The Algonquin village of Kitcisakik in La Vérendrye Game Reserve in Abitibi-Témiscamingue will finally have access to electricity. The new power line will cost $20 million and is expected to be operational by 2025.
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The approximately 300 Anicinape have been waiting for this moment for a long time.
“This is a historic announcement that will change the lives of many generations. The electrification of our community was long overdue!”, did not fail to underscore the leader Régis Penosway and emphasize the patience and resilience of the community.
Even the authorities admit it was high time.
“You’ve been very patient! The idea is simple. It is meant to connect your community. To build the electrical systems necessary to get there. We will do it at the expense of Hydro-Québec, we are the ones who will bear all these costs,” says State Corporation CEO Sophie Brochu, who was visiting the village for the first time. Algonquin, is less than an hour’s drive from Val-d’Or.
The new 25kV power line will be nearly 70km long, linking the village of Algonquin to the Louvicourt substation near Val-d’Or.
In the meantime, without electricity, the community has to resort to wood heating and generators.
In addition, the roar of generators can be heard in the background, running at full speed to supply public buildings and lighthouses with electricity.
“It was difficult for us to be the biggest polluters in the park. When we leave the generators in the summer and it smells of gas. It will change the way we live. (…) There are single mothers who don’t have a generator. It will change her whole life. You no longer have to worry about heating and lighting your home. We’ve been waiting for this for so long!” adds Jimmy Papatie, Director of Natural Resources at Kitcisakik, who is specifically responsible for maintaining the log yard and generators.
Technical and environmental studies will begin this summer, followed by construction of the electrical infrastructure, which is expected to take between 12 and 24 months.
“The changes we are announcing today are extremely important to the community. Life in Kitcisakik is more complex and less comfortable. This offer will solve a major problem,” said Aboriginal Minister Ian Lafrenière.
If the public buildings, including the school, the day care center or the health center, should simply be connected, it will be different with the housing stock, the small houses of which are mostly in poor condition.
“In addition, work still needs to be done to adapt the residential buildings to the electricity supply to ensure that they comply with the regulations,” Minister Lafrenière continues.
Quebec is making sure that the go-ahead for electrification doesn’t change the demands of the community, which wants to maintain its autonomy.
Kitcisakik has always declined reserve status. The project to build a new village with more modern infrastructure is also still at the drawing board.
But the other big challenge for Kitcisakik citizens to finally have the same amenities as all Quebecers will be access to running water.
A complicated file negotiated with Ottawa that doesn’t seem ready to be resolved yet.