Muskrat Dam FN – “Things are Starting to Have a More Positive Focus”

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Master Corporal Shaun Kakegamic uses a wood splitter to prepare firewood for elders in Muskrat Dam. credit Sergeant Emily Beardy, Canadian Rangers
Master Corporal Shaun Kakegamic uses a wood splitter to prepare firewood for elders in Muskrat Dam. credit Sergeant Emily Beardy, Canadian Rangers

MUSKRAT DAM FN – Over the last two weeks, Muskrat Dam has been in a state of emergency and on the verge of a potential crisis situation regarding its diesel power plant. The facility was down to only one of three functioning generators leaving the one remaining generator working at overcapacity. Throughout the event Muskrat Dam was facing the polar vortex that has gripped much of the north with temperatures plunging as low as -60° Celsius with the wind chill factor.

“Due to a Herculean effort by everyone involved, and a bit of luck, we are cautiously optimistic that our community is in a good place as we work towards getting the plant fully functional again” states community spokesperson Stan Beardy.

Matt Hoppe, of the Independent First Nation Alliance (IFNA), which is the community’s Tribal Council adds, “Over the past few days, a variety of factors have aligned putting Muskrat Dam into a much better position in regard to community power.”

This included the successful hook-up of 1000kW temporary generator to share the load with the existing generator until the permanent replacement is installed. In addition, the deep freeze has lifted somewhat, and temperatures are moving up towards -20° Celsius during the day.

“Things are starting to have a more positive focus, and we look forward to moving toward normal life again in the community as these fixes help reduce anxiety amongst our community members” says spokesperson Stan Beardy.

“Many people have pulled together to help us during this time of crisis and we are very grateful” said Chief Gordon Beardy.

“IFNA’s Technical Services and Emergency Operations teams, have been in our community since the start to assist with managing the emergency and getting the replacement generators organized. Canadian Rangers were deployed and provided on the ground support to our community. As well, Team Rubicon worked alongside community members to help keep people safe by cutting and delivering firewood to ensure that those homes capable of wood heating had the required fuel. The communities of Sioux Lookout and Timmins were on standby for a potential evacuation and the Provincial Emergency Operations Centre was on calls with us daily as we worked through the issue. We thank them all.”

“One of the luckiest breaks we got was the availability of a brand new replacement generator in Dryden of the exact same make and model as the one which stopped functioning, owned by another Tribal Council, Keewaytinook Okimakanak. The generator had been previously purchased and was not presently in use. Their willingness to support our community and help expedite the installation of this new power source cannot be understated and is very much appreciated”.

“We still have a bit of a process ahead of us”, says spokesperson Stan Beardy, “and while we still have another four to eight week timeframe required to fully install the new generators, we are cautiously optimistic that things will only get better from here.”