It started in 2016, or the 1970s, or the 1850s, or in deep time, depending on who you ask. For the founders of Swiilawiid Sustainability Society, it was probably 2012 and Haida Gwaii communities had come together to stop a massive oil pipeline and tanker project that threatened Haida Territories, identity, and ways of life. After celebrating that win, and with endless more fossil fuel proposals underway, a group of Haida citizens and allies decided to dedicate their efforts to Island energy independence.
See Hlk’yak’ii: a brief timeline of Haida Gwaii.
Knowing what kind of energy future they DIDN’T want in their territories, the group started Project 0% Diesel: an initiative to see Haida Gwaii become energy independent. In their first years, Swiilawiid focused on sharing stories about regenerative energy and amplified the many projects and efforts that were already underway. They looked to other Indigenous communities that had embraced renewable power, and Swiilawiid helped to see solar installations at two village youth centres, and at three off-grid youth rediscovery camps. If you ask the team what they’re most proud of accomplishing, these youth-centered renewable energy projects rise to the top.
Committed to community engagement and accountability, Swiilawiid co-hosted an Island-wide renewable energy symposium with the Council of the Haida Nation in 2018. At this gathering, all Island governments committed to the goal of energy sovereignty and Haida and Island citizens surfaced two themes: Haida Gwaii must look to the past to define the path forward, and local ownership and decision-making is a must to achieve a just transition.
Today, the place-based social profit continues to adapt and invest time, energy, effort and resources needed to achieve this shared goal. Their efforts uplift 4 strategic priorities:
- Identify and address inequality and barriers to regenerative energy and solutions
- Engage All-Islands’ communities around renewable energy to realize the shared vision
- Build and strengthen strategic partnerships that help to achieve 0% Diesel
- Develop tangible renewable energy resources that grow the movement
Yahguudang | Yahgudáng (Respect for all beings)
Ad kyaanang | .Ahl kyáanáng tláagang (Ask permission first)
Tll yahda (Making it right)
Gina ‘waadluxan gud ad kwaagid | Ginn ‘wáadluwaan gud .ahl kwáagíidang (Everything depends on everything else)