Today, we celebrate the tireless work of the Indigenous leaders of Wataynikaneyap Power, who’s efforts paid off again last week, as the Government of Canada committed $60 million towards the completion of a transmission line connecting Pikangikum First Nation to the main grid in Ontario. It is an exciting step towards the realization of the Wataynikaneyap transmission project which has been 9 years in the making.
The Pikangikum grid connection is only the first stage of Wataynikaneyap Power’s plan to connect 17 remote communities in Northern Ontario to the main electrical grid. The importance of this grid-connection for these, currently diesel dependent communities, can not be understated. The aging Diesel generators are often unreliable and result in black outs. It’s a reality Dr. Michael Ouellette, a fly in physician in Pikangikum and recent 20/20 Catalysts Program graduate, knows too well. He explains: “I would sometimes have to carry out examinations by the light of my iPhone…and we would have to get the police to shine their car lights so that Medivac planes could land”. Many of the communities are at the limits of the energy their generators can supply – restricting economic development and the building of new homes for growing populations.
These are realities for many diesel dependant communities across Canada and the Wataynikaneyap Transmission Project is but one example of how Indigenous peoples are leading the charge to use clean energy to reduce their dependence on fuel. Along the way they are reducing greenhouse gas emissions, saving governments billions of dollars paid as subsidies for their energy, creating jobs and economic development opportunities for the members, and most importantly, improving quality of life in their communities.
The Indigenous Clean Energy (ICE) Network commends the efforts of the Watay Power leaders and the Federal government for their active effort to support these initiatives. We look forward to continued Indigenous leadership in this area and nation-to-nation collaboration as we work to reduce diesel reliance in communities across Canada.
For more information on Wataynikaneya Power, visit: www.wataypower.ca
If you are interested in helping advance diesel reduction in off-grid communities, consider joining the ICE Network Action Forum on Diesel Reduction. For more information, click here.