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Natives hold key to Ontario power - A proposed east-west energy grid can't proceed without their support
KAREN HOWLETT - Posted ON 02/04/07
Native leaders are sharply divided over a proposed transmission link that would import electricity from Manitoba to power-hungry Ontario, potentially throwing a wrench into the Harper government's green plan.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has earmarked $586-million of the $1.5-billion Canada EcoTrust Fund to help Ontario reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and fight climate change by building the so-called east-west link. Manitoba has an abundance of hydroelectric power, so the grid could supply Ontario with a clean source of power and help the province phase out its pollution-spewing coal plants. But the link cannot go ahead without the support of native communities in Northern Ontario because it would run through their traditional territories.
Native leaders in 19 of the 49 Northern Ontario reserves represented by the Nishnawbe-Aski Nation agreed late Thursday night to have their communities push ahead with the project and seek an ownership interest in it. But leaders of the remaining 30 communities said they could not throw their support behind the project until the Ontario government outlines its stand on broader economic development issues.
They want a revenue-sharing agreement with the government and a commitment on how the grid can become a springboard for other economic development initiatives.
"I don't think the chiefs are saying outright 'no,' " deputy Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler said in an interview. "We need to know exactly what the full picture is before we can even begin to reach a decision."
Steve Erwin, a spokesman for Ontario Energy Minister Dwight Duncan, said the government is encouraged by the first nations' interest in the proposed project. But some of the NAN leaders are anxious to move faster.
The Wabun and Matawa tribal councils, which represent communities near Timmins and Thunder Bay, set up the First Nations Energy Alliance last week to explore having the reserves' own equity in the transmission line, said Harvey Yesno, head of the NAN steering committee for the project.
"They said, 'Enough is enough. We want to create jobs and business opportunities,' " he said.
A source close to the federal government said Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice is equally keen to get the project up and running. Not only is it a key part of the Harper government's newfound commitment to cleaning up the environment. The project has the added advantage of potentially doing something positive for aboriginals, who have felt slighted by the Harper government, the source said.
"Minister Prentice has been clear that he encourages economic development for aboriginals," said Deirdre McCracken, a spokeswoman for the minister. "But as for anything related to the east-west power grid, for the time being it's very much up in the air."
The project would involve spending about $10-billion to develop a 1,250-megawatt hydro dam known as Conawapa on the Nelson River in northeastern Manitoba. A high- voltage transmission line from the dam to James Bay in Northern Ontario and south to Timmins and Sudbury would cost another $1.5-billion.
The megaproject would take at least a decade to complete. But it is expected to run into stiff opposition from environmentalists, who will see the transmission line as a significant threat to the boreal forest. The project will not proceed until the Ontario government signs a long-term agreement with Manitoba to purchase the electricity produced at Conawapa. Talks are under way between the two provinces.
The Ontario government is counting on the project to help address the province's looming electricity shortage. By 2015, demand is forecast to exceed supply.
For their part, native leaders are trying to find a way to work together on the project rather than split off into different groups. NAN leaders signed a resolution at 10:30 Thursday night endorsing the continuation of discussions with the provincial government.
Hydro power megaproposal
The Conawapa Generating Station would be capable of producing 1,340 megawatts of electricity on the Lower Nelson River, 28 kilometres downstream from the existing Limestone Generating Station. Conawapa would require no significant water storage upstream, since flooding would be contained almost entirely within the natural banks of the Nelson River.
Ontario's existing installed generation capacity
includes nuclear, coal, oil, gas, hydroelectric, wood and waste-fuelled generation, which results in a total installed capacity of approximately 30,000 MW.
Oil and gas: 16.5%
A massive new east-west power grid could both help burnish the Harper government's image as environmentally friendly and help Ontario address its looming electricity crisis. But the proposed Conawapa project -- a $10-billion dam on the Nelson River and a $1.5-billion transmission line that would take 10 years to build -- faces numerous hurdles.
The four routes
The location of the transmission line is an open question. The Ontario government is studying four route options, all of which would affect a number of native communities.
DIRECT ROUTE: 1,750 kilometres from the proposed Conawapa dam to Sudbury. In a 2006 study for the Ontario government, favoured "from a technical, economic and environmental perspective" by consultants SNC-Lavalin Inc. and McLeod Wood Associates.
THUNDER BAY ROUTE: 1,750 kilometres from Conawapa southeast to Thunder Bay and then east to Sudbury.
WINNIPEG ROUTE: 2,400 kilometres from Conawapa to the Winnipeg area, then through the Thunder Bay area to Sudbury.
FAR NORTH ROUTE: 1,750 kilometres from Conawapa toward James Bay, then south through Kapuskasing to Timmins and Sudbury. Favoured by consultant's report from an environmental perspective.
Native bands Manitoba
The provincial government is promoting a partnership with native bands that would see these communities borrow a third of the project's financing costs in return for a share of the revenue from the project. The government also signed an agreement with Fox Lake Cree Nation in Gilliam to bring the community in as a partner. In addition, it paid the Cree group restitution for earlier projects that flooded the Fox Lake territory.
The Nishnawbe-Aski Nation, which represents 49 communities in Northern Ontario, will not throw their support behind the transmission line until the provincial government outlines its position on broader economic development issues. NAN also wants a revenue-sharing agreement with the province and an ownership stake in the project.
Press release ...
Team Spirit: Aboriginal Girls In Sport Call for Program Proposals
NOTE: Priority Areas Expanded AND Deadline Extended
Team Spirit: Aboriginal Girls in Sport is a national project designed to increase community sport opportunities for Aboriginal girls and young women (ages 9-18). Team Spirit is a partnership between the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity (CAAWS) and the Aboriginal Sport Circle, and has received Sport Participation Development Program funding from Heritage Canada, Sport Canada.
CAAWS and the Aboriginal Sport Circle are now seeking proposals from organizations across Canada to develop and deliver a community sport program for Aboriginal girls and young women. Proposals from Atlantic Canada, British Columbia, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Nunavik, Yukon will be prioritized for this funding. Four programs will be selected to receive $3,000 in funding for the 2007/2008 fiscal year. Proposals are due April 23, 2007.
To download the Call for Proposals and proposal template visit: http://caaws.ca/onthemove/e/aboriginal/communication.htm
Ontario government press release ...
McGuinty Government Invests Over $1.6 Million For Aboriginal Health - Multi-Year Commitment Addresses Disease Prevention And Health Promotion
TORONTO – The McGuinty government is providing $1,685,737 over two years for thirteen initiatives that address the disease prevention and health promotion needs of Ontario’s Aboriginal communities, Health Promotion Minister Jim Watson announced today.
The funding will go to Aboriginal organizations and agencies to implement culturally appropriate initiatives that will best address particular challenges facing the Aboriginal population.
“The McGuinty government appreciates that Aboriginal communities experience particular challenges with respect to healthy and active living and tobacco misuse, which is why we are pleased to invest in these 13 necessary programs,” said Watson. “We asked organizations and agencies that service these communities to tell us how best to address these challenges in their communities and these initiatives are as a result of this healthy partnership."
"This funding is very important to Aboriginal communities across Ontario," said David Martin, President of the Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centres. “These programs will help us to address incidents of chronic disease, such as diabetes and cancer which are many times higher that the provincial average. Most important, we will empower our youth to lead efforts to reduce commercial tobacco use in our communities. We very much appreciate this opportunity to work with the Ontario government toward improving the quality of life for Aboriginal people."
The thirteen programs that have received funding are:
The McGuinty government also recently introduced the province’s first Aboriginal-specific mass media campaign to raise awareness of the harmful effects of commercial tobacco.
Smoking kills an average of 16,000 people in Ontario each year. Tobacco-related diseases cost the Ontario health care system at least $1.7 billion a year, result in more than $2.6 billion in productivity losses, and account for at least 500,000 hospital days each year.
Ontario’s tobacco consumption has fallen by 18.7 per cent or more than 2.6 billion cigarettes since 2003. During that time, the government has increased its investments in tobacco control six-fold to a total of $60 million, including a $10 million increase in 2006 over the previous year.
BACKGROUNDER March 30, 2007
Improving The Quality Of Life For Aboriginal People
As part of Ontario’s Action Plan on Healthy Eating and Active Living and the Smoke-Free Ontario Strategy, the McGuinty Government is committed to the prevention of chronic disease and the promotion of healthy eating and active living.
The Ministry of Health promotion is funding Aboriginal organizations and agencies in 2006/07 and 2007/08 to carry out projects supporting Aboriginal-specific prevention, education and cessation activities, as well as tobacco control resources in Aboriginal communities and culturally appropriate healthy eating and active living projects.
Funding recipients include:
The Akwesasne, Mohawks of Kanonkwa’Tesheio:oi Health Centre in Cornwall is working with local school boards to provide smoking cessation education to high school students and the Boys and Girls club as an extra-curricular activity. ($96,146)
The De dwa da dehs ney>s Aboriginal Health Access Centre in Hamilton working in partnership with YMCAs will educate Aboriginal youth to live and promote tobacco-wise lifestyles. ($209,870)
The Gizhewaadiziwin Access Centre in Fort Frances developed a smoking cessation video to discourage Aboriginal youth from smoking and to help those who are smoking quit. As well support groups for Aboriginals and their families to lead healthy eating and active living initiatives including community kitchens, baby food making workshops, and sport and recreation activities were established. ($131,600)
NAN - Nishnawbe Aski Nation in Thunder Bay developed a conference and traditional land-based learning camp for Aboriginal youth that encourages cessation of commercial tobacco use and promote active living. ($35,800)
The Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centres is providing a train-the-trainer program to staff at its 28 friendship centres across Ontario. The training will promote physical activity, healthy eating and smoke-free living to women and youth. ($346,630)
The Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health in Ottawa developed a project entitled “Walking the Healthy Journey Throughout the Life Cycle”. The project will focus on prevention and cessation of commercial tobacco use, healthy food choices that are available on a limited budget and increasing physical activities that reflect Aboriginal traditions. ($146,828)
The Union of Ontario Indians, headquartered in North Bay, received support to begin development of an “Anishinabek Nation Smoke-Free Strategy” to address the health and economic burden of commercial tobacco use in 43 member First Nations. ($25,000)
The Anishnawbe Mushkiki Aboriginal Health Access Centre in Thunder Bay was funded to work with the Thunder Bay Urban Aboriginal Strategy and the Lakehead School Board to develop active living and healthy eating initiatives in five schools and neighbourhoods. Monthly active living activities and children’s community kitchens will be held at each site. As well, the Centre will develop a 12 week life skills training session on the causes of tobacco abuse, smoking myths and realities, helping participants move towards quitting or harm reduction approaches ($166,250)
The Ganaan De We O Dis ^Yethi Yenahwahse Aboriginal Health Access Centre in London received funding to support healthy living training for 30 health care workers from London Urban Aboriginal agencies, as well as from the seven surrounding area reserves. ($6,042)
The Noojmowin Teg Aboriginal Health Access Centre in Little Current received support for community workers to participate in the “Community Nutrition Advisory Program” being facilitated by the Sudbury and District Health Unit. These newly trained community staff will then coordinate two Take Five programs within the seven local First Nations areas targeted towards First Nation parents and their children and focused on reducing health problems including obesity, diabetes, heart problems and other health issues. ($131,250)
The N'Mninoeyaa Aboriginal Health Access Centre (North Shore Tribal Council) in Cutler received support to develop the “Grow Healthy Families” project. This initiative fosters families taking responsibility for their health by providing them with tools, support and infrastructure to be successful and promoting healthy lifestyle choices. ($175,000)
The Ontario Native Women's Association in Thunder Bay will develop community health gatherings in Kenora and Sudbury. The gatherings will include speakers on diabetes awareness, physical activity, nutrition and overall healthy living. ($84,435)
The Wassay-Gezhig Na-Nahn-Dah-We-Igamig Aboriginal Health Access Centre in Keewatin received funding to hire a health promotion coordinator. The coordinator will carry out community-based activities designed to promote traditional healthy nutrition and active lifestyles that focus on issues including asthma, heart disease, diabetes, and other nutrition topics. ($128,888)
For further information:
Ministry of Health Promotion