Energy Training for Indigenous Youth in Northern Ontario

Frank McKay at Watay Power Announcement
Frank McKay at Watay Power Announcement

THUNDER BAY – Parliamentary Secretary Paul Lefebvre, on behalf of Amarjeet Sohi, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, today announced $400,000 in funding over six years for the Energizing Youth: Capacity and Skill-Building Program. The program will create pathways for interested youth to pursue employment in the clean energy field among 24 First Nation partners in Northern Ontario, 16 of which are remote, diesel-reliant First Nation communities.

The best ideas for rural and remote Indigenous communities come from the people who live there. And the youth in these communities have the passion and creativity to drive the clean energy transition. That is why Canada is investing in opportunities for Indigenous youth to enhance their energy knowledge and technical skills, which will prepare them to lead the way to a clean energy future.

The program will focus on teaching participants about the fundamentals of electricity transmission and distribution and provide them with job-shadowing opportunities and technical training. Its curriculum will incorporate traditional knowledge from participating communities and cross-cultural sharing.

Local education organizations will partner with Opiikapawiin Services LP, the Ontario Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, and Wataynikaneyap Power to develop and deliver program materials. The program graduates will be positioned to access employment opportunities in clean energy, including in support of the Wataynikaneyap Power Transmission Project, and lead future diesel reduction initiatives within their communities.

The Energizing Youth: Capacity and Skill-Building Program is funded through the Clean Energy in Rural and Remote Communities (CERRC) program, part of Canada’s $180+ billion Investing in Canada infrastructure plan.

“This project will provide youth with the skills necessary to assume leadership roles in their communities and to develop and manage clean energy initiatives that incorporate sustainable practices and community values. This investment will encourage clean energy training and education and promote local employment opportunities,” says Paul Lefebvre, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources.

“Community engagement is vital to the communities having ownership of the process, and we are excited and looking forward to hearing more feedback and input from the youth through the Energizing Youth Network on their perspective of the transmission line. Capacity building and job shadowing will provide a good foundation for youth to get involved and start their pathway to meaningful careers,” says Lucie Edwards, CEO of Opiikapawiin Services LP.

Quick Facts:

CERRC is an integral part of Canada’s efforts to help remote communities reduce their reliance on diesel fuel for heat and power, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The program is providing up to $220 million over six years to communities in the North.

Through the Investing in Canada infrastructure plan, the Government of Canada is investing more than $180 billion over 12 years in public transit projects, green infrastructure, social infrastructure, trade and transportation routes and Canada’s rural and northern communities.
Following the connection of Pikangikum First Nation in 2018, the Wataynikaneyap Transmission Power Project is working to connect 16 more remote First Nations currently on diesel generators to the provincial transmission grid. This project is supported by a $1.6-billion federal and provincial investment.

Wataynikaneyap Power is a licensed transmission company, regulated by the Ontario Energy Board and majority-owned by a partnership of 24 First Nation communities in partnership with private investors led by Fortis Inc.

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