Kitcisakik residents, who have been demanding access to electricity for decades, have finally had their voices heard. Your village on the 117 in the Parc de la Vérendrye, less than an hour from Val-d’Or, will be connected to the Hydro-Québec network.
” Finally ! starts with relief Jimmy Papatie, Director of Natural Resources at Kitcisakik Anicinapek Council, who applauds The duty Sunday, on the eve of the official announcement scheduled for Monday morning in Val-d’Or. “It will change the way we live, especially for single mothers and seniors. When everyone is connected, it gives people in the community a sense of security. »
Jimmy Papatie talks about his neighbors, who always feel cold in winter, despite the many wooden cords that pile up in front of their houses. He speaks of those who depend on the community to stay warm. “I think of my 76-year-old mother,” he explains. She’s gotten to a point where she can’t always start a fire herself. In the evening someone will light a fire in her slow-burning stove, she gets under the covers and she’s good for the night. But that will be over, the fear of the cold. We will install a heater, the night lamp will stay on all night if needed. There’s a whole sense of security that these people will have. »
In order for the village to function, public facilities such as the health center, day care center, primary school, town hall and sanitary building are connected to a huge generator with power cables.
And in their homes, the vast majority of people in the village also have access to a refrigerator, fans, lights and televisions thanks to personal generators. But this system is noisy and polluting: in the middle of the forest we hear the incessant whirring of the engine. “There are models that make less noise than others,” explains Mr. Papatie. But it’s a sound that’s still there, even though I don’t hear it anymore. And in the summer you can smell the carbon monoxide in the air.”
Above all, it is a system that is extremely expensive, he explains. “People in the village pay between $4,000 and $6,000 a year for gasoline to run their personal generator. An estimate validated by colleague Augustin Penosway, who says he pays between $400 and $500 a month in gas for his generator.
However, some local residents are skeptical about the introduction of electricity, notes the director of natural resources. In particular, they fear that it will cost them too much. “I tell them, if you can pay for the generator, you can pay $50 a month for electricity!” says Mr Papatie, who indicates liaison officers will help low-income families find suitable programs.
But he himself seems to have doubts about the reliability of the service, repeatedly repeating that residents will keep their generator to deal with possible power outages. “Remember the ice storm! ‘ he launches into every wind.
If all goes according to plan, all 88 homes in Kitcisakik should have electricity by 2025. Maybe even earlier. Jimmy Papatie hopes so as he begins to find it difficult to raise the 5 gallon gas boilers to power the generator, to the point where he has organized a small pumping system. “I am 58 years old, I am diabetic. I am beginning to develop the strength of a chicken, I no longer have that of an ox. It will comfort me to know that I can sleep at 61 with 18 degrees heating. »
But if Kitcisakik residents now have the assurance of having electricity in their homes, they still don’t have running water. That’s the village’s other problem.
In order to meet the needs of its residents, the band administration has equipped itself with an expensive reverse osmosis system that supplies public facilities. Residents have to go to the toilet block to fill up gallons of water to carry home. They also shower and do their laundry here.
“Was the shower good?” “Introduces former chef Marie-Hélène Papatie, emerging from the toilet block, her hair wet, her phone spitting out an old tube of Kylie Minogue. The lady is happy. “I love life today! ‘ she calls out, dodging a few small dance steps. For them, the arrival of electricity is clearly good news. “We will learn to pay for electricity,” she replies, laughing. But we’ve been like this for years, it’s about time we got power here. It’s especially good in winter. It’s very cold in my house. We can crouch close to the fire, but it will help warm us up. »
For Jimmy Papatie, access to running water is another struggle he doesn’t want to give up. “We have the electric Messiah, he will take the holy water as dear!” ‘ he summarizes in his colorful language.