Former chief Simon Winnepetonga delivered a blessing prayer Monday at his First Nation’s electricity substation.Then he delivered a quip.
The people of Wunnumin Lake First Nation don’t have to worry so much about electricity cutting out, he said. “We just have to worry about our hydro bills coming every month.”
Later in the day Winnepetonga delivered the opening prayer at the First Nation’s John George Martin Memorial School as celebration of getting reliable power through the Wataynikaneyap Power Transmission Project continued.
Before Wunnumin Lake’s Wataynikaneyap substation, the community’s electricity came from diesel generator. The fuel had to be hauled in across an ice road or flown in.
“It’s a pretty special day for Wunnumin Lake,“ Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler said in an interview at the school, adding that getting connected to reliable power is “certainly a milestone.”
In mid-October, Kasabonika Lake became the sixth remote First Nation hooked up to the Ontario power grid by Watay Power, which is owned by 24 First Nations in partnership with Fortis Inc. and other private investors.
Earlier this year and in 2022, Wawakapewin, North Caribou Lake, Kingfisher Lake and Bearskin Lake marked their link-up to the power grid by the Indigenous-led power transmission company in a $1.9-billion project to connect 17 remote First Nations to Ontario electricity. Watay Power connected Pikangikum First Nation to the grid in December 2018.