North Bay Mayor, Al McDonald; Lands and Resources Director at the Union of Ontario Indians, Jason Laronde; Executive Director at Biomass North Development Centre, Dawn Lambe; Member of Parliament for Nipissing—Timiskaming Anthony Rota; and Union of Ontario Indians Chief Operating Officer at the announcement for the investment on behalf of FEDNOR and NOHFC for the Northern Ontario Bioeconomy Strategy.

By Laura Barrios

NIPISSING FIRST NATION—Member of Parliament for Nipissing—Timiskaming, Anthony Rota, announced on behalf of the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development and Minister Responsible for FEDNOR, that both levels of Government of Canada will be providing matching contributions to enable the Biomass North Development Centre, in partnership with the Union of Ontario Indians to implement the Northern Ontario Bioeconomy Strategy.

“I am pleased to announce FEDNOR (Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern and Rural Ontario) and NOHFC (Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation) investments totaling $216,000.00 to help the Biomass North Development Centre in partnership with the Union of Ontario Indians, to implement its Northern Ontario Bioeconomy Strategy,” announced Rota. “Matching contributions of $108,000.00 from both levels of government will be used to help spur innovation and entrepreneurship and create renewable energy solutions for northern Ontario communities.”

Although the Minister of Northern Development and Mines, Michael Gravelle, was unable to attend, he sent his regrets via letter, which also included how this newly acquired funding will support the Northern Ontario Bioeconomy Strategy and in what capacity.

“The more than $108,000.00 in NOHFC investments will support the planning, early implementation, and outreach phase of the Bioeconomy Strategy,” stated Rota on behalf of Minister Gravelle as he read aloud his letter. “We are confident that these projects will generate a number of economic, environmental, and social benefits including creating jobs, moderating energy costs, fostering innovation, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and building healthy communities.”

“This is a concrete step in the right direction. It’s exciting to be a part of clean and green energy solutions for our region,” added Rota. “I commend the Biomass Centre and the Union of Ontario Indians for championining this important initiative.”

Chief Operating Officer of the Union of Ontario Indians, Gary Dokis, echoed the enthusiasm shared by the parties involved in the partnership.

“When the Anishinabek Nation partnered up with Biomass Innovation Centre in 2014, it was to ensure that a robust economy — bioeconomy — would flourish here in northern Ontario and in Canada, and that the Anishinabek had a voice to ensure the protection of the lands and water,” stated Dokis. “The Union of Ontario Indians is very pleased to support development of the Northern Ontario Bioeconomy Strategy and looks forward to these projects creating development across the north.”

A key part of the implementation of the Northern Ontario Bioeconomy Strategy will include establishing 13 demonstration facilities located across the northern Ontario region to showcase the efficiency and effectiveness of various biomass initiatives. The Demonstration Facilities will also focus on priority areas including: a sustainable supply model; bioenergy and fuels; as well as biocomposites and chemicals. As part of the project, the organization will also include and launch a training plan, seek to develop new markets, and to establish international partnerships.

Executive Director at Biomass North Development Centre, Dawn Lambe, believes that this funding and partnership will serve a dual-purpose.

“This northern Ontario Bioeconomy Strategy can be a very useful tool as we drive towards reconciliation in this country,” noted Lambe. “By partnering and ensuring that resources and benefits of those resources are allocated equitably, and that as First Nations exercise jurisdiction, and we enforce their inherit role around stewardship around our natural resources, this is an opportunity for partnership and benefit for all of us.”

“[The Union of Ontario Indians was] instrumental in driving this project,” added Lambe. “It was [their] mission in support of a robust bioeconomy and the role of regional cooperation between the municipalities and their First Nation host to drive a robust bioeconomy in northern Ontario.”

Biomass North Development Centre brings together a network of collaboration including municipalities, First Nations, industry, and academia who are focused on how best to  lead the northern Ontario sustainable forestry resources to foster economic development, job growth, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Their goals in the Canadian bioeconomy include: enhancing technology transfer and driving innovation, developing sustainable supply chains and economic development opportunities, and developing domestic and export markets for bioproducts.

Others in attendance of the announcement include: North Bay Mayor Al McDonald; representatives from Canadore College; and Alain Thivierge, Director of Naturallia, among others.