By Joey Krackle
DOKIS FIRST NATION – During construction of the Okikendawt Project in 2013, Dokis Chief Denise Restoule said that she was enormously proud to be building a generating station that will supply clean and renewable energy for Ontario electricity consumers.
Recently, she pointed out that Dokis was proud to contribute to creating green energy and assisting in climate change while world leaders were discussing this topic and challenged Canadians to recognize the importance of environmental stewardship.
“The Okikendawt Hydro Project is a ground breaking initiative for our First Nation Community and lays a sustainable foundation for our community for generations,” says Chief Restoule. “We shall re-invest the savings from the project wisely in economic development, community infrastructure and facilities, and membership services.”
Dokis set up a trust with a board to administer the net proceeds from this project. Benefits will be used to supply health, education, infrastructure and economic and community development services for the membership.
1n 2013, Chief Restoule predicted that this project would lead to significant investment in construction related activities, services and equipment contracts which would benefit Dokis membership.
Dokis First Nation began to supply commercial electricity from the Okikendawt Project to Ontario consumers in the summer of 2015. Construction on the Okikendawt project began in 2013. This green energy hydroelectric project located adjacent to an existing dam that controls an outflow from Lake Nipissing into the French River on traditional Dokis territory. The Okikendawt Hydroelectric project is a commercial venture jointly-owned by Hydromega and the Dokis First Nation. The 10 megawatt facility will sell 100% of its power to the Ontario Power Authority for a forty (40) year term through a Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) power purchase agreement.
Discussions on this proposed project began in 2007 and the local Dokis community was closely involved in this process. Chief Restoule emphasized that “the community are your main decision makers and you have to consult with them and report back to them.”
Dokis First Nation membership voted to opt out of the sections of the Indian Act dealing with land issues and ratified their own land code in 2013. By ratifying their own Land Code, Dokis membership took a bold step to manage their own lands, resources and environment as enabled through the First Nations Land Management Act. Furthermore, Dokis ratified the Okikendawt project by an overwhelming majority of 97%.
Dokis First Nation Councillor Gerry Duquette was the Land Code Development Coordinator during the recent Dokis Land Code ratification process. He spoke about the differences a First Nation experienced in pursuing economic development with and without a Land Code. He stated that Dokis spent about $8 million and considerable time in trying to get approvals from governments in order to develop its hydro project before ratification. After Land Code ratification, Dokis was given a seat at the table and was able to speed up development. This hydro development is on federal land but the transmission line runs through the community.