Wuskwatim Project History

Wuskwatim is Cree for Beaver Dam

Wuskwatim is cree for beaver dam.

In 1997, NCN began negotiating with Manitoba Hydro to develop a 200-megawatt hydroelectric power dam at Taskinigahp Falls on the Burntwood River within the Nelson House Resource Management Area.

NCN’s participation was coordinated through its Future Development Team. The project offered considerable economic benefits to NCN through jobs, training and business opportunities during construction and long-term benefits through sustainable income to NCN from power sales.

An extensive environmental impact assessment was completed. The Manitoba Clean Environment Commission considered the economic and environmental issues as part of nearly four months of hearings on the project, which concluded June 9, 2004. It issued its report to the Manitoba Minister of Conservation, October 4, 2004, recommending the Wuskwatim project go forward.

Community Involvement in the Process

NCN had significant input into development of the Environmental Impact Statements, using Traditional Knowledge integrated with scientific knowledge.

NCN also consulted with federal regulators, resulting in Canada’s Comprehensive Study Report, issued in November 2005. The report concludes the Wuskwatim Generating Project “is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects.”

The Wuskwatim Project Development Agreement

Hydro and NCN signed a non-binding Agreement in Principle for the project in 2001 that would provide for an equity partnership in the project if NCN elects to exercise that option. The process of negotiations resulted in a Summary of Understandings, which formed the outline of a Project Development Agreement.

NCN Members voted to ratify the PDA in June 2006. The Wuskwatim Project Development Agreement was signed on June 26 by representatives of Manitoba Hydro and Nisichawayasihk Chief and Council in a colourful ceremony attended by several hundred people, including Manitoba Premier Gary Doer, seven members of the Manitoba government, as well as representatives of the federal government led by Rod Bruinooge, Member of Parliament and Parliamentary Undersecretary for Indian Affairs and Northern Development. Also attending were a large number of senior Hydro officials, several regional First Nation Chiefs and other government and business leaders from across northern Manitoba.

Unforeseen at the time of the PDA signing were major changes in the global economy that could affect the viability of NCN’s investment. These included:

  • The near collapse of the global economy in 2008,
  • The significant rise in the value of the Canadian dollar,
  • Escalating costs for the project,
  • The decreasing demand and pricing for export energy due to global recession and abundant cheap natural gas from fracking for electricity generation
  • Terms on the Keeyask agreement not available in the Wuskwatim PDA.

This resulted in agreement to conduct a PDA review process starting in 2009 that culminated in a supplementary agreement provided additional loan option for NCN and an extension of the deadline for NCN to pay for its 33 percent ownership.

Construction was expected to take six years to complete with the first turbine generator going into service June 22, 2012 and the final turbine generator going into service in October 2012.

PDA Review Archive

The PDA review was undertaken over a two year period starting in October 2009, and concluded in early 2011. It was prompted by several changes in the global economic and energy markets and other factors that were not foreseen when the PDA was signed. The review involved several rounds of consultations with NCN Citizens, and resulted in the PDA Supplementary Agreement which provided some additional investment options and clarification of the operational jobs provision of the original PDA. Below is an archive of information used throughout the review.

Community Skills Survey

December 2011 – The Wuskwatim Implementation Office conducted a community skills survey of NCN Citizens as part of implementing Phase 1 of the Operational Employment provisions of the recently concluded PDA Supplementary Agreement.

Shawna Linklater was the community employment coordinator for the project with Curtis Lobster, Donna Moore-Linklater, and Henry Wood working as employment advisors to visit households in Nelson House to conduct the surveys. Jeremiah Spence is conducting surveys in Winnipeg. About 400 surveys have been completed so far.

All NCN Citizens were asked to participate when surveyors come to your door.

“The results are important in helping us determine training programs that we need to put in place to make our Citizens more competitive in the job market.” Implementation Office Manager Norman Linklater said.

A key provision of the PDA Supplementary Agreement is to move forward with the Operational Employment provisions of the 2006 PDA that would increase NCN Citizens’ representation in Manitoba Hydro’s overall workforce. To do that first requires conducting this community skills inventory to determine what skills and aptitudes exist among NCN Citizens, and to identify training requirements for interested NCN Citizens to obtain skills needed for employment.

PDA-review Meet-and-greet Consultations Conclude

NCN held the third and final round of PDA-review meet-and-greet consultation meetings that were held for Members between Jan. 25 and Feb. 1, 2011 in Nelson House, Leaf Rapids, Thompson and Winnipeg. Close to 200 NCN Members attended. NCN’s advisors and Chief and Council provided an overview of the Project Development supplementary agreement recently negotiated between NCN and Manitoba Hydro to address economic and other changes that have occurred since the PDA was signed in 2006. The PDA itself was not reopened as part of the review process. No ratification vote on the supplementary agreement is required, and it will be signed in March 2011.

The supplementary agreement provides five options in addition to what is available in the original 2006 PDA. These include:

  • The option of borrowing six times NCN’s cash investment instead of four times as provided by the PDA.
  • The option of receiving compensating income through an annual annuity if the projected rate of return on NCN’s investment at final closing is lower than what was projected when the PDA was signed.
  • The option of an approximate 1.5 year extension to the deadline to complete payment of its cash investment for the full 33 percent ownership if it has paid for 27.5 percent of ownership by final closing.
  • The option of using its $5.7 million Taskinigahp Trust capital as part of its cash investment in Wuskwatim.
  • A low-risk preferred-unit option that would allow NCN to invest considerably less (with no loans) to own under 4 percent of the project, that would however also result in considerably less revenue over the long term.

Except for the preferred-unit option, NCN can use a combination of the other four options.

The Supplementary Agreement also includes finalized details of the Operational Employment program that will help make employment opportunities for NCN Members more available in Manitoba Hydro’s regular operations across the province.

A PDA Supplementary Agreement Guidebook is being prepared for distribution to Members within the next few weeks.

Final Round of Meet and Greet Consultations Set for Late January 2011

NCN will hold the third and final round of PDA-review meet-and-greet consultation meetings for all Members in four locations, starting the last week in January. Doors open for registration at 3:30 p.m. at all locations, with presentations staring at 4:00 p.m. outlining recommendations resulting form the PDA review process. Small group discussion meetings and supper will follow.  Meetings are expected to conclude about 8:00 p.m. Click to read poster.

Nelson House    Tuesday, January 25                       Duncan Wood Memorial Hall

Leaf Rapids        Wednesday, January 26                Legion Centre

Thompson          Thursday, January 27                      Royal Canadian Legion 101 Elizabeth Dr.

Winnipeg            Tuesday, February 1                       Norwood Hotel 112 Marion St.

Special Small Group Meetings Arranged for NCN Organizations

The third and final round of PDA review consultation meetings started with special small-group meetings, January 11 – 13 at ATEC in Nelson House for key NCN departments and organizations including: Construction Staff, Meetah Building Staff, NCN Youth, NCN Government Staff, Wellness Centre Staff, Resource Harvesters, Elders and Wuskwatim Staff.  Three meetings per day were held to accommodate all organizations.

Wuskwatim PDA-related Activity for 2011 Outlined

With the Wuskwatim project’s first generator set to go on line in late 2011 or early 2012, considerable activity is still required leading up to NCN’s final decision on whether to invest.  A complete schedule of PDA-related activity has been prepared through to Final Closing. Click to see complete schedule.

Second Round of Wuskwatim PDA Review Meetings Concluded March 29, 2010

The second round of Wuskwatim Project Development Agreement Review Meet and Greet meetings concluded Monday, March 29 at the Indian and Métis Friendship Centre in Winnipeg following four meetings the previous week in northern Manitoba: Nelson House, South Indian Lake, Leaf Rapids and Thompson. About 250 NCN Members attended the five meetings.

Chief Jim Moore and Councillor Marcel Moody were the main presenters of Wuskwatim-related information.

Chief Moore provided:

  • A brief construction update
  • A rundown of actions Chief and Council have taken to address employment concerns raised at the first round of PDA review meetings
  • A brief assessment of NCN employment on the project including projections for future employment expectations
  • Highlights of the survey of Wuskwatim workers and families
  • An overview of socio-economic monitoring contract
  • An overview of the Taskinigahp Trust five year planning process.

Councillor Marcel Moody Explained Commercial Terms and Operational Employment Considerations in PDA Review

Councillor Moody recapped the need for the PDA review including the primary areas of focus for the review – Commercial Terms and Operational employment. He reviewed factors that potentially affect NCN’s decision to invest, including the high value of the Canadian dollar, increased construction costs, the economic downturn that has considerably lowered Hydro’s export power sales.

On the commercial terms topic, Councillor Moody discussed options NCN might consider as an alternative to the common-share option provided in the PDA. One is a preferred-share option similar to that offered to First Nations partners in the Joint Keeyask Development Agreement that offers less risk but also considerably less revenue for NCN if the project does well. Another option allows NCN to borrow six times its equity investment instead of four times as provided in the PDA.

Marcel also reviewed progress with the operational employment topic of the review, which requires as a first step a broad assessment of education levels and skills in the community to determine what training and upgrading is needed to make NCN Members eligible for operational jobs with Manitoba Hydro.

As part of that assessment, Marcel provided highlights of the ATEC assessment that has been completed.

Members Ask Questions

Members who attended had the opportunity to ask questions, which will be answered at the final round of meetings in June.

NCN Citizens will be notified through invitations, newspaper advertisements and radio spots when the final round of meetings will be held, which is expected some time in June.

PDA Round 2 Information

Prior to the PDA Review Meetings, relevant information (available for download below) was distributed to NCN Citizens including:

The Wuskwatim PDA Review – Round 1 Recap

The PDA Review is intended to ensure our agreement continues to offer maximum potential benefits to NCN considering the global economic changes and other factors that have occurred since the document was signed. A series of community meet and greets have been scheduled to inform NCN Citizens of the topics being reviewed.

The Review will Take Into Account…

  • The increased cost of the project
  • Changes to the economic environment such as fluctuations in the value of the Canadian dollar that could affect financial returns from Wuskwatim power exports
  • Newer agreements with other First Nations that provide different arrangements
  • Employment performance


The first round of the PDA review meetings concluded Tuesday, October 20, 2009 with a final meeting in Winnipeg at Thunderbird House.

Other meetings were held in Nelson House, Leaf Rapids, South Indian Lake and Thompson the week before. Total NCN Citizen attendance at all meetings was modest at just under 300, with the largest attendance in Winnipeg, but attendees were engaged and interested.

Each meeting started with an overview from Chief Jim Moore,followed by Wuskwatim portfolio holder Marcel Moody providing the main presentation which included an update on the Wuskwatim project and benefits received so far and why the PDA review was necessary and what it would cover. NCN’s professional legal, business, economic and technical advisors were on hand and were available to respond to questions.

Question periods followed the presentations with most questions concerning jobs and employment issues related to Wuskwatim. Attendees also had an opportunity to complete a question and comment form, and the answers to all questions will be posted on the NCN website and provided at the next round of PDA review meetings set for winter 2010.

  • Councillor Moody’s presentation explained the reasons for the PDA review which included the changing circumstance surrounding the project:
  • The fluctuating value of the Canadian dollar vs the U.S. dollar and the volatility of the economy that independently or together can affect the profitability of Wuskwatim’s export power sales once the station starts operating in 2001;
  • The escalating construction cost for Wuskwatim that has doubled to $1.2 billion since negotiations first began;
  • The recent signing of the Joint Keeyask Development Agreement with other northern First Nations, which includes provisions that differ from those in the PDA that need to be reviewed to see if similar provisions could be adapted to benefit NCN’s agreement.

The other focus of the presentation covered the two main areas of the PDA that the review will examine. These include:

  • Commercial Terms which cover the business arrangements of the deal including such things as when NCN will have to provide its investment money, how much money NCN can borrow from Hydro, and different options for being a partner through common shares or preferred shares.
  • Operational jobs that cover broad employment opportunities within Manitoba Hydro, aside from Wuskwatim constructions jobs. Commitments to develop such opportunities are written into the PDA as well as the earlier Agreement in Principal.
  • The review is not a reopening of the PDA, but could result in supplementary agreements to cover any changes or additions.

The next two rounds of meetings will be held in the winter and spring of 2010.

PDA Review to Ensure NCN Gets Maximum Benefits from Its Wuskwatim Investment

The Wuskwatim Implementation Office is coordinating a review of the Wuskwatim Project Development Agreement (PDA) to ensure its terms continue to meet the needs and expectations of NCN Citizens given changes in the global economy. This review is not intended to reopen the PDA but could possibly result in a supplementary agreement with additional options to the original PDA.

Read More in the PDA Review Newsletter

The Wuskwatim Generating Station

The Wuskwatim Generating Station

The Wuskwatim Generating Station is a 200-megawatt, hydroelectric generating station constructed between 2006 and 2012 on the Burntwood River in the Nelson House Resource Management Area.

We developed the project in partnership with Manitoba Hydro, the provincial Crown corporation responsible for providing energy resources, including electricity and natural gas within the province of Manitoba.

Discussions and negotiations leading to the agreement to build Wuskwatim were ongoing for nearly nine years, from 1997 to 2006, and involved consultation with Manitoba Hydro, NCN Citizens, the wider community and other interested parties, as well as government regulators. This development represented the first time in Canada a First Nation entered into and equity partnership with a major public utility.

Wuskwatim’s Location

Wuskwatim Map

Wuskwatim is located at Taskinigahp Falls, about 45 kilometres southwest of Thompson and 40 kilometres southeast of Nelson House.

While the partnership with Manitoba Hydro did not include the transmission lines, we consulted with Hydro in planning the best route through our territory and compensation for any impact on affected communities. Transmission line construction took place in phases over several years with most components complete by summer 2011.

Our recent history influenced how we have approached this project. Since the 1960s our people have, in one way or another, been involved with Manitoba Hydro regarding hydroelectric development in our traditional territory.

Learning From the Past

The Churchill River Diversion (CRD), constructed in the 1970s, had a great impact on our First Nation because the water level changes and flooding it caused affected our hunting, fishing, trapping and sacred sites. At that time, we could not prevent the massive CRD from going ahead and did not foresee the resulting changes to our environment and way of life. Governments and those developing natural resources had no duty to consult, and took very few steps to consult with us.

Fortunately, Cree People are strong, resilient and adaptable.  We realized after 30 years of struggle for proper compensation and healing, that we needed to look ahead and not back.  So in 1996, after hard, careful negotiations we signed the Northern Flood Implementation Agreement with Manitoba, Canada and Manitoba Hydro.

One important feature of the 1996 Agreement is the process for future development.  If Manitoba Hydro wants to build new projects that may affect NCN, it has to finalize compensation arrangements with NCN before it can build.

What happened 40 years ago cannot happen today because we now have recognized, constitutionally protected rights and self-government. We also have a number of newer agreements in place that give us the power and the tools to negotiate and determine the use of our natural resources to benefit our First Nation.

A Cooperative Approach

From the beginning of the Wuskwatim project, there was a cooperative approach to development between Manitoba Hydro and NCN.

In 1997, NCN and Manitoba Hydro established a working group to facilitate ongoing consultation regarding the proposed development.

In late 1999, NCN and Manitoba Hydro selected a joint study team to conduct biophysical and socio-economic studies required as part of the regulatory approval process. The team designed and implemented a Joint Study Program to address the concerns and issues raised by NCN and Manitoba Hydro.

Joint Study Program

The joint study team provided:

  • Environmental and socio-economic information that was used in the project-planning phase to avoid or minimize impacts and to address compensation issues where impacts could not be avoided or minimized.
  • Information to conduct an environmental assessment of the proposed project and prepare an Environmental Impact Statement.
  • Information on the existing environment in sufficient detail to allow for post-project monitoring.

Extensive Community Consultation

In addition to consultation between Hydro and NCN’s leadership and Future Development Team, we undertook extensive consultation between NCN leadership and its Members.

In this aspect, we blazed a new trail. From the beginning, this was a community-driven process and one of the most inclusive and comprehensive public consultation processes ever undertaken in Manitoba and with a First Nation.

The scope of activity was based on our desire to involve our Citizens in many ways, including participation in planning and through direct employment to support the process.  In addition, we held two secret-ballot referendums to confirm Citizens’ support for the project.

A Public Involvement Plan set out the consultation process, which began in spring 2000 with an opinion survey of our Citizens and community open houses.

Community Consultants

In early 2000, the Future Development Office employed community consultants to assist in consultation with the wider Membership. These consultants were NCN Citizens including Elders and youth.

They distributed information and assisted with organizing and facilitating open houses, community meetings, small-group meetings and one-on-one presentations.

They answered questions and listened to concerns, which they communicated back to our Future Development Team, Hydro and NCN’s leadership.

The Future Development Office prepared the information they distributed, which included newsletters, information booklets and other documents. Our website and radio broadcasts of relevant information supported their work.

Key pieces of information and documents were translated into Cree and audiotapes were produced to assist the visually impaired or those having difficultly reading.

Consultation with the Wider Public

As part of the Public Information Plan, we also consulted with the wider public to keep them informed about the project and hear their perspectives about it. These groups included:

  • Aboriginal peoples in other communities
  • Other local residents
  • Community groups
  • Environmental groups
  • The private sector
  • Municipal governments
  • Manitobans as a whole
  • Regulators reviewing the project

Wuskwatim Regulatory Processes

Extensive consultation about the Wuskwatim project took place with provincial- and federal-government regulators. This was part of the duty to consult required by Section 35 of the Constitution.

The purpose was to consider how the project might affect Aboriginal rights and treaties before governments consider issuing required licenses and permits.

Representatives of Manitoba Water Stewardship, Manitoba Conservation, Manitoba Aboriginal and Northern Affairs and Fisheries and Oceans Canada gathered information and considered community concerns related to effects on Treaty and Aboriginal rights. Their work included consultation with NCN Citizens and other Aboriginal people in the region potentially affected by the Wuskwatim project.

Manitoba Hydro and NCN, along with a jointly selected Environmental Management Team prepared a comprehensive environmental assessment report on the project for federal and provincial regulators and the Clean Environment Commission, or CEC.

Clean Environment Commission (CEC)

The CEC is an arms-length provincial agency established under authority of the Environment Act of Manitoba. At the request of federal and provincial regulators, the CEC held public hearings in 2004 in Winnipeg, Thompson and The Pas on the Wuskwatim project. The hearings were well attended by NCN Citizens, other Aboriginal people, municipal governments, environmental groups, businesses and other organizations.  In all, 32 days of hearings were held over four months, from March 1 to June 9, 2004.

The purpose of the CEC Hearing was:

  • To examine the justification, “need for and alternatives to” the Wuskwatim Generating Station and Transmission Projects.
  • To examine the potential environmental, socioeconomic and cultural effects of the construction and operation of the projects.
  • To explore the extent and nature of the consultation that was involved in the project.

The CEC issued its report in October 2004, recommending the project go ahead. We were pleased with the outcome.

Environmental and Social Impact Assessments

Comprehensive environmental and social impact assessments were undertaken with results incorporated into design of the Wuskwatim project to ensure only minimal impact on our environment and way of life.

From the intensive consultation process, these assessments were made using both western science and Traditional Knowledge of our Elders and resource users – which is a first. These studies included effects on water, land, air, plants, animals and our people.

Everything we’ve done was motivated by what our people have told us and the needs of our children and our children’s children. We developed our proposal with the greatest respect for our people and our environment.

Comprehensive Study Report

Fisheries and Ocean Canada (F&O) undertook and submitted a comprehensive study of the Wuskwatim Generation Project to the Minister of the Environment and to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency. The study was done as part of a cooperative environmental assessment with the Government of Manitoba.  It concluded that the project “is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects.”

Use of Traditional Knowledge

The Use of Traditional Knowledge in the Development of the Wuskwatim Project

The use of our Traditional Knowledge was instrumental in the selection of a 200-megawatt low-head design for the Wuskwatim generation project, rather than a high-head design, which would have generated 350 megawatts and far greater profits, but also far more environmental damage and flooding – 140 square kilometres .

The low-head design chosen for Wuskwatim created the least amount of flooding of any hydroelectric project ever developed in northern Manitoba – only 0.5 square kilometres – smaller than an average-size golf course. This flooding is just a small fraction of that caused by the CRD, which flooded 760 square kilometres.

The location of the construction camp and access road to the site were also selected using the Traditional Knowledge of our Elders and resource users.  We have also used our Traditional Knowledge in the development of an access-management plan to protect our resources and sacred places around the Wuskwatim dam.

Promoting our Culture

Throughout construction, we offered on-site cross-cultural awareness workshops and counselling for workers on the project, organized by a full-time coordinator and support staff.  Click to download a copy of the On-site Counseling Services brochure used.  Feasts, sweat lodge ceremonies, water ceremonies and other ceremonies were conducted for both the access road and generating station, starting before construction and continuing throughout the six-year construction period. When human remains or cultural materials were found during construction, work stopped to conduct proper ceremonies.

Through active and meaningful consultation, we were able to negotiate a number of benefits for NCN Citizens and other Aboriginal residents of northern Manitoba, now and for future generations.

Benefits of the Wuskwatim Project

Sharing the Profits as Partners

NCN negotiated an agreement designed to ensure the project delivers immediate, short-term and long-term benefits.

NCN has exercised its option to own up to 33 percent of the Generation Project through the Taskinigahp Power Corporation (TPC), which is wholly owned by NCN.

Training and Jobs

Among the first benefits and major accomplishments was securing the Atoskiwin Training and Employment Centre of Excellence (ATEC), an accredited technical school located in Nelson House, intended initially to train NCN Citizens for jobs on Wuskwatim.

In terms of direct project benefits during construction, qualified NCN Citizens were given first preference for jobs on the project. Over 300 NCN Citizens received Wuskwatim-related training through ATEC since 2003 with many obtaining work in Wuskwatim-related jobs over the life of the project.

Contract Opportunities

The project provided opportunities for NCN businesses and joint venture partnerships, which received first preference on contracts for specific components of the project without the need for competitive tendering.

More than $100 million in contracts were negotiated for such things as access road construction, catering and security.

NCN May Receive at Least $3 Million Annually

Assuming NCN takes a 33 percent stake in the Generation Project, in the early years of the partnership, much of the profit from Wuskwatim will be used to pay back loans from Hydro.

However, in the early years NCN will have access to a minimum of about $3 million annually for community programs, from revenues from water power rental and dividend loans.

As the loans are paid off, the annual revenues will increase.

Loans Provided

The Wuskwatim Generation Project final cost is estimated to be about $1.3 billion.

The Wuskwatim Power Partnership will borrow 75 percent of the cost and this will be treated as the partnership’s long-term debt.  The remaining 25 percent will have to be paid in cash by the partners, split proportionally to the level of investment.

NCN’s one-third share of this capital investment is currently estimated around $114 million. But, NCN only needs to come up with $32.7 million, because Hydro will lend TPC the balance of about $81.3 million. As of June 22, when the first generator went into service, NCN had to pay for a minimum of 27.5 percent of project units to maintain its option to move to its full 33 percent ownership by July 2013. By June 22, NCN committed $16.428million which represent about 28.5 percent of units.

Projected Benefits Over Longer Term

Projections of financial benefits over the next 25 years include:

  • About $11.5 million spent to train and employ NCN Citizens in the community and on the project
  • Direct negotiated contracts of approximately $100 million in contracts mentioned above
  • About $5 million in wages to community members for work on the project
  • About $100 million in revenues over the initial 25-year-term of the project.

The total benefits to NCN and NCN Citizens in this period are estimated to be about $216.5 million. Looking farther into the future, once all the loans are repaid, NCN could receive revenues of tens of millions of dollars per year.

Taskinigahp Trust Established

To manage the Wuskwatim revenues, NCN created a new trust called the Taskinigahp Trust that will be similar to the existing Nisichawayasihk Trust.

Profits to Fund Community Programs

NCN’s expectation is that the profits from the project will provide a long-term, independent source of revenue that will help ensure the future well-being of our people and community.

Wuskwatim Implementation Office (WIO)

Wuskwatim Implementation Office Staff

The Wuskwatim Implementation Office was established to coordinate the project for NCN and liaise with Manitoba Hydro, which was responsible for project construction. The office opened in mid-August 2006, just before construction of the Wuskwatim Project began.

The role of the Implementation Office was:

  • To ensure effective implementation of all agreed-to components of the PDA
  • To ensure the PDA commitments in contracts are honoured as specified
  • To ensure all parties fulfil responsibilities to NCN
  • To gather information on project progress and communicate with NCN Citizens
  • To maintain ongoing discussion and liaison with Manitoba Hydro.

Chief and Council named Councillor Marcel Moody as Wuskwatim Implementation Portfolio Holder at the project outset and he held the position throughout construction. He was a former co-manager of the Wuskwatim Future Development Team, which coordinated community liaison and negotiations up to the June 2006 ratification vote.

Norman Linklater served as Implementation Coordinator with the Implementation Office throughout construction. Norman was the other co-manager of Future Development, who along with Marcel both have a comprehensive knowledge of the Wuskwatim PDA process.

The office liaises with directors of the Taskinigahp Power Corporation and Manitoba Hydro representatives.


During peak activities, the Implementation office employed more than a dozen full-time employees at one time including those administering Wuskwatim-related contracts.

The office also coordinated several in-the-field projects that created more than 460 term, contract, part-time and casual positions over the six years of construction. In total, more than 315 individual NCN Citizens benefited from indirect Wuskwatim employment opportunities over the construction period.

The Implementation office also retains professional advisors, such as lawyers, business consultants, engineering consultants and communications consultants when needed.


With construction complete, the role of the Implementation Office has transitioned to other priorities.

Wuskwatim Training and Jobs

Wuskwatim Training

With the Wuskwatim project now complete, most active jobs are of a skilled or specialized nature with few labourer or lesser-skilled jobs available. Training programs for NCN Citizens to prepare for project jobs were available through ATEC, starting before construction began and continuing into the early years of the project. Qualified NCN Members were given preference for jobs on Wuskwatim as part of the Burntwood Nelson Agreement (BNA).

Although Wuskwatim job opportunities are now limited, any qualified NCN Citizens with Wuskwatim experience or skills needed on hydro development projects may be interested in working on the Keeyask Hydroelectric Generation project, which is currently under construction, or the Keewatinoow Converter Station project that is part of the proposed Bipole III direct-current transmission line. NCN Citizens interested in working on these projects need to register or renew their registrations, which can be done in several ways:

Thompson office contact information:
Thompson Centre
North Centre Mall
118-3 Station Road
Thompson MB R8N 0N3

Employment and Training Inquiries: 204-677-6544

Questions? The Job Referral service can be contacted toll free 1-866-332-5077

Wuskwatim Publications

2017-18 Wuskwatim Power Limited Partnership Reports Year in Review Report

2016-17 Wuskwatim Power Limited Partnership Reports Year in Review Report

2015 Wuskwatim PDA Supplement No.2

2012 Wuskwatim Newsletters

2011 Wuskwatim Newsletters

2010 Wuskwatim Newsletters

2010 Project Development Agreement Review Information

2009 Wuskwatim Newsletters

2009 Project Development Agreement Review Information

2008 Wuskwatim Newsletters

2007 Wuskwatim Newsletters

2006 Wuskwatim Newsletters (Post-PDA Vote)

Licences, Regulations, Programs, Policy and Other Related Project Information (Post-Vote) 2006

Project Development Agreement Guidebooks and Information 2006

Wuskwatim Newsletters (Pre-PDA Vote) 2005 & 2006

Canadian Environmental Assessment Act Comprehensive Study Report – October 2005

Fisheries and Ocean Canada (F&O) has completed a comprehensive study of the Wuskwatim Generation Project and submitted its report to the Minister of the Environment and to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency. The study was done as part of a cooperative environmental assessment with the Government of Manitoba.

The study report concludes the project “is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects.”

CEC Report on Wuskwatim – Oct. 4, 2004

The CEC report found Manitoba Hydro and the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation have adequately justified the Wuskwatim projects and concluded they are viable and economic.

Download PDFs of the following:

Summary of Understandings leading to the development of the PDA – 2004 & 2003

Environmental Impact Statements 2003

Manitoba Conservation Submission 2003

On April 30, 2003, three separate submissions were made to federal and provincial regulators along with a Cree Voice-Translation of a PowerPoint presentation based on an Executive Summary.

Agreement in Principle 2001

On September 25, 2001, an Agreement in Principle was signed by NCN and Manitoba Hydro to guide discussions on the development of the Wuskwatim project.

PDF Download of the AIP

Wuskwatim News Archive

News Releases and Related Publications

Pre-PDA Vote (June 2006) – CEC Hearings (February 2004)


  • Powering a Future. Cashing in on Wuskwatim’s billion-dollar generation project, May 23, 2006 – (Former) NCN Chief Jerry Primrose’s commentary on the PDA published in the Winnipeg Free Press
  • ATEC Opening: WINNIPEG – March 30, 2006 – Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation and Manitoba Hydro jointly announced finalization of the Wuskwatim Project Development Agreement (PDA), which formalizes a Hydro-NCN partnership, contracts and other components required for the construction and operation of the proposed $1 billion Wuskwatim Generation Project. Visit the ATEC section for more information.
  • Public Consultation Process: WINNIPEG – March 30, 2006 – Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation will conduct an extensive public consultation process on the Wuskwatim Project Development Agreement (PDA) with its Members in the weeks leading up to the ratification vote on the agreement on June 14 (advance poll June 7), (former) NCN Councillor and Future Development portfolio holder, W. Elvis Thomas, announced today.
  • Key Steps Towards Wuskwatim: WINNIPEG – March 30, 2006
  • Meet & Greet Update on PDA: NELSON HOUSE, February 2005 – NCN Councillor and (former) Future Development Portfolio Holder W. Elvis Thomas presented an update on the Wuskwatim project to Members in Winnipeg, Brandon, Leaf Rapids, Thompson, South Indian Lake and Nelson House. Download the speaking notes from the Meet and Greet update.


  • Response to Call for Forensic Audit: NELSON HOUSE, January 27, 2005 – A January 25 news release issued by the Nelson House Justice Seekers petitioning the Prime Minister and the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development for a forensic audit of the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation, marks a new low in the group’s campaign of misinformation to delay the Wuskwatim project and discredit the First Nation’s administration, (former) NCN Chief Jerry Primrose said.
  • Response to Washington Post: NELSON HOUSE, January 11 2005 –  Chief Jerry Primrose (former) has responded to the Washington Post’s article, titled In the Boreal Forest, A Developing Storm, to provide another perspective on the realities faced by First Nations people living in the boreal forest of northern Manitoba. View the response to the Washington Post PDF (336KB).
  • Province Announces Funding For Training: NELSON HOUSE, January 5, 2005 – Premier Gary Doer has announced funding of $371,700 to support the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation’s (NCN) annual training plan as part of the province’s commitment to the Hydro Northern Training Initiative. View the government news release.


  • Response to Peter Kulchyski: NELSON HOUSE, November 18, 2004 – (Former) Chief Jerry Primrose and Councillor and (former) Future Development Portfolio Holder W. Elvis Thomas have jointly responded to an article written by Peter Kulchyski, which is critical of the Wuskwatim project and the direction NCN is taking in realizing our vision to exercise sovereignty that sustains a prosperous socioeconomic future for Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation.
  • ATEC Sod Turning: NELSON HOUSE, August 18, 2004: Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation and its partners in the Atoskiwin Training and Employment Centre of Excellence (ATEC) today mark the beginning of construction of the non-profit, community-based, fully-accredited, post-secondary training facility at Nelson House, with an official sod turning ceremony. View the Winnipeg Free Press coverage of the event.
  • NCN Youth Presentation: NELSON HOUSE, August 11, 2004 – Future Development Community Consultants to NCN Youth in Nelson House.
  • Nelson House General Meeting: NELSON HOUSE, June 23, 2004 – Over 300 NCN Members registered and attended the General Band Meeting in Nelson House yesterday, to discuss the Wuskwatim project. The meeting heard presentations by Manitoba Hydro and NCN’s Chief and Council. Download a PDF (316KB) release about the General Band Meeting to discuss Wuskwatim. Read the speech by NCN Chief Jerry Primrose to the General Meeting.
  • CEC Hearing Concludes: WINNIPEG, June 10, 2004 – The Clean Environment Commission Hearing on the proposed Wuskwatim Generating Station and Transmission Projects concluded in Winnipeg yesterday, with closing statements by Manitoba Hydro and NCN’s Chief and Council.
  • NCN Chief Jerry Primrose Closing Address to CEC: (Former) NCN Chief Jerry Primrose to the Closing Session of the CEC Hearing in Winnipeg June 2004.
  • NCN Chief Jerry Primrose Opening Address to CEC Hearing in Winnipeg March 2004.
  • Chiefs Support Wuskwatim: WINNIPEG, May 13, 2004 – (Former) Grand Chief Dennis White Bird told the Clean Environment Commission yesterday, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs supported the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation in the development of the proposed Wuskwatim Generating Station and Transmission Project.
  • Summary of Consultation: NELSON HOUSE, March 12, 2004 – NCN’s Future Development Team published an overview of the continuing consultation activities in regards to the Wuskwatim Generation and Transmission Projects.
  • Response to DRISL’S Questions: WINNIPEG, March 9, 2004 – NCN’s Future Development Team has responded to over 100 questions sent to the Clean Environment Commission by the Displaced Residents of South Indian Lake.
  • CEC Hearing: – NELSON HOUSE, February 18, 2004: Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation Chief and Council will take part in the Clean Environment Commission hearing on the Wuskwatim hydroelectric project, which begins March 1 in Winnipeg.