Northern Ontarians are being failed by a utility system that leaves them without running water or electricity for years at a time – something most Ontarians would never tolerate, says Kiiwetinoong MPP Sol Mamakwa.
“Several weeks ago, I stood in this house to remark about the tragic suicide of 13-year-old Karlena Kamenawatamin from Bearskin Lake,” said Mamakwa in the legislature on Monday. “I mentioned how Karlena and her family had gone over seven years — seven years — without running water or electricity in their home, a state of affairs that would outrage anyone if this happened to them or their family. Ontario Hydro Remotes had made the decision to cut the electricity to Karlena’s family for reasons beyond their control.”
Mamakwa urged the government to support Indigenous-led efforts to expand access to the hydro grid, offering a better quality of life and more opportunities for remote communities. “Ontario Hydro Remotes currently operates in 24 fly-in First Nations communities in northern Ontario, but clearly, something is not working,” said Mamakwa. “One solution may be the Wataynikaneyap transmission project. Wataynikaneyap means ‘line that brings light.’ It’s a project of 22 First Nations that will connect 17 remote First Nations communities that are still reliant on diesel fuel for power. “Better lives and more opportunity for youth in the far north is something I believe all members in this house can support, so that all other Indigenous youth will not have to grow up the way Karlena did.”
In his response to Mamakwa’s question, Minister of Indigenous Affairs Greg Rickford refused to commit to supporting the new transmission project.