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Hydro One energizes life in northwestern Ontario

Conceived during the pandemic, Hydro One’s Energizing Life Community Fund supports community-led initiatives for the rural and remote north.
Hydro One transmission line photo 1

See a need, fill a need seems to be the motto of Hydro One’s initiative to support communities across the province that promote physical, emotional, and psychological safety and wellbeing for Ontarians.

Jay Armitage, vice president of marketing and communications at Hydro One, said the company's Energizing Life Community Fund was cultivated from the various partnerships with services that provide charitable donations across Ontario, like Scouts Canada and Feed Ontario.

However, Armitage said during the pandemic, Hydro One’s community investment team found there were many organizations, municipalities, and First Nations communities sharing stories about the demand for funding projects for community-led initiatives that promoted physical, emotional, and psychological safety.

Through those stories, Hydro One pivoted toward localizing its Energizing Life Community Fund.

“What we started to understand was that they were these local organizations who really know the gaps that are in their communities and they know how to fill them,” said Armitage.

Armitage said that their selections for who receives the funding must meet a specific set of criteria. For example, organizations must have the incentives to push for positive changes that focus on safety. She also acknowledges that the term safety can be pretty broad.

"You’ll see in the organizations in the northwest that we are looking at and beyond, it could be about inclusion. It could be about revitalizing a community centre. It could be about trying to help farmers struggling with mental health," she said.

Recently, the Energizing Life Community Fund provided $25,000 to organizations including the Atikokan Public Library to upgrade their Children’s Literacy Centre and purchase Ukrainian language resources for the recent newcomers who have settled in the community.

The Northwestern Ontario Metis Child and Family Services also won support for its YouPower program aims to foster healthy emotional and social development in youth across Canada.

The Regional Food Distribution Association of Northwestern Ontario received funding for its Food Literacy Program. The funding will be directly put towards developing resources and increasing food literacy, focused on reducing diet-related chronic illnesses in the North.

Lac des Milles Lacs First Nation received funding for their Learn to Swim programm, which will provide swimming lessons for all grades for one semester in each school year. 

George Jeffrey Children’s Foundation will use its funding to replace all the computers at the centre for children to use while they are receiving care.

Wauzhushk Onigum First Nation received  funding for its initiative to revitalize the community’s roundhouse, including the addition of running water, a sewage system, accessibility features, a heat source and upgraded lighting. 

Armitage said that they look for those unique situations that a provincial program isn’t going to cover.

“It’s so critical,” said Armitage. “It’s that rethinking about really addressing a local need, and sometimes there really isn’t a one-size fits all, and that’s what we are looking for in these applications.”

Clint Fleury

About the Author: Clint Fleury

Clint Fleury is a web reporter covering Northwestern Ontario and the Superior North regions.
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