College and First Nations enter training partnership

By Mike Stimpson
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Thunder bay Source

THUNDER BAY – Chi Mino Ozhitoowin (CMO) and Confederation College have forged a partnership for the training of workers for the Waasigan Transmission Line project.

CMO chief executive officer Peter Collins and college president Kathleen Lynch signed a partnership agreement Monday at the college.

There are about 200 positions “that we’re trying to create and train for,” Collins said after the signing ceremony.

Asked what types of jobs will be included in the training, he said the First Nations company is “looking at every aspect from heavy equipment training to skills, anything that fits the project.”

The benefits go beyond training and employment for First Nations members to include “growth and economic spinoffs” for the region, he said.

“It’s an exciting day for Confederation College,” said Carol Cline, the college’s dean of workforce development.

“Individuals in the communities will have the opportunity to be trained right within their own community and then have viable jobs in the community, working careers, working on the power line,” she said.

“It’s always exciting to be able to kind of celebrate the fact that we not only work here in this building and do a lot of work in our regional campuses, but we also go right into communities and train people to meet industry needs.”

Chi Mino Ozhitoowin represents Fort William, Eagle Lake, Lac Seul, Seine River, Nigigoonsiminikaaning, Ojibway Nation of Saugeen and Lac La Croix with respect to the Waasigan Transmission Line project from Shuniah to Atikokan and Dryden.

CMO is working with Valard Construction, the project’s general contractor, to ensure traditional Anishinaabe ways of life are respected while providing training and employment opportunities in construction of the transmission line.

Nine First Nations – the seven CMO partners, plus Fort William and Wabigoon Lake – are in a partnership with Hydro One in the project.

Collins has said the transmission line, which will bring 350 megawatts of electricity to places northwest of Thunder Bay, is “a legacy opportunity for our communities.”

The Ontario Energy Board has approved Hydro One’s application for leave to erect the transmission line at an estimated cost of $1.2 billion.

The power line is scheduled to be built in two phases, from the Lakehead transformer station in Shuniah to the Mackenzie station in Atikokan and then from Atikokan to Dryden, with the line in service by the end of 2027.