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Solar power a bright idea on the land
Elementary school's camp receives $10,000 grant for project

Laura Busch
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, June 28, 2012

INUVIK
Elementary students involved in Sir Alexander Mackenzie School's on-the-land camp are pursuing a bright idea to offset generator-power using solar panels.

NNSL photo/graphic

Andrea Hansen, back row, from left, Delanie Elias, Maddysen Kingmiaqtuq, Kristen Harder, Bob Ball, Brandon Jensen, Greg Connell, Halayna Cockney-Goose, Derrien Firth, front row, from left, Mikayla Kikoak, Jarvis Mitchell, and Jason Dayman pose with the cheque received from British Petroleum at Sir Alexander Mackenzie School's Nunami camp last Wednesday. - Laura Busch/NNSL photo

Thanks to a $10,000 grant recently received through British Petroleum (BP) Canada's A+ energy program, students and teachers will install the eco-friendly power source at the Nunami camp next fall.

Nunami is the Inuvialuit word for "cabin" though the camp had humbler beginnings, said assistant principal Jason Dayman.

"It started with tent frames and we just slowly started getting it up and running," he said.

The camp now consists of two cabins one newly constructed. The site is used for various on-the-land activities, such as trapper training programs, fishing trips, a fall moose hunt, and various other cultural activities.

"Basically, what we try to do is bring local people with us, elders, and have them teach the kids about traditional ways," said Dayman. "We hope to teach the kids what it used to be like to live on the land how hard you have to work."

The idea to add a solar project to the camp's activities came when Dayman heard about the A+ energy program offered by BP.

The program, which promotes energy-related educational programs, has given out $3 million to support various projects since its inception in 2007.

The company estimates the program has involved roughly 60,000 students, said Amanda Balint, public affairs adviser for BP.

"We believe that the solutions to the energy challenges tomorrow will be solved by the thinking of the children and the teachers of today," she said. "It's really great to see how creative they are with their projects."

The solar project grant is the first to be awarded in the Beaufort Delta, or outside of the province of Alberta for that matter, said Andrea Hansen, community relations adviser for BP in the Beaufort Delta.

"To have opened this up to the North and the Beaufort Delta region and have our first application was really exciting," said Hansen, who was born and raised in Inuvik.

Having the money go towards and alternative-energy project is especially nice, said Dayman.

"In the day and age we're in, we're trying to change our ways and make less of an impact in regards to fossil fuels. I think anything in that direction is beneficial," Dayman said.

Bringing students in to help install the solar power system will hopefully draw more attention to the potential of solar power in the Delta, where camps are normally run on diesel or gas generators, he said, adding he has seen other camps in the area with solar electrical systems.

"Instead of always learning from books and learning in the school classroom, we've extended that to the land," he said. "We know that students enjoy those opportunities and definitely learn from them."

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