communities can benefit from small-scale (non-utility scale) renewable energy project ownership (aggregate nameplate capacity of no more than 100 kW), and from fuel switching for heating (e.g., from oil, propane or natural gas to electrification), such as through heat pump installations. Some of these accrued benefits include:

  • lower electricity costs as a result of renewable energy project ownership
  • increased energy resilience
  • increased energy independence and sovereignty
  • socioeconomic benefits from energy sector job creation, such as employment opportunities resulting from installation, operations and maintenance training and work
  • reduced greenhouse gas emissions as a result of fuel switching
  • improved air quality and health benefits as a result of fuel switching

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How to Apply

If you are in an Indigenous community in BC that is connected to the grid and looking for capacity support to advance renewable energy or electrification project(s), please reach out to learn more about the EPIC Network program:

Darell Gaddie, MBA, EPIC Network Lead

T: 236 888–1298 I E:

Darell will guide you though a series of questions to get an understanding of your community’s interests and readiness.

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Enrolment and Selection Process

While we would like to have the funding to accept all interested on-grid Indigenous communities into the EPIC Network program, we unfortunately only have enough budget to fund eight (8) community energy champions.

Priority will be given to communities that:

  • have an expressed interest in renewable energy and/or electrification
  • are interested in capacity funding to hire a Community Energy Champion to advance their community energy goals and
  • have the community capacity to recruit, hire, manage and support an EPIC Community Energy Champion

The EPIC Network Program Partners will assess and evaluate all expressions of interest and recommend up to eight communities based on the priorities listed above. Communities will then be integrated into the EPIC Network on a gradual basis based on their readiness, and to allow the EPIC Network Lead to provide support during the onboarding process.

Enrolment Timelines:

  • Round 1: December, 2022 to March 31, 2023 – up to three (3) communities
  • Round 2: April to September 2023 – up to five (5) additional communities
  • Round 3: open ended until a total of eight (8) communities have enrolled

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Administration

Fraser Basin Council

 

 

 


The Fraser Basin Council administers the EPIC Network under the terms of an agreement with Natural Resources Canada and works in collaboration with Indigenous communities, the New Relationship Trust, the Province of BC, FortisBC and BC Hydro.

We are pleased to have Darell Gaddie join the FBC team as the Network Lead to oversee the program and work with each of the participating communities. Darell brings with him experience as a community support specialist in British Columbia and other Indigenous communities in Canada. Darell is a member of the Cowessess First Nation in southern Saskatchewan. As with other energy projects over the years, the FBC team looks forward to serving Indigenous communities as they lead on innovative renewable energy solutions.

Funding Acknowledgements

Our thanks the New Relationship Trust, the Province of British Columbia’s CleanBC program, BC Hydro and FortisBC for their generous in-kind support and guidance for the program.

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New Relationship Trust

 

 Natural Resources Canada

Federal funding for this project is provided by Natural Resources Canada’s Smart Renewables and Electrification Pathways Program, a $1.56-billion program that provides support for smart renewable energy and electrical grid modernization projects, including projects that support capacity building. See also Natural Resource Canada's media release on funding for the EPIC program.

 

 

 Province of British Columbia | CleanBC

 

BC Hydro

 

 FortisBC

Our Vision

Social well-being supported by a vibrant economy and sustained by a healthy environment.

About the Fraser Basin Council

The Fraser Basin Council (FBC) is a charitable non-profit organization that brings people together to advance sustainability in the Fraser River Basin and throughout BC. Established in 1997, FBC is a collaboration of four orders of government (federal, provincial, local and First Nations) along with those from the private sector and civil society. We work with people in multiple sectors, helping them find collaborative solutions to today’s issues through a commitment to the social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainability. Our focus is on healthy water and watersheds, action on climate change and air quality and strong, resilient communities and regions.

FBC Project and
Partner Sites

Plug in BC:
www.pluginbc.ca

Emotive:
www.emotivebc.ca

ReTooling for Climate Change:
www.retooling.ca

FBC Youth:
fbcyouthprogram.ca

Climate Action Toolkit:
www.toolkit.bc.ca 

Salmon-Safe BC
www.salmonsafe.ca

Contact Us

FBC has offices in Vancouver, Kamloops, Williams Lake and Prince George. We also have staff located in Abbotsford and Vernon.

To reach us, see FBC Offices and FBC Staff.

Our main office is:

Fraser Basin Council
1st Floor, 470 Granville Street
Vancouver, BC V6C 1V5

T: 604 488-5350
F: 604 488-5351
E: 

We are grateful at the Fraser Basin Council Society to live and work on the unceded ancestral
territories of the Indigenous Nations of British Columbia.