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Officials with Wataynikaneyap Power, guests and members of Wawakapewin First Nation gather to celebrate the community's connection to Ontario's power grid (Adam Riley / Acadia Broadcasting)

Wataynikaneyap Transmission Line connects to 5th community

By Adam Riley Sep 29, 2023 | 6:56 PM

Wawakapewin First Nation is the the latest community connected to the provincial power grid.

Since 2017 contractors have been cutting, building and stringing high voltage power lines across the far north, in a bid to end the reliance of several communities upon diesel generators.

But now with the community connected to a reliable power source, a weight has been lifted off of Chief Anne Marie Beardy.

“I used to be worried all the time, like when I’m not home, I always check to make sure somebody is online just in case. If nobody is online that means something is going on in the community. It’s a scary feeling especially in the wintertime.

A special ceremony held Friday at Mount McKay helped mark the occasion with officials from the the proponent of the line, Wataynikaneyap Power, community members and federal and provincial officials.

In addition to being a relief, Beardy says her community, which opened its brand new water treatment facility just last year, can safely expand with new housing.

Wataynikaneyap Power CEO Margaret Kenequanash and Wawakapewin First Nation Chief Anne Marie Beardy participate in a ceremony celebrating the completion of a power line to the community (Adam Riley / Acadia Broadcasting)

This connection marks the 5th community to come online through the nearly $2 billion project, which as CEO Margaret Kenequanash explains puts it at a 96 percent completion.

“We’re still scheduled to four more communities, well two are already connected, and we’ll be celebrating them in a short while.”

In addition to those communities, three more communities are expected to be connected by the end of the year.

Kenequanash says there is potential other communities may see the benefit of joining the grid, which could further expand the project.

In December of 2018 Pikangikum became the first community to come online with a 44kV line, which was upgraded earlier this year with a 115kV conversion.

(Adam Riley / Acadia Broadcasting)