WIIKWEMKOONG – The upstairs hall of Wiikwemkoong’s Thunderdome recreation centre was filled with bright smiles on Tuesday, October 3 as Parliamentary Assistant Dave Smith, on behalf of Greg Rickford, minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines and minister of Indigenous Affairs announced the Wikwemikong Development Commission (Enaadmaagehjik, translating to “People helping People”) has received $1 million to develop a light industrial park to “attract, establish and grow business on the Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory and in the surrounding community.”
Mr. Smith noted that the project will help the community “engage the private sector with opportunities to locate retail, service, manufacturing, distribution and assembly industries in an area that provides both commercial space and a labour pool. The initial phase includes road and building construction, lot preparation, electricity delivery and septic and water system installation.”
He pointed out that the project will create one full-time job directly and support nine indirect jobs in phase one of the project alone, referencing the maps in the room that show a number of future phases for the facility.
“This is something that is going to be an ongoing economic driver for your community,” he said. “The project will address immediate needs in your community.” He noted that one of the great strengths that Wiikwemkoong enjoys is an active and available labour pool.
The provincial support for the light industrial park construction is just one example of the efforts the province is making to strengthen the Northern Ontario economy, continued Mr. Smith. “Northern Ontario is open for business, open for jobs and open for opportunities.”
Ogimaa Duke Peltier thanked Mr. Smith for bringing the news to the community. “I want to say chi-miigwetch for being here and offering support for these business ventures in our community,” he said. “I think this is a wonderful support from the province. I also want give a sincere thanks to the staff who helped make this happen. G’chi-miigwetch.”
The Wiikwemkoong communications company FirstTel, which also operates the WikyTV 5 community channel, will be among the first companies to settle into the new light industrial park. Work on the park has been proceeding over the past two years since the original funding agreement was first inked.
Ogimaa Peltier noted that the light industrial park is nearing completion and that Wiikwemkoong will soon be entertaining potential tenants for the facility.