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Northern Ontario Indigenous not-for-profit energy company releases new book

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An Indigenous not-for-profit energy company is releasing a book about its fight to bring electricity to a group of First Nation communities on northern Ontario's James Bay coast.

Five Nations Energy Inc., an Indigenous not-for-profit energy company is releasing a book about its fight to bring electricity to a group of First Nation communities on northern Ontario's James Bay coast. (Supplied/Five Nations Energy Inc.)

Five Nations Energy Inc. is the only Indigenous-owned transmission company in Canada and is based in Timmins. The power company is celebrating 27 years in business as a non-profit.

Prior to the addition of Five Nations Energy’s transmission lines, Far North communities relied on noisy and unreliable diesel fuel generators for energy – which were also bad for the environment.

“Back 27, 30 years ago, hydro, Ontario Hydro was around, under their old and they had a monopoly on everything had a monopoly on transmission, distribution (and) they kind of frowned on other groups building a transmission line unless they were involved, unless they owned it 100 per cent,” Five Nations Energy CEO Pat Chilton.

Chilton told CTVNorthernOntario.ca that is where the whole company began.

“We wanted to make sure that, our leadership at the time wanted to make sure that, we owned it and we could do it ourselves,” he said.

“What happened there during that time, we were told by a number of government officials, a number of Ontario Hydro officials at the time that 'no, you're not going to build that line.'”

Chilton said at every turn they were told “There's just no way.”

“Finally, the final time we were told 'no' was 'you're going to build that line over my dead body,'” he said.

“And (so) that's the name of the book.”

Company officials said the book comes from the long struggle to get where they are.

Five Nations Energy has since constructed high-voltage transmission lines between Moosonee, Ont. and Attawapiskat.

A generic map showing the path between Moosonee, Ont. and Attawapiskat, Ont. (Mapbox)

Chilton said the company has two more projects involving constructing more lines in northeastern Ontario – including one reaching from Wawa to Porcupine that is waiting for a decision by the Minister of Energy.

“Whenever I had a difficult time over the last two to three years when working on the book while working on projects and you know that type of thing, cause there's always some sort of degree of politics or you know you have to work around,” said Chilton.

"It's a good story it really is. I'm not just saying that because I'm the CEO but it is a good story.”

Copies of the book, 'Over My Dead Body' The Story of Five Nations Energy Inc., are available for free by contacting the company. 

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