Union Gas helps empower First Nations youth by enhancing skills, environmental knowledge

$10,000 Centennial grant supports Walpole Island Eco-Keepers program

WALPOLE ISLAND, ON, Sept. 25, 2011 /CNW/ - A First Nations program that gives students the chance to work with environmental researchers studying their community's rich ecosystem is getting some help from a Union Gas grant awarded as part of the company's Centennial celebrations.

The Centennial Signature grant of $10,000, awarded to the Bkejwanong Eco-Keepers (BEK) program, is one of 10 being handed out across the province to support charitable and non-profit projects focused on environmental education, conservation and research. The grants are one way the company is marking its 100th anniversary of providing safe, reliable and affordable service to customers and communities across Ontario.

The BEK program is a summer environmental education and work experience for the youth of the Walpole Island First Nation. Through the program, students at the high school and post-secondary level work with biologists, researchers and environmentalists who are studying the rare flora and fauna that are part of the diverse ecosystem of this southwestern Ontario island on the north shore of Lake St. Clair, at the mouth of the St. Clair River.

The program aims to expose participants to a broad range of career and educational opportunities in the environmental field. It is also designed to help students develop the knowledge and skills to take part in Species at Risk stewardship programs, which improve the habitat and life of species at risk on Walpole Island. One of the program's goals is to empower the youth of the Walpole Island First Nation to be positive role models and give back to their community.

The Union Gas grant, awarded earlier this year to ensure funds were in place for the 2011 summer program, was recognized today by the Walpole Island First Nation at the annual Walpole Island Fall Fair.

"We believe in investing today to ensure a bright tomorrow. That means supporting young people and being environmental stewards. Through our grant to the Bkejwanong Eco-Keepers, we are doing both," said Lindsay Boyd, Manager of Municipal and Aboriginal Affairs at Union Gas, who attended the fair on behalf of the company. "We built our reputation as one of North America's premier natural gas storage, transmission and distribution companies in partnership with the communities we serve, and we are very pleased to mark our Centennial by supporting this unique community program."

"Without the support of 'good corporate neighbours' such as Union Gas, our summer program would be very limited," said Joyce Johnson, executive director of the Walpole Island Heritage Centre. "The Union Gas contribution enabled us to send three of our post-secondary students to a Leadership Training program in North Bay this past May.  In addition, the sponsorship has allowed us to expose our students to working in the field with biologists, researchers, and environmentalists who have come to study our rich and vibrant ecosystems."

Union Gas, a Spectra Energy Company, was founded in 1911 through the amalgamation of three southern Ontario local gas distribution companies. Today, Union Gas, named one of Canada's Top 100 employers in 2011, is the second largest natural gas utility in Canada, serving 1.3 million customers across Ontario.

Union Gas strives to be the partner of choice for communities, which includes building long-term, productive relationships with First Nations and the Métis based on mutual respect and economic opportunity. The company is committed to identifying business development and procurement opportunities that support Aboriginal communities by creating jobs, introducing training opportunities, or addressing the social or economic needs of a particular community. For example, Union Gas offers scholarship and funding opportunities, a payments-in-lieu of taxes policy to compensate all Aboriginal communities impacted by Union Gas pipeline expansion, and undertakes employee training to educate Union Gas employees about Aboriginal issues.

Leading up to the company's 100th anniversary on December 19, a year-long Centennial celebration is rolling out across the province, bringing together employees, retirees and community residents. Visit uniongas.com/centennial for more information.

About Union Gas

Union Gas Limited, a Spectra Energy (NYSE: SE) company, is a major Canadian natural gas storage, transmission and distribution company based in Ontario with assets of over $5.6 billion and approximately 2,200 employees. For more information, visit uniongas.com.

SOURCE Union Gas Limited

For further information:

Andrea Stass
Manager, Public Affairs and Media Relations
Union Gas Limited
Ph: 519 436-5490 or 1-800-571-8446 ext. 5490
Cell: 519 365-1010
Fax: 519 436-4621
Email: astass@uniongas.com


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