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Contractor, Indigenous partner formalize working agreement

AtkinsRéalis and Shwe Miikaan form limited partnership to secure Highway 69 four-laning work
Shwe Miikaan — a construction company owned by Shawanaga, Magnetwan and Henvey Inlet First Nations — was created in 2015 in response to the ongoing roadwork on Highway 69-400.

An Indigenous-owned construction company is one step closer to securing work for the four-laning of Highway 69 in Northern Ontario.

Shwe Miikaan — a construction company owned by Shawanaga, Magnetawan and Henvey Inlet First Nations — and AtkinsRéalis (formerly SNC-Lavalin) announced on June 6 they have formed a limited partnership.

This formalizes a teaming agreement the two parties originally struck in August 2023.

Under the agreement, Shwe Miikaan will contribute its expertise in construction and community engagement, while AtkinsRéalis will provide its services in project management, engineering, design, contract administration, and environmental services.

Stéphanie Vaillancourt, president of AtkinsRéalis in Canada, said in a news release that the partnership will serve as a template for how the company conducts business across the country.

“It’s critical that Indigenous communities have greater supply chain opportunities on projects that pass through their territories. This partnership with Shwe Miikaan is a model for how we will work on infrastructure projects in Canada, by bringing Indigenous-owned companies and expertise into our supply chain,” Vaillancourt said in the release.

“Aligned with our purpose of engineering a better future for our planet and its people, helping Indigenous communities close the gap in key markets such as infrastructure, clean energy, and water is how we are establishing a leadership position in Canada for Indigenous engagement in engineering.”

Adam Good, president of Shwe Miikaan, also expressed optimism about the new agreement.

"We are confident that this partnership with AtkinsRéalis will deliver tangible benefits to Shwe Miikaan,” he said in the release.

“As we strive to capture local benefit from the Highway 69/400 twinning project and others with the MTO, we remain committed to training and hiring surrounding First Nations.

“AtkinsRéalis, having a rich history in delivering multiple highway and road expansions globally, will be an invaluable partner in realizing our vision for the development of our territories.”

The four-laning of Highway 69/400 — a vital transportation link that connects Northern Ontario to the southern part of the province — has been ongoing for more than two decades.

The last segment of four-laning to be completed, in 2021, stretches between French River and Grundy Provincial Park.

A final 68 kilometres, located between French River and Parry Sound, remains, and Shwe Miikaan is hopeful of securing the contract work for that portion, which is valued at around $500 million.

However, there has been no update from the province on when construction could get underway.