As a part of the ASPIRE Initiative, IGNITE continued its collaboration with ADRA to create The MAPLE Project to work with the youth at Wiikwemkoong.  MAPLE stands for Motivating and Promoting Lifelong Enrichment which is exactly what the project endeavors to do for Canadian First Nation youth.  As the project grows, the IGNITE Team will continue to post updates on the exciting story’s surrounding this project.  If you would like to get involved and/or help, please visit the ADRA website.


For more information on the IGNITE ASPIRE Initiative,  contact us by phone or email.

There are entrenched “ways of doing business” by many public organizations to renew, expand, operate, and maintain infrastructure assets. Unfortunately, these methods are not providing the results many organizations require. New ways of looking at infrastructure are needed even if “we have never done it this way before”.



The New Paradigm 

The design, development, build, finance, operation, and maintenance of infrastructure assets is a complex process. To address this complexity, a paradigm shift in how to approach infrastructure is necessary. The new paradigm requires:

  1. Stakeholders viewed as partners – There are numerous stakeholders who will be involved in the entire life-cycle of an asset. Stakeholders to the asset include individuals and in some case organizations within and external to the public sector entity. Within the public sector organization, it includes administrators, infrastructure specialists, engineers, legal, accounting, and senior decision-makers. External to the public sector organization, it includes for-profit vendors and contractors, funding groups, professionals such as legal and accounting, and regulators. In the past, these various groups viewed each other in a “us vs them” mentality. The new paradigm views each stakeholder as a partner to the infrastructure asset. By adopting this approach, the emphasis is on fair treatment for all partners.
  2. Transparency – By encouraging transparency in all transactions between the various partner stakeholders to an asset, it creates an atmosphere of trust. This encourages long-term and deep partnerships between the various stakeholders. For funding groups, transparency lessens misunderstanding and mitigates risk in their initial underwriting process. For vendors and contractors, a transparent, open, honest approach to solution providing results in procurement processes whose focus in on the best solutions rather than lowest cost. For senior decision-makers, transparency means better information to make long-term decisions.
  3. Long-term perspective – By planning for the full life of an asset, stakeholders look for ways to create sustainability and financial viability of the asset.


It is this paradigm which sets the stage for public sector entities to thrive with infrastructure in the 21st century.  All other secrets require Secret 1 to be in place and effective, prior to moving forward.

To see the next Secret click here.

For all the Secrets click here.

Every school year as spring turns into summer and temperatures soar, we see television news reports of school children and staff members suffering in the heat at schools.  A lack of essential upgrades to school heating and cooling systems are the culprit.  In 2018, the Toronto District School Board reported 78% of its schools lacked air conditioning.  As one measure to address the uncomfortable high temperatures, schools have set up cooling centers in large spaces in each facility, but these measures cost a lot and the funding comes directly from the Board’s repair budget, which is already stretched thin.

Public sector organizations in many places around the globe are looking for better ways to manage, improve, or modernize their infrastructure assets often while budgets have been shrinking. Efficiencies and asset management have improved over the years, but largely the infrastructure sector has operated much the same for over 100 years. Without the sector reinventing itself, many public sector organizations will find it increasingly difficult to meet the challenges of managing infrastructure in the 21st century.

Perhaps the primary barrier to renewing or expanding community infrastructure is financial. Many public sector organizations:

  • Lack their own capital to renew or expand their infrastructure
  • Lack the financial strength to attract capital via lenders without government guarantees
  • May find it difficult to raise capital even if they are stronger financially, because many lenders either do not want to fund infrastructure or do not provide competitive rates for renewal or expansion infrastructure projects

It is no secret public infrastructure in many places around the United States and Canada has deteriorated during the last few decades. Although the severity may vary, public sector organizations such as governments, health care, education, municipalities, and First Nations are finding it increasingly challenging to address issues with their waste, water, power, and building infrastructure. The problems are very complex.


The purpose of this blog is to share many short stories and anecdotes of how we were able to work closely with public sector organizations to solve specific infrastructure challenges. We are looking forward to sharing our experiences over the next while.


“If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.”

Albert Einstein

Walter Manitowabi, Director of the First Nations Sustainable Communities Program of IGNITE Infrastructure Association, presented at the Assembly of First Nations 2017 National Housing and Infrastructure Forum being held in Montreal, Quebec, October 30-November 1. During his presentation, Manitowabi announced the national launch of the First Nations Sustainable Communities Program.

Manitowabi participated in a panel discussion on Skills Development and Capacity Building. The panel also discussed opportunities to support First Nations with innovative project development and financing models. “It is crucial, now more than ever, for First Nations to develop new ways of project development and financing.  The current government programs are broken and have been broken for a long time.  Yes, First Nations do need a national strategy with new delivery models and new federal programming, but until then, First Nations need a new approach to infrastructure – a community driven approach that is supported by IGNITE.”

Innovative Strategy Will Improve Economic Prosperity and Social Well-Being 

October 11, 2017 – Manitoulin Island, Ontario – The Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory, one of the 10 largest First Nation communities in Canada, is honoured to be the first community to participate in the First Nations Sustainable Communities Program, developed by IGNITE Infrastructure Association Inc. (IGNITE). Elected Chief of the Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory, Ogimaa Duke Peltier and Director of the IGNITE First Nations Sustainable Communities Program, Walter Manitowabi, celebrated the official launch of the program in Ontario, as well as the successful completion of Phase One of the Wiikwemkoong project, today at a ceremonial red ribbon event. Endorsed by the Chiefs of Ontario, the First Nations Sustainable Communities Program provides support to First Nations in developing comprehensive, community-driven plans that reflect local opportunities and constraints. Through the program, IGNITE works with First Nations communities to design, build, finance, and deliver project implementation strategies; which are developed collaboratively with First Nations Leadership through needs assessments and comprehensive energy and facility audits.