Inside the Indigenous-led power line deal that put 17 First Nations on the grid – by Wendy Stueck (Globe and Mail – October 14, 2021)

By the time Wataynikaneyap Power announced, in October, 2019, that it had locked in financing to start building an 1,800-kilometre transmission line to connect 17 First Nations communities to the Ontario power grid, Margaret Kenequanash had earned a chance to catch her breath.

A member of the North Caribou Lake First Nation, Ms. Kenequanash had been pursuing the transmission project for more than a decade, first as a community leader and, since 2017, as Wataynikaneyap’s chief executive officer.

But as construction picked up in early 2020, the pandemic struck, forcing Ms. Kenequanash to launch an intense new round of “I never, ever imagined that I would be sitting at my kitchen table for the last year, or most of it, working on an up-to-$1.9-billion project to energize the community,” Ms. Kenequanash said last week.

“That never ever crossed my mind. But we’re doing it.” The project, first proposed in 2008, will provide electricity to communities that currently rely on diesel-powered generators. Wataynikaneyap – “the line that brings light” in Anishinaabemowin – is majority-owned by 24 First Nations, and it’s being built under guiding principles they developed.

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