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Wataynikaneyap Power Brings Light to Remote Indigenous Communities

Province supporting largest First Nation-led electricity project in Ontario’s history

November 24, 2022

Energy

KINGFISHER LAKE FIRST NATION – The community of Kingfisher Lake First Nation is now connected to the province’s clean electricity grid after the energization of the First Nation-led Wataynikaneyap Power Transmission Project, ending the community’s reliance on costly diesel generation. This connection will power future economic and social development in the community, including a new school opening in Fall 2023 and new housing.

“I congratulate Wataynikaneyap Power on this extraordinary achievement in bringing reliable and affordable electricity to Kingfisher Lake First Nation,” said Todd Smith, Minister of Energy. “Our government is proud to be providing support for this First-Nation led project which is connecting communities to Ontario’s clean grid, unlocking new opportunities for economic and community development.”

The Ontario Government is supporting the construction of the Wataynikaneyap Power Transmission Project through a loan of up to $1.34 billion for the project’s construction costs, enabling the project to move forward.

“Access to reliable energy will lead to many improvements for our people and the community. Schools, households, and businesses have been negatively impacted by frequent power outages. Improvements in healthcare, education, food security, and technology will no longer be constrained by the limited capacity of the diesel generators,” said Kingfisher Lake Chief Eddie Mamakwa.

Once completed the project will connect more than 18,000 people living in 16 remote First Nation communities across northwestern Ontario with a reliable, affordable supply of electricity – the largest and most far-reaching First Nation grid connection project in Ontario’s history. The project achieved its first major milestone in August 2022 with the completion and energization of a 230kV line, approximately 300 km from Dinorwic to Pickle Lake. North Caribou Lake First Nation was also connected to the provincial grid in October 2022.

“The First Nation-led Wataynikaneyap Power Transmission Project is a prime example of what can be accomplished through strong, meaningful partnerships,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Northern Development and Minister of Indigenous Affairs. “Not only will this bring economic benefits and energy certainty to the community of Kingfisher Lake First Nation, but it will also improve quality of life and open the door for new opportunities to the region.”

This project is supporting economic growth in northwestern Ontario by connecting First Nation people and communities with affordable electricity and good, local jobs. Cutting the use of local diesel-powered generation also reduces greenhouse gas emissions and noise in the community.

“It has taken many years and we have reached a significant milestone today. I am very excited that we are celebrating the connection of Kingfisher Lake First Nation,” said Margaret Kenequanash, CEO of Wataynikaneyap Power. “With a clear mandate from our Chiefs and support from our partners, connection to the provincial power grid brings reliable, clean energy to our communities through infrastructure majority-owned by 24 First Nations.”


Quick Facts

  • Kingfisher Lake First Nation, located 350 km northeast of Sioux Lookout, has a population of 560.
  • The Wataynikaneyap Project will end reliance on costly diesel generation for 16 remote First Nation communities through connection to Ontario’s clean electricity grid.
  • The project is being cost-shared with the federal government, which has committed $1.6 billion in funding at project completion.

Quotes

“We join with all residents of Kingfisher Lake First Nation in celebrating their connection to the Ontario electrical grid. This is a great accomplishment that will help create opportunities for the community. We look forward to the continued progress of the Wataynikaneyap Project and the successful connection of all 17 First Nations to the grid.”

– David Hutchens
President and Chief Executive Officer, Fortis Inc.

“The largest First Nations-led infrastructure project in Canada continues to advance north. Congratulations to the team on this achievement and I look forward to seeing more communities connected in the near future.”

– Eliezar Mckay
First Nation LP Board Chair