Island First Nations benefit from wind farm partnership

MANITOULIN—Manitoulin area First Nations can expect upcoming employment opportunities as a result of Mnidoo Mnising Power’s partnership with Northland Power Inc. (NPI) in the McLean’s Mountain wind farm project.

The main construction company for the wind farm, HB White Canada, is currently seeking First Nation vendors and contractors to complete work on the project from hauling aggregates, providing bulk gasoline and diesel fuel, providing portable toilets as well as cubed ice and a freezer to the laydown yard.

The Expositor spoke with United Chiefs and Councils of Mnidoo Mnising (UCCMM) tribal chair Chief Joe Hare about Mnidoo Mnising Power Limited Partnership (composed of Aundeck Omni Kaning First Nation, M’Chigeeng First Nation, Sheguiandah First Nation, Sheshegwaning First Nation, Whitefish River First Nation and Zhiibaahasing First Nation) and the employment benefits from their partnership with NPI.

“Providing jobs to First Nations within the project was part of the expectation when we formed the 50/50 partnership with NPI,” explained Chief Hare. “We made it known that we wanted First Nations people considered as a priority for the project.”

He explained that a problem arose with hiring First Nation companies for the project, as it was a requirement of the main contractor that companies must have unionized workers.

“We had to sit down with NPI and sort out which jobs would actually require unionized workers so that the jobs that didn’t could come from our communities,” added Chief Hare.

The chief also shared that the UCCMM would be creating an office and appointing a job coordinator to help interested First Nation individuals to know what jobs are available and what services are needed for the project.

“The reason we entered into the partnership was to make money for our communities, but the employment opportunities is another flow to help with First Nations’ economic growth,” continued Chief Hare. “Our partnership with NPI has been excellent. It is a good relationship.”

Advertisements from HB White Canada seeking bids from First Nation vendors and contractors for some of the work on the McLean’s Mountain wind farm project are available in this week’s edition of The Expositor or online at www.manitoulin.ca.

The McLean’s Mountain wind farm project is a 24-turbine wind farm being constructed on McLean’s Mountain just outside of Little Current.

Robin Burridge