← Back



Courtesy of VREC


Art can make or break science projects. A solar energy project in Nunavut is making use of the creativity of local youth and Elders by incorporating art installations into a community solar project, in order to maximize involvement and acceptance within the community. Through this initiative, they are endeavoring to unite traditional knowledge and cultural values with state-of-the-art renewable energy technology. [1]

Vancouver Renewable Energy (VREC) staff installed a 9.3 kW photovoltaic system on the hamlet’s Community Hall. Three weeks later, the installation of 32 290-Watt panels has offset 590 kWh of electrical consumption, equal to $577 savings on the municipal power bill. This is the most northern grid-tied solar energy system in the Americas. 

The solar energy system uses AP Systems 3-phase micro-inverters and SolarWorld mono-crystalline modules. 

In addition to solar, the installation is paired with a mural celebrating light, both from the sun and from qulliqs, traditional Inuit lamps that use animal fat as for fuel. Ikaarvik Youth Researcher Alex Anaviapik is designing the mural with input from the community and will paint it once warm weather returns next summer. 

The project was made possible after a group of the Ikaarvik Youth Researchers in Pond Inlet conceived the idea for community solar and applied for funding for the install and in-kind donations to help with transportation and logistics. A research icebreaker contracted by the Arctic Kingdom tour company delivered the panels and racking, which saved immensely on shipping costs. [2]

Through this, the Pond Inlet project will not only provide clean power, but embody Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (IQ) social values, in particular care for the environment and the community, as well as finding new and creative solutions to challenges. 

The engagement of local artists, youth and Elders is unique in the Canadian North for a clean technology project. From its inception the project was community-driven, with strong local involvement and sense of ownership. 

As part of his talk on Sustainable Energy Development in the Canadian Arctic, Lawrence Keyte presented the Pond Inlet solar project at the Arctic Science Summit Week in April, 2017.  He argued for a closer collaboration with artists in Arctic clean technology projects, and stressed the vital importance of aligning northern energy decisions with local cultural values.

He ended his talk with a quote from an Elder in Fort McPherson, Northwest Territories about the inclusion of traditional Indigenous knowledge:

“Anything that can be connected to our way of life, our culture, our tradition, would be really good because people will go back to having that pride, get back their self-esteem. When I see these projects that mean connection with our way of life, it makes me feel happy. It makes me feel that things can go on". [1]


[1]       Friedrich, Doris. “Integrating Art with Northern Science and Technology.” High North News, October 25, 2018. https://www.highnorthnews.com/en/integrating-art-northern-science-and-technology.

[2]      “VREC Installs Northernmost Community Solar Project.” VREC Solar, November 21, 2018. https://www.vrec.ca/blog/2017/09/20/vrec-nothernmost-community-solar/.

Additional information:

Natalie, Carter, Dawson Jackie, Joyce Jenna, Ogilvie Annika, and Weber Melissa. “Artic Corridors and Northern Voices.” Arctic Corridors. University of Ottawa, 2018. https://www.arcticcorridors.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/UofO_CommReport_Pond-Inlet_2_FINAL_LO-2.pdf.

“Nunavut Community’s Solar Panels a Target for Vandalism.” Nunatsiaq News, March 22, 2018. https://nunatsiaq.com/stories/article/65674nunavut_communitys_solar_panels_a_target_for_vandalism/.

“Projects Funded by Polar Knowledge Canada, 2017-19.” Polar Knowledge Canada. Government of Canada, 2019. https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/polar-polaire/documents/pdf/projects%202017-19%20_Eng.pdf.

Scott, David J. “New Knowledge for the North and the World: a Bright Future for Polar Science in Canada.” CSPC, October 29, 2020. https://sciencepolicy.ca/posts/new-knowledge-for-the-north-and-the-world-a-bright-future-for-polar-science-in-canada/.

Project Title: Attakalik Community Hall Solar Mural
Artists:  Pond Inlet Community, Polar Knowledge Canada
Year: 2017

Place: Pond Inlet, Nunavut

scroll to top