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Utility company donating to youth centre

Fortis Ontario contributes to Wapekaka First Nation funding campaign
Fortis pic

Fortis Ontario announced a contribution June 21 to help kick start a funding campaign to build a youth centre in Wapekeka First Nation.

Fortis is a Toronto-based utility working on the Wataynikaneyap (Watay) Power project in northwestern Ontario.

Wapekeka, a community of 400 people located about 450 kilometres northeast of Sioux Lookout this year, has experienced three youth suicides this year, including a death of a 12-year-old girl earlier this month.

Fortis Ontario president-CEO Scott Hawkes hopes the donation will jump start a fundraising campaign to help build a 3,000-square-foot youth centre focused on prevention and access to appropriate interventions and mental health support.

The building will cost more than $500,000 in materials and transportation, not including construction costs.

The size of the contribution by Fortis was not announced in a June 21 news release.

"We need this facility for our children and youth as they have no place to go," said Brennan Sainnawap, Chief of Wapekeka First Nation. "So we are just going to go ahead and build it."

"National Aboriginal Day is a day to celebrate the diverse cultures and contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples, but the recent tragedies in Wapekeka clearly demonstrate we still have a long way to go when it comes to capacity building in First Nations communities," added Hawkes.

"As a company currently working with 22 First Nations communities who have partnered with us to form Wataynikaneyap Power to develop new transmission facilities to connect remote First Nation communities in northwestern Ontario, we are committed to the communities in which we operate and the well-being of the people who live there, and today's small donation signals our commitment to helping these communities."

Fortis Ontario owns and operates Canadian Niagara Power Inc., Cornwall Street Railway Light & Power Company Ltd. and Algoma Power serving a combined 65,000 customers. The utility also owns and operates 3,430 kilometres of distribution and transmission.