Over centuries, Indigenous peoples have had a strong connection to the land they inhabit. For that reason, floods and extreme temperatures brought by climate change particularly affects First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples – who may be forced to evacuate, obstructing their right to remain in their ancestral lands and pass land-tied knowledge to future generations.
Heat pumps and new windows go a long way in helping address health concerns such as extreme heat or mould which are more common now with extreme weather patterns. However, climate-friendly retrofits are expensive and rarely accessible to homeowners living in Indigenous reserves – who already face unique barriers to accessing mainstream lending products.
For the Musqueam (xʷməθkʷəy̓əm) Indian Reserve, financing was needed to do the upfront work – including furnace disconnection and a new electrical connection, associated costs that rebates don’t cover – in order to secure government reimbursements.
Through a Shared Success partnership with the Musqueam Indian Reserve, over 100 new windows were installed across 18 homes by the end of 2022. Heat pumps were also installed in six homes that needed to replace their natural gas heating system.
The retrofits are expected to reduce annual energy consumption by 230 gigajoules and reduce CO2 emissions by an impressive 11.5 tonnes – that’s equivalent to taking about 9 gas-powered passenger vehicles off the road every year. This will result in an approximate saving of $1,000 on utility bills every year for each resident.
Community Energy Specialist Ehsan Haghi finds that the heat pumps and windows will make it easier for homeowners to sign up for home energy assessments, which help secure more funding for additional upgrades.
"Thanks to the funding from Vancity, we’re lowering costs, increasing comfort and safety, and building trust," said Ehsan Haghi, Community Energy Specialist.
This partnership is helping Vancity develop a formal granting program to support climate-friendly retrofits for on-reserve housing.
“We want to test how grants like this can keep the funds revolving, so that the money saved on energy bills can support even more retrofit projects in the community,” says Krista Loewen, Community Investment Associate at Vancity.
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