The Energy Peers in Indigenous Communities (EPIC) Network is a program to build capacity, knowledge and skills related to renewable energy 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. 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:
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.
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 priorities.
Workplans and training plans could include coordinating community energy planning and implementation, demand side management, community engagement, renewable energy 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.
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 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 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.
Indigenous communities can benefit from small-scale (non-utility scale) renewable energy project ownership (aggregate nameplate capacity of no more than 100 kW). 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
If you are in an Indigenous community in BC that is connected to the grid and looking for capacity support to advance renewable energy 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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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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.