Native groups want a piece of energy pie

TORONTO, ONTARIO - As Ontario seeks new sources of electricity, Premier Dalton McGuinty is looking favourably on a push from the Assembly of First Nations for the province to assist native businesses hoping to get a piece of the action.

"We're looking for new opportunities to strengthen our First Nations so they can enjoy greater economic prospects, so I like the sound of that," McGuinty said after AFN National Chief Phil Fontaine met energy industry executives.

With many of the potential hydroelectric and wind-power projects possibly slated for native land throughout Ontario, Fontaine made the case to the Ontario Energy Association for greater aboriginal participation.

"New ways of thinking are what we need, especially when it comes to new ways of doing business and new partnerships between local First Nations communities and the energy sector," he said.

In Saskatchewan, for example, 10 First Nations have built and operate wind power farms, while Hydro-Qu├ębec has promised to boost access to contracts for James Bay Cree enterprises looking to help operate, maintain and repair a massive hydroelectric project.

"For far too long many First Nation communities have not had access to jobs because they were too far away from urban centres. But with... the energy sector, many of the communities are right there."



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