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Michipicoten First Nation claims wind farm project on its territory

A Wawa-area first nation says a wind farm company has been consulting with the wrong band about a 60-megaWatt project on the shores of Lake Superior.

The Anishinabek Nation issued a release Thursday saying its northern Lake Superior chiefs had voted to oppose a 36-turbine wind project along Lake Superior’s eastern shore due to “lack of consultation.”

Both the Calgary-based company that is the project’s main proponent, and Batchewana First Nation, which is listed as an “economic partner,” in the project, say they will wait to respond formally to the charge next week.

The Anishinabek Nation, which represents 39 Ontario First Nations, but not Batchewana, says the area in question is within Michipicoten First Nation territory.

Calgary-based BluEarth Renewables Inc., the lead partner in the two-phase wind farm project, is in the process of holding public meetings on its Bow Lake Wind Project, which would generate up to 60mw of electricity.

In Thursday’s release, Michipicoten Chief Joe Buckell calls on the federal government to “address,” the situation.

“It seems that Batchewana First Nation has made a deal with BluEarth Renewables and Batchewana claims that they consider it their area, which is at least 50 kilometres from their reserve,” said Buckell, in a release. “They are ignoring the Robinson Huron Treaty of 1850 where the boundaries are clearly stated.”

Both the company and Batchewana Chief Dean Sayers expressed surprise at the charge, when reached Thursday.

Sayers said Batchewana had been working with Michipicoten on the Bow Lake project, but declined further comment on the Anishinabek Nation’s position.

A Batchewana spokesperson said the first nation will issue a response to the charge in a news conference next week.

A BluEarth official said the company will also respond at the press conference.

“I think we’re just going to take the time to formulate a well-thought-out and formal response to the notice and the allegations and the implications contained there, with our partners,” said Kelly Matheson-King, a vice-president with BluEarth.

Buckell did not return a call to his office Thursday afternoon.

Batchewana is considered an economic partner in the wind farm project, which is expected to generate between 60 and 80 jobs during construction and decommissioning, and up to six permanent positions while the wind farm is operating. The project has been in the works since 2007.