A solar-powered greenhouse is almost up and running at the high school in the far northern Saskatchewan community of Île-à-la-Crosse, and the students aren’t just learning about solar energy — they also helped build it.
The community hired W Dusk Energy to combine traditional ways with modern ways by running their high school greenhouse by solar power.
“We want them to learn about solar energy and possibly some of those students will look at careers in this sector,” says Île-à-la-Crosse Mayor Duane Favel.
Favel says the greenhouse has been up and running for a while, maintained by the high school students. The switch to solar power has been a goal for some time.
“We built the greenhouse a few years ago and we needed ways to save energy or at least be efficient.”
Working in the greenhouse and helping put on the solar panels was a great opportunity for the students. Favel says gardening has been a part of the community for many years.
“For a northern community like Île-à-la-Crosse it’s all about food security and certainly traditionally all families in Île-à-la-Crosse had their own backyard gardens,” he says.
“These are skills that our parents and grandparents and great grandparents had and when it comes to mental health and wellness food security you know this really supports the community.”
David Isaac is the president of the W Dusk Energy, which operates out of Vancouver.
Isaac is Mi’kmaw and the company is Indigenous owned and operated.
“We work across Turtle Island coast to coast to coast more,” he says. “Recently we worked on Fisher River solar that was the first solar-powered 100 per cent community owned and First Nation owned in Canada.”
He says his company has been working with the community of Île-à-la-Crosse specifically with the school district for a few years and things were put on hold because of the pandemic. Isaac says solar panels and teaching the youth about solar energy goes beyond traditional teaching.
“This instantly modernizes the community it’s adding to a community that’s already put in a very good infrastructure but this is just a continuation of really what the overall long-term vision is happening here in Il a la Crosse.”
The greenhouse at the Île-à-la-Crosse high school is prepped and ready and should be on the grid for the new school year.
“The plan with the Il a la Crosse student division is that the students will be offered a credited program to work with the greenhouse, ”says Favel.
Mayor Favel says the students helped install the solar panels and worked with Isaac and he thinks it sparked interest among the students.
“We are hopeful that they are extremely interested to learn about solar energy.” says Favel.
Favel adds that this solar greenhouse is just phase one of the overall plan to incorporate solar power into the community.