Actions and Commitments

Call to Action # 92: Business and Reconciliation (92)

Hydro-Québec and Kahnawà:ke strike historic deal to co-own New York transmission line

April 18, 2024

Kahnawà:ke owns 10% of portion in Quebec, with option to purchase more

People sitting at a table signing a document.
Indigenous Affairs Minister Ian Lafrenière, left, Grand Chief Kahsennenhawe Sky-Deer, middle, and Hydro-Québec president and CEO Michael Sabia, right, signed the deal for their 40-year partnership on Thursday. (Paula Dayan-Perez/CBC)

CBC Indigenous: In a deal described by each party as historic, Hydro-Québec and Kahnawà:ke are now co-owners of a transmission line that will carry power from Montreal’s South Shore to New York City.

The agreement was formally signed by Kahsennenhawe Sky-Deer, Ohén:ton Í:iente ne Ratitsénhaienhs (Grand Chief) of the Kanien’kehá:ka community south of Montreal, Hydro-Québec president and CEO Michael Sabia and Ian Lafrenière, the minister responsible for relations with the First Nations and the Inuit, on Thursday. 

The partnership is set for 40 years.

The transmission line project, which carries a price tag of $1.13 billion, is expected to be operational in 2026 and allow 1,250 megawatts to be exported to New York City from the Crown corporation’s Hertel post in La Prairie, Que.

Sky-Deer said the agreement will generate revenue for Kahnawà:ke and is a testament of her community’s “resilience.”

“We know that our history with hydro wasn’t always a rosy one and nevertheless we were able to overcome some of that history and find a way forward,” Sky-Deer said, who credited her predecessor, Joseph Tokwiroh Norton, for initiating talks with the utility about this project. 

“When Hydro-Québec had informed us that they were going to put out a bid to transmit the 1,250 megawatts of electricity to New York, we jumped on the opportunity to say we want to be partners.”

According to a statement from Hydro-Québec, this is the first time the utility has “struck an agreement with a third party and an Indigenous community.”

The deal gives Kahnawà:ke a 10 per cent stake in the 58-kilometre portion of the line that runs through Quebec, which has an estimated value of $345 million. Kahnawà:ke can also purchase up to 49 per cent — an option its council will evaluate in the coming months. 

The Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke said that portion of the transmission line will run over unceded Kanien’kehá:ka land. 

“This is a new way of working with Indigenous communities across Quebec to build a sustainable future,” Sabia said. “It’s based on economic reconciliation.”

Hydro-Québec is also donating $10 million to the Kanien’kehá:ka community to help with the construction of its new cultural and arts centre. The Quebec government has put $11 million into the project.


Antoni Nerestant, Journalist

Antoni Nerestant has been with CBC Montreal since 2015. He’s worked as a video journalist, a sports reporter and a web writer, covering everything from Quebec provincial politics to the 2022 Beijing Olympics.

With files from Paula Dayan-Perez