Ambitious Wataynikaneyap plan involves 17 towns, aims to create skilled jobs in North
“It would mean to me that I am worth something.” That’s why Anthony Begg wants a job on the Wataynikaneyap Power Project. Begg, 24, is one of a dozen trainees taking a two-week “work readiness” course in Kingfisher Lake, Ont.
Located about 500 kilometres north of Thunder Bay with no road access, Kingfisher Lake — population 350 — is as remote a community as there is in this country. The training course doesn’t guarantee Begg work on the $1.6-billion project, but it brings hope to a region with an unemployment rate seven times the national average.
“It’s like a second chance to rebuild my life,” says Begg, who dropped out of school part-way through Grade 11. “I didn’t finish, because in my teenage years I was heavily in my addiction, like drinking and drugs and all that stupid stuff.” Begg ended up in jail for assault, but says prison changed him for the better. “I looked around my surroundings and I thought to myself, ‘I don’t want to be like these people. I want to work.'”
Electricity in Kingfisher Lake comes from a trio of diesel generators. This is reality for almost all of the First Nations communities that dot an area of northwestern Ontario about the size of France.
An economic study by Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) published in 2014 put the cost of supplying diesel to 21 remote communities in northwestern Ontario at around $90 million a year. Most of that is paid for by the federal government and Ontario’s electricity consumers.
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