Youth perspective on tap at nuclear expo

IGNACE – Asked if she feels nervous about giving a presentation at this weekend’s Northwest Nuclear Exploration Event, Daila Delescaille said no.

Instead, the 25-year-old Ignace resident said Friday, “I’m really anticipating being able to talk to the community.

“I don’t think youth have really been outspoken during this process in the last few years, and I want to give a voice to those youth,” said Delescaille, an environmental scientist employed by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization.

“I hear a lot of talk from our older generations in the community saying they want to hear from the younger generations.”

Delescaille said she hopes to “make it known that we are really interested in this process and want to have a voice, and this is our future.”

The Ignace Public School alumna will be presenting Saturday afternoon with a friend who also was raised in Ignace and works in town as a teacher.

“It’s really important for what we say to be heard very loud and clear, because essentially this is going to be affecting us and our children the most,” Delescaille said.

The nuclear exploration event started Friday morning with a smudging ceremony led by a representative of Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation.

A location between the township and Wabigoon Lake is on the industry-funded NWMO’s shortlist for siting a proposed deep geological repository, an underground facility for storing spent fuel from Canada’s nuclear power plants.

The other site under consideration is near Saugeen Ojibway Nation and South Bruce in southwestern Ontario.

The NWMO has said it will choose a site by the end of 2024, with construction of the facility to begin in about 10 years and be completed many years afterward.

This weekend’s community nuclear exhibition precedes a historic community vote.

Ignace residents and property owners 16 and older will have April 26-30 to vote online or in-person on whether their township should “continue participating” or “stop participating” in the NWMO’s site selection process.

Ignace council is to decide whether the township will continue as a potential host community for the repository and report its decision to the NWMO by the end of July.

Besides the youth presentation led by Delescaille, Saturday’s agenda includes an All Voices Panel with representation from anti-nuclear activists and a presentation by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

The dozens of exhibitors include the Canadian Association of Nuclear Host Communities, Environment North, the Township of Ignace, Crossroads Employment Services and the NWMO.

With Chela Inc., the consulting firm hired by the township to conduct a “willingness engagement study” that includes this month’s community vote, has a table in the rec centre’s curling hall.

Chela Breckon, the firm’s owner, said Friday afternoon that the exploration event’s opening “all came together this morning really nicely.”

With Chela staff are available to help people register for the community vote and answer questions about the study, Breckon said amid what she termed “hustle and bustle” at the rec centre.

Elsewhere in Ignace, resident Diana Schmidt said she’ll check out the nuclear event on Saturday but has low expectations.

The NWMO and its allies are “always pushing their agenda but not giving us straight answers,” said Schmidt, who opposes the deep geological repository.

Funding for the exploration event is from the Community Well-Being Fund set up by the NWMO for the township’s use.

The event runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.

Mike Stimpson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source