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Business and Reconciliation (92)

4 northern Ontario First Nations form coalition to bid on new power line

September 11, 2023

The power line will connect the Wawa and Porcupine transformer stations in northeastern Ontario

A row of transformers in-between two clusters of trees.
The Transmission Infrastructure Partnerships 9 (TIP-9) coalition is bidding to build a 260-kilometre power line in northeastern Ontario. (Colin Butler/CBC)

CBC News: Four northern Ontario First Nations have formed a coalition to bid on a power line project that would pass through their traditional territories. 

Taykwa Tagamou Nation, Michipicoten First Nation, Chapleau Cree First Nation and Missanabie Cree First Nation have come together to create the Transmission Infrastructure Partnerships 9 (TIP-9) coalition to build a 230-kilovolt transmission line.

It will cover 260 kilometres—through their traditional territories—connecting the Wawa Transformer Station and the Porcupine Transformer Station in northeastern Ontario. The project is meant to help parts of northeastern Ontario meet growing electricity demand.

The coalition has financial backing from American electric power provider Ameren, as well as private investment, and would maintain 50 per cent ownership of the power line. The First Nations would then have the opportunity for full ownership of the line, under the agreement.

Michipicoten Chief Patricia Tangie said they expect the province to make a decision on the power line contract late this year, or by early 2024. Tangie said the province did not do a good job in the past of consulting with First Nations on similar development projects.

But this coalition arrives at a turning point in that relationship, she added. “We’re at a place and time now where the worldview of the Indigenous people has changed and we are coming to a stronger understanding of the settler mindset,” she said.

Chance for reconciliation

Taykwa Tagamou Nation Chief Bruce Archibald told CBC News they view the project as an opportunity for reconciliation with the provincial government. “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,” Archibald said.

Chapleau Cree First Nation Chief Keeter Corston said First Nations control over the project would allow them to minimize the environmental impact in their territories. “We want to really protect the land and that’s our obligation,” he said. “And to the best of our ability and make the least possible, you know, footprint as we can.”

With files from Erika Chorostil