Minister Wilkinson Announces $35 Million in Support for Clean Air and Good Jobs Through New Whitesand First Nation Energy Facility

News release

February 28, 2023             Thunder Bay, Ontario                Natural Resources Canada

As Canada moves toward net zero, innovation is critical to powering low-carbon solutions in every region of the country. Canada's forest sector plays a central role in combating climate change, driving innovation and creating economic opportunities for rural and Indigenous communities. The Government of Canada is investing in solutions to cut pollution, create good jobs and support Indigenous leadership.

Today, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Natural Resources, announced a $35-million investment to Whitesand First Nation owned Sagatay Co-Generation Limited Partnership to deploy a combined heat and power facility using locally sourced wood waste to produce energy for the communities. Once constructed, the facility will reduce the use of diesel fuel for heat and electricity in Whitesand First Nation, and the communities of Armstrong and Collins, Ontario. 

Once operational, the 6.5-megawatt facility will connect to the local micro-grid and provide power for the three communities, displacing diesel consumption and improving local air quality. The facility will power clean and renewable industrial growth in the region as the electricity generated will also provide heat and power to a new wood pellet plant and a fully electric wood merchandising yard, which supports good jobs.

This project will help the three communities reduce their reliance on fossil fuels, decrease emissions and demonstrate the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of biomass heat and power. This project also enables increased local Indigenous economic development and employment by providing an opportunity to participate in the local bioeconomy by using renewable sources of heat.

Announcements like this are another example of how working in partnership delivers real results — good jobs, local economic growth and clean air for generations to come.


“Today I announced, in collaboration with the Whitesand First Nation, that the Government of Canada is investing in an important local energy solution that will cut emissions from diesel fuel and provide good jobs in northern Ontario. This $35-million federal investment is helping to power low-carbon solutions in the region while supporting Indigenous leadership. I would like to congratulate the Sagatay Co-Generation Limited Partnership and all of those involved in enabling this important initiative.”

The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson

Minister of Natural Resources 

“Protecting our climate is the challenge of our lifetime and we need all hands on deck. I am proud of the vision and determination of Sagatay Co-Generation LP to stay focused on completing this project which will reduce the use of diesel fuel for heat and energy. The project will benefit Whitesand First Nation who are the owners of Sagatay Co-Generation LP, and help the entire region. This is economic reconciliation in action. Congratulations to everyone involved.”

The Honourable Patty Hajdu

Minister of Indigenous Services

Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay – Superior North

“On behalf of Whitesand First Nation, I would like to personally thank Minister Wilkinson for Canada’s continued support for our Bio-Economy Centre project. Whitesand’s vision of energy independence and economic growth began in 1992 when we proposed a biomass cogeneration facility. Although that proposal was not accepted, and despite the many barriers we have faced through the years, we did not give up and today our vision of a sustainable future through the use of our local forest is at hand.”  

Chief Allan Gustafson 

Whitesand First Nation

“I would like to thank Minister Wilkinson and Canada for standing with Whitesand First Nation and supporting a transformative green energy project. The Bio-Economy Centre is confirmation of how Canada’s low-carbon programs and support can lead to substantial economic growth, employment, GHG reduction and forestry expansion. This project empowers an Indigenous community to enter Canada’s and Ontario’s economy while demonstrating how carbon reduction can lead to poverty reduction in similar communities across Canada.”  

David L. Mackett

Sagatay Co-Generation Limited Partnership

Quick facts

  • The micro-grid currently includes an annual diesel consumption volume equivalent to over 1.3 million litres (2022). This initiative will reduce this rate while driving down costs and emissions.

  • Federal funding for this project is provided by Natural Resources Canada’s Smart Renewables and Electrification Pathways (SREPs) program, a $1.56-billion program that provides support for smart renewable energy and electrical grid modernization projects, including projects that support capacity building.

  • This program will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions by enabling increased renewable energy capacity that will provide essential grid services while supporting Canada’s ongoing transition to a net-zero economy by 2050 as well as Canada’s commitment to achieving a 100-percent net-zero-emitting electricity system by 2035.

  • Natural Resources Canada previously provided $4,168,000 in funding for this project for pre-development work from the Clean Energy for Rural and Remote Communities (CERRC), a $453-million program that strives to reduce reliance on diesel in rural and remote communities by deploying and demonstrating renewable energy projects, encouraging energy efficiency and building local skills and capacity. The program is part of the government’s Investing in Canada plan, a more than $180-billion investment in public transit projects, green infrastructure, social infrastructure, trade and transportation routes and Canada’s rural and northern communities. 

Associated links


Natural Resources Canada
Media Relations

Keean Nembhard

Press Secretary

Office of the Minister of Natural Resources


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