BCIT partners with industry on virtual clean-energy training platform for First Nations communities

The British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), in partnership with Siemens Canada, Denesoline Corporation (Łutsël K’é Dene First Nation’s wholly-owned subsidiary), and the Digital Supercluster, is proud to announce its investment in empowering Indigenous communities by providing an online vocational training program in Clean Energy Power Plants.

Many rural northern communities, such as Łutsël K’é Dene First Nation are powered by diesel, which can be detrimental to both the environment and the health of residents. This project will work directly with Łutsël K’é Dene First Nation in the Northwest Territories to create a virtual experiential training platform in Clean Energy Power Plants to create Indigenous capacity to operate, maintain, and upkeep clean energy microgrid systems.

The Virtual Clean-Energy Training Platform for First Nations Communities will develop a new virtual platform using BCIT’s experiential learning tools. Through this platform community learners can remotely access, navigate, and control clean energy microgrid environments in real-time, giving users hands-on experience without leaving their community.

“BCIT is honoured to be partnered in this ground breaking project that empowers Indigenous communities with vital training in the clean energy trade and is helping Canadian communities transition to greener fuels,” said Kathy Kinloch, President of BCIT. “Fulfilling work on our own important BCIT sustainability vision, this bold initiative connects education, industry, and government to power economic recovery and resilience in our province.”

This platform will train members of the Łutsël K’é Dene community for high-paying digital jobs while expediting the transition from diesel to renewable energy sources. The trainees will learn the technologies and components involved in clean energy power plants, operational and management guidelines, and best practices in upkeep and troubleshooting.

“By cultivating partnerships with industry, post-secondary, and Indigenous communities we not only strengthen the competitive advantage of citizens in the Łutsël K’é Dene First Nation but of Canada as a whole. We are stronger together, which is why connectivity, education, and economic opportunity must reach all Canadians,” said the Honourable Francois-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Industry, Science and Innovation.

“This is an investment in the people of the Łutsël K’é Dene First Nation. We look forward to learning from this incredible partnership as we explore how best to leverage technology for the benefit of rural and remote Indigenous communities,” said Sue Paish, CEO of the Digital Technology Supercluster.

Łutsel K’e, or “Place of the cisco fish,” is the only settlement on Great Slave Lake’s storied East Arm, a site of the new Thaidene Nene National Park. This scenic community of about 300 Dënesųłiné, or Chipewyan Dene, is accessible only by air, boat, or snowmobile.

This project is a total investment of $1.2 million with $700,000 invested by industry and $500,000 co-invested through the Supercluster’s Capacity Building Program. To learn more about this project, visit the Virtual Clean Energy Training Platform for First Nations Communities project page.


Dr. Hassan Farhangi, Director, Smart Microgrid Applied Research Team, BCIT

“The project team will train members of the Lutsel K’e First Nation’s community to operate and maintain clean power plants virtually. This project could also provide a similar support to the 25 other Indigenous communities and mining operations in the surrounding area who are moving away from diesel fuel in favour of clean energy”.

Faisal Kazi, President and CEO, Siemens Canada

“Siemens Canada is proud to partner with BCIT and Lutsel K’e First Nation to help deliver this virtual digital substation and to facilitate an online learning environment. This platform provides access to students to train on the latest IoT technologies and prepares them for a future in the clean energy economy.”

Haroon Bhatti, Innovations Manager, Denesoline Corporation

“As the business development arm of the Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation’s (LKDFN), Denesoline Corporation will help facilitate the training of community members by providing students with a boardroom, internet services, study supplies (laptop, pen, papers, books, etc) and other key areas of support. Denesoline Corporation aims to make Lutsel Ke the model remote community in green energy and environmentally friendly practices. We will provide the stakeholders in this project with decisive and effective Band Council Resolutions for community and infrastructure development on the LKDFN’s ancestral lands.”

About the British Columbia Institute of Technology

For more than 55 years, the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) has been delivering flexible, relevant, and future-proof education that prepares learners to provide applied solutions to industry challenges – across BC and around the world. With five campuses and about 45,000 students enrolled each year, BCIT is one of BC’s largest post-secondary institutes. This project is led by the BCIT Smart Microgrid Applied Research Team (SMART) who converge information technology, electrical engineering, communication engineering, and computing fields to develop prototypes and solutions for complex applied research problems. SMART conducts applied R&D in emerging and next generation technologies and helps stimulate BC’s IT industry through joint, collaborative industry, academic, and government research. Learn more at www.bcit.ca

About Digital Technology Supercluster:

Ahead of the curve starts here. The Digital Supercluster is building a better Canada by growing Canadian businesses, creating a digitally skilled workforce and positively impacting lives across our Country. We accelerate the development and adoption of digital technologies that keep Canadians healthy, address climate change and drive economic productivity. Through a powerful combination of co-investment, cross-sector collaboration, IP creation and digital talent development, we unlock the potential of Canadians to lead and succeed in the Digital world. For more information, visit: https://www.digitalsupercluster.ca/

About Siemens Canada

Siemens Canada is a technology company focused on industry, infrastructure, transport, and healthcare. From more resource-efficient factories, resilient supply chains, and smarter buildings and grids, to cleaner and more comfortable transportation as well as advanced healthcare, the company creates technology with purpose, adding real value for customers since 1912. By combining the real and the digital worlds, Siemens empowers its customers to transform their industries and markets, to transform the everyday for billions of people. Siemens also owns a majority stake in the publicly listed company Siemens Healthineers, a globally leading medical technology provider shaping the future of healthcare. In addition, Siemens holds a minority stake in Siemens Energy, a global leader in the transmission and generation of electrical power. As of September 30, 2021, the company has approximately 2,500 employees from coast-to-coast and 24 office and production facilities across Canada. Further information is available at www.siemens.ca.

About Denesoline Corporation Limited

Denesoline Corporation is the NWT’s most successful Indigenous pwned company. It has been in business for over 20 years in Canada’s far north, and is located in Yellowknife, NWT, the diamond capital of North-America.

Denesoline is the three-time recipient of Industry Canada’s 2019, 2020, and 2021 Canada Award for Business Excellence, on behalf of the Governor General of Canada. Denesoline Corporation helped end a decades-long monopoly enjoyed by the largest oil company in the world at the NWT diamond mines, by saving the largest diamond mine in Canada millions of dollars on technically superior lubricants. Besides ice road construction and lubricants, Denesoline also supplies the following products and services to the diamond mines in NWT – Aviation, Bulk Freight, Diamond Core Drilling, Electrical and Mechanical Services, Environmental Services, Explosives, General Freight, Heavy-Duty Tires, Heavy Haul Freight, Heliflight, Mining, Mine Site Construction and Maintenance, Staffing, and Steel Fabrication. Denesoline also provides firefighting services to the government and invests in real estate. And as a testament to its overall performance, Denesoline is the only indigenous-owned company in NWT to have been operationally profitable in each of the past five years and to have no debt at all. Denesoline is also the only indigenous-owned company, representing an impacted community, to successfully negotiate a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on the multi-billion-dollar Jay Pipe Extension project with Dominion Diamond.

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