First Nations to Examine Opportunities in Energy
There are unprecedented opportunities for First Nations in renewable energy generation and transmission throughout First Nations territories. First Nations in Ontario are embarking on an engagement process to identify potential opportunities and partnerships in energy.
“It may not seem logical that First Nations are talking opportunity and economic benefit during a recession. But for First Nations, the opportunity for involvement in energy development hasn't been more ideal. Unlike others, we have a great deal to offer and not much to lose," said Grand Council Chief John Beaucage, leader of the 42-member First Nations of the Anishinabek Nation.
The Union of Ontario Indians will host five community engagement meetings and call upon a panel of energy experts to provide advice to the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) and the Minister of Energy and Infrastructure at the direction the Anishinabek Nation wants to take in energy opportunities.
Some opportunities and potential for development partnerships with First Nations include prime areas along the Great Lakes for wind power development; land for biomass generation projects, and ideal locations for alternative, small hydro, and non-evasive hydro projects. First Nations are also the rights-holders to vast territories across Ontario available for new energy infrastructure projects, including a new North-South transmission corridor that must come through Anishinabek Nation's territory.
Last September, The Honourable George Smitherman directed the OPA to undertake an enhanced process of consultation with First Nations to examine opportunities and partnerships in renewable power generation and transmission. The consultations would be reflected in the Integrated Power System Plan (IPSP), the 20-year plan designed to meet the energy needs of Ontario.
Although the OPA was asked to report back to the Minister within six months - the Anishinabek Nation assert that this process is uniquely their own.
“Our First Nations have directed us to engage our own communities - to determine our own needs and aspirations surrounding energy opportunities,” said Grand Council Chief Beaucage. "We acknowledge the full scope of the opportunities available to us in energy. It is for that reason we opted to consult with our own communities and citizens in this matter and not leave this up to the OPA and the Government.
The Anishinabek Nation established the Union of Ontario Indians as its political advocate and secretariat in 1949. The Union of Ontario Indians is the oldest political organization in Ontario and can trace its roots back to the Confederacy of Three Fires that have existed long before European contact.
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