North

First Nations to discuss hydroelectric projects in Yukon

First Nations' delegates from Quebec, B.C., Saskatchewan and Ontario will be in Yukon this week discussing their experiences with hydroelectric projects. The event is co-hosted by the Council of Yukon First Nations

Speakers from Quebec, B.C., Saskatchewan and Ontario discuss their experiences

The 16-megawatt Val Jalbert hydroelectric station was completed February 2015 in Val-Jalbert Quebec, with support from the local Innu communty. A leading engineer will discuss the project in Whitehorse this week. (Ici Radio-Canada)

In Whitehorse this week, First Nations will gather to discuss their experiences with the industry both good and bad, as a First Nations Energy Forum is being hosted by the Council of Yukon First Nations and the Yukon Development Corporation. 

The experience of First Nations with hydroelectric projects across Canada has historically been mixed, with many examples of projects gone wrong.

Most famously, a clash between Hydro-Québec and the James Bay Cree led to community conflict, political uprising and even blockades. 

Despite that history, today, many First Nations are looking at hydro power as an investment in their future. 

Byron LeClair is the developer of energy projects for the Ontario-based Pic River First Nation. He will discuss the First Nation's plan to invest in hydroelectricity. (Supplied)
One guest is Byron Leclerc, director of energy projects for the Pik River First Nation. The nation, based in Ontario, is planning a hydroelectric facility that will supply 12,500 homes with electricity each year.

Another speaker is engineer Marc Morin, president of a renewable energy developer owned by the Pekuakamiulnuatsh Takuhikan First Nation in Quebec. Morin recently worked on the 16-megawatt Val Jalbert hydroelectric station completed in Val-Jalbert, Quebec. That project was supported by local Innu communities, but faced opposition and petitions from the nearby Mashteuiash First Nations Reserve. 

Lisa Badenhorst works with the Yukon Development Corporation, which is reviewing potential sites for the territory's next hydroelectric project.

"The Yukon First Nations are obviously a big part of the energy development of the territory," Badenhorst says. 

The Yukon Development Corporation's Lisa Badenhorst says the goal is to compare business and partnerships across Canada. "What do they look like outside the Yukon, what could they look like inside the Yukon," she says. (Philippe Morin)
She describes this week's sessions as centred "mostly around the opportunities that are available. What do the business, financial and partnership opportunities in energy development look like? 

"What do they look like outside the Yukon? What could they look like inside the Yukon?"

Speakers are travelling from First Nations in Quebec, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, and Ontario. 

A public session with the speakers is scheduled for May 28 at the Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre from 7 to 9 p.m.

Organizers say presentations will be posted at www.nextgenerationhydro.ca.

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