TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - June 21, 2017) - With First Nations communities throughout Northwestern Ontario struggling with a host of issues from lack of access to reliable power to economic and social hardships, FortisOntario Inc. announced a contribution today to help kick start a funding campaign to build a youth centre in Wapekeka First Nation.

Today's donation comes on the heels of the tragic suicide of a 12-year-old girl earlier this month – the third youth suicide to hit the small community of 400 people located about 450 kilometres northeast of Sioux Lookout this year.

Scott Hawkes, President and CEO of FortisOntario, says he hopes the donation will help to jump start a fundraising campaign to help build a youth centre focused on prevention and access to appropriate interventions and mental health support.

"We need this facility for our children and youth as they have no place to go," says Brennan Sainnawap, Chief of Wapekeka First Nation. "So we are just going to go ahead and build it."

"National Aboriginal Day is a day to celebrate the diverse cultures and contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples, but the recent tragedies in Wapekeka clearly demonstrate we still have a long way to go when it comes to capacity building in First Nations communities," says Scott Hawkes, President and CEO of FortisOntario. "As a company currently working with 22 First Nations communities who have partnered with us to form Wataynikaneyap Power to develop new transmission facilities to connect remote First Nation communities in Northwestern Ontario, we are committed to the communities in which we operate and the wellbeing of the people who live there, and today's small donation signals our commitment to helping these communities."

The community youth centre is expected to be just over 3,000 square feet and cost in excess of $0.5 million in materials and transportation alone, not including construction costs.

About FortisOntario:

FortisOntario is an electric utility, which owns and operates Canadian Niagara Power Inc., Cornwall Street Railway Light & Power Company Ltd. and Algoma Power Inc., serving a combined 65,000 customers. FortisOntario also owns regulated transmission assets with approximately 3,430 km of distribution and transmission lines. FortisOntario is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Fortis Inc. (TSX:FTS), with total assets of approximately CAD$28 billion and fiscal 2015 revenue of CAD$6.7 billion, serving more than 3 million customers across Canada, the United States and the Caribbean. For more information, visit or

Contact Information:

Media Contact:
Kristine Carmichael
Director of Corporate and Customer Services
FortisOntario Inc.

Margaret Kenequanash
Chair, Wataynikaneyap Power & Executive Director
of Shibogama First Nations Council