Members of the Secwepemc Nation known as the Tiny House Warriors are completing the installation of solar panels on a tiny house they’ve built to put directly in the path of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Expansion pipeline.“The solar panels we installed on the tiny house today will stand in the path of Kinder Morgan’s pipeline to model the type of energy our communities need and that our children’s future depends on,” said Kanahus Manuel, a leader with the Tiny House Warriors and member of the Secewepemc Women’s Warrior Society. “By harnessing the power of the the sun, we are telling Kinder Morgan and the Trudeau government that our energy systems can help nurture life instead of destroying it. This is what Indigenous consent on energy projects and what climate leadership should look like.”Each of the four panels installed is 265 watts. They will be connected to the inside of the home to produce solar energy for household use.
The panels were donated by Lubicon Solar, which also provided onsite support for the installation.The Lubicon Cree is a First Nation in the heart of the tar sands in Northern Alberta.The Nation installed solar panels in their own community in 2015 after experiencing a 2011 oil spill that was the worst Alberta had seen in decades.The partnership is the latest example of growing Nation-to-Nation resistance to toxic oil projects across Turtle Island (North America), including tar sands pipelines and the Dakota Access pipeline.“I am from a community impacted by tar sands extraction and I’ve seen first-hand the devastation a spill can have on people’s health, rivers and the land,” said Melina Laboucan-Massimo of Lubicon Solar. “I’ve also seen the hope that solar energy and green jobs can bring to Indigenous communities. The solarization of these tiny houses provides the practical energy needs as well renewable energy solutions this world needs instead of more tar sands pipelines like Kinder Morgan’s. From the heart of the tar sands all along the route to Kinder Morgan’s supertanker port, Indigenous communities are standing together to find solutions that honour the Earth.”The solar installer assisting the Tiny House Warriors, Brett Isaac, is from the Najavo Nation in the United States and designed the mobile solar units that were taken to Standing Rock last year.“Tiny houses, especially those powered by solar energy and owned by communities, send a powerful message about how we need to find ways of living that are in tune with the needs of our planet,” Isaac said. “From Standing Rock to Secwepemc territory to the tar sands, Indigenous communities are finding ways to innovate and resist corporate and colonial control.”
The Tiny House Warriors have built two tiny houses out of an intended 10, all based on the design used in Standing Rock.A third house is being constructed by supporters in Victoria.The homes are symbols of resistance to the pipeline but also symbols of hope and resilience that will eventually provide housing and reconnection with the land for members of the Secwepemc Nation.Earlier this month, a report commissioned earlier this month by the Secwepemc Nation, whose land Kinder Morgan’s new pipeline is slated to cross, further details risks related to Indigenous assertions of their rights and title over unceded land.