EPCOR unveils Indigenous name for Edmonton river valley solar farm

A controversial solar farm built in Edmonton’s river valley is set to open in a few months and now has a name.

On Wednesday, EPCOR revealed the name was decided at a traditional Indigenous naming ceremony in January.

The 51-acre farm will officially be called kisikaw pisim, meaning daylight sun.

“(It) just speaks towards the sun, how important it is to us, how much of a symbol when we get up everyday we give thanks to the sun — another sunrise — and when we go to sleep at night, it’s one of the last things to say goodnight to us, so it’s really important to us in our culture and it really speaks to how important the sun is to us in our culture,” explained Enoch Cree Nation Chief Billy Morin.

Morin said it was EPCOR that suggested the traditional naming ceremony, a move he deeply appreciated.

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“It’s not a bit of a lottery or it’s not pick a name out of a hat — choosing a name. It had a traditional ceremony that was very powerful,” said EPCOR president and CEO Stuart Lee.

“And for someone who has not participated in a ceremony like that before, I walked away having a better appreciation of the culture.”

Read more: Edmonton city council votes 7-6 to allow large solar farm project to go ahead

Morin said names are important and it means a great deal to him to see more Cree words being used throughout the city.

“It truly highlights how our young people, who lost a lot of that language, are now seeing it here on a sign,” Morin explained.

“They’re seeing it everywhere and it helps my three younger sons when we walk these trails and we drive across that bridge — I get to say ‘kisikaw pisim.’ I never got to say that to them before.”

Both Morin and the Enoch Cree Nation have not always been so supportive of the project.

At first, the nation was vocally opposed to the farm, which stands on traditional Enoch Cree Nation territory.

Morin said conversations with EPCOR and the City of Edmonton changed his mind.

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Read more: Enoch Cree Nation, EPCOR formalize agreement to work together in spirit of reconciliation

Others, including wilderness groups, raised concerns about the ecological impact of the development.

EPCOR announced it would transfer 31.5 acres of land to the City of Edmonton to extend its trail network.

It said it will also add tress and shrubs to the site to help wildlife.

The last of the 30,350 solar panels was installed in March.

When it is up and running, the project is expected to be able to offer 50 per cent of the power needed for the water treatment plant.

Lee admitted supply chain issues have delayed construction by a few months, but the power is expected to be flowing by the end of September, potentially at the same time as the solstice.

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A controversial solar farm built in Edmonton’s river valley is set to open in a few months. Breanna Karstens-Smith/Global News

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A controversial solar farm built in Edmonton’s river valley is set to open in a few months. Breanna Karstens-Smith/Global News

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A controversial solar farm built in Edmonton’s river valley is set to open in a few months. Breanna Karstens-Smith/Global News

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