Two First Nations coalitions have submitted bids to build and operate a transmission line proposed to meet growing electricity needs in northeast Ontario, with the province’s final decision expected by early 2024.
Both groups have described the project as a potential step toward reconciliation. Running 260 kilometres through the territories of several First Nations, the 230-kilovolt line is proposed to connect the Wawa and Porcupine power stations, reports CBC News.
“The past 200-plus years have seen development occur within our traditional territories without our consent or our full participation,” Patricia Tangie, chief of the Michipicoten First Nation, a member of one of the coalitions, said in a media statement. “Today, our Nations are coming together in solidarity to ensure that our current citizens and future generations benefit.”
“As our ancestors before us, we will have a voice for what happens on our lands.”
The Michipicoten, Taykwa Tagamou, Chapleau Cree, and Missanabie Cree First Nations have united to bid under the Transmission Infrastructure Partnerships 9 (TIP-9) coalition, with financial backing from American power provider Ameren, as well as private investment. TIP-9 would maintain 50% ownership of the power line under the arrangement.
In another bid, The Wabun Tribal Council—representing the Mattagami, Brunswick House, Matachewan, Flying Post, and Chapleau Ojibwe First Nations—is partnering with Hydro One, Ontario’s largest electricity transmission and distribution utility. The partnership would involve 50-50 ownership of the project, split between Wabun and HydroOne. The Council says the partnership with an established energy operator will give them an edge in the bidding process, reports CBC.
“When I talk about win-win-win, you know, the First Nations are able to have a seat at the table, make decisions on such major projects that go through their territory, and benefit from the resources that are going to come out of this project,” said Taykwa Tagamou Nation Chief Bruce Archibald.
Chief Keeter Corston of the Chapleau Cree First Nation said TIP-9’s bid should be chosen because much of the work will be done on land owned by the First Nations it represents. “Government is talking about reconciliation,” he said. “The proof is in the pudding. We are up for that discussion.”
“It’s a slam dunk, a no-brainer for us to win the bid,” he added.
But regardless of which coalition wins, the end result will be a collective effort, said Wabun Tribal Council Executive Director Jason Batis.
“We’ve assessed our own opportunities, and our five communities have worked together to do that, and the other communities have done the same, and come out with a different solution,” he said. “Whoever comes out the other end will have to include all the nations who have a territorial interest, so we’re being funneled into collaboration at some point.”