PIKANGIKUM FIRST NATION, ONT. — Wataynikaneyap Power announced last month that Pikangikum First Nation became the first of 16 northwestern Ontario First Nation communities to be connected to Ontario’s power grid as part of a project that will eventually provide power to over 14,000 customers.
Wataynikaneyap Power is a licensed transmission company equally owned by 22 First Nation communities, with a total control of 51 per cent, including Pikangikum, in partnership with Fortis Inc., with equity in the remaining 49 per cent, said releases issued in late December.
The federal government committed to a $1.6-billion investment in Wataynikaneyap Power in March of last year, following a $60.2-million allocation for the Pikangikum leg announced in 2017.
The other communities are expected to be connected to the Ontario grid by 2023.
Pikangikum is located approximately 100 kilometres northwest of Red Lake. Prior to its connection, the community was powered by diesel fuel and was one of Ontario’s largest off-grid First Nation communities, with a population of over 2,500 people.
“Our elders signed the treaty to share in the benefits of any major development that occurs in the homelands. Our people are leading the pathway by owning major infrastructure with a vision of bringing light to our communities. We celebrate with Pikangikum this remarkable achievement. Today, the line that brings light shines in Pikangikum and brings us one step closer to energizing across the north and realizing the hopes of our people and future generations,” said Wataynikaneyap Power CEO Margaret Kenequanash in the statement.