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August 16, 2021

CNEA donates $240,000 to North Forge East

Photo caption: Joe McBrearty, President and CEO of Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, presents Shane Li, President of North Forge East, with a cheque for $240,000 on behalf of the Canadian National Energy Alliance. Pictured left to right are Blair Skinner, Mayor of Pinawa; Joe McBrearty; Shane Li; and John Gilbert, Head of the Whiteshell Closure Project.

Nuclear consortium announces three-year funding commitment to local business incubator to support economic development in Eastern Manitoba 

Chalk River, ON – August 12, 2021 – Canadian National Energy Alliance (CNEA), a consortium of leading nuclear engineering and management firms that operates Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL), is pleased to announce that it is donating $240,000 to North Forge East (NFE) to support economic development in Eastern Manitoba. The donation raises the total CNEA contributions made to NFE in recent years to nearly $650,000, funding that is being used to encourage entrepreneurship, business innovation, and commercialization in the region.

Joe McBrearty, CNL’s President and CEO, was joined by Blair Skinner, Mayor of Pinawa, John Gilbert, Head of the Whiteshell Closure Project, and Shane Li, President of North Forge East, for a cheque presentation ceremony to celebrate the donation. The funding will be allocated to NFE in the form of annual $80,000 payments delivered over the next three years.

“CNEA is excited to continue to support NFE programs and services, which have already made a meaningful difference in the lives of many local residents here in Pinawa and the surrounding communities,” commented Joe McBrearty on behalf of the CNEA Board of Directors. “As the decommissioning of Whiteshell Laboratories progresses, CNEA has a responsibility to help bring economic opportunity to the region. NFE not only helps local residents start their own new businesses, but it also helps these companies grow and penetrate new markets, all of which can stimulate the local economy. We’re proud to be a partner in that work.”

North Forge is a non-profit organization that supports new business start-ups in the Province of Manitoba, and the NFE division was created to help incubate new businesses in the Pinawa region due to the Whiteshell closure project. According to NFE, the new funding will be used to support ongoing operational costs and to continue to help encourage economic growth and opportunity for the local economy by supporting local entrepreneurs who are working to establish and grow sustainable businesses.

“Over the past five years, CNEA has invested $400,000 towards NFE programs, which has helped to support 43 new start-up proposals, 30 of which continue to make strong progress with their business plans,” commented Jack Craig Jr., Chair of the CNEA Board of Directors. “And some of these start-ups are moving directly to Pinawa to launch their new companies, which creates employment and helps grow the local economy, just as the program was designed to do. We hope to build on this success with this new three-year funding commitment.”

To date, participation in NFE’s programs have far surpassed the organization’s original estimates, and the incubator recognizes the important role that CNEA’s funding has played in that progress.

Blair Skinner, Mayor of the Local Government District of Pinawa and Board Member of NFE is also very appreciative of the ongoing support from CNEA and CNL. “CNEA has provided funding for North Forge East since its inception in 2016, which has enabled the NFE team to exceed our forecast for attracting entrepreneurs and encouraging people to move to Pinawa to start their businesses,” explained Skinner. “In addition, NFE President Shane Li has established a provincial pipeline for international entrepreneurs through the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program, and a federal pathway through the Start Up Visa program. NFE is also a member of the National Angel Capital Organization and recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Futurpreneur Canada, which has already led to the referral of new clients to the region.”

“All of these opportunities were made possible by CNEA donations, and the community of Pinawa is very grateful for another three-year funding commitment to maintain the momentum of this very important project, which helps to diversify the economy of Pinawa and our neighbouring municipalities,” added Skinner.

Despite the many challenges caused by the pandemic over the past two years, NFE continues to support and guide entrepreneurs in the growth, digital transformation and trade of their products and services. Among the assistance currently available to local communities, NFE delivers mentorship, networking workshops, grant assistance, market intelligence and rapid prototyping, all of which is led by experienced mentors and subject matter experts. Past funding from CNEA has been used by NFE to deliver these services to residents in Pinawa and neighbouring municipalities.

In 1998, the Government of Canada announced the closure of the Whiteshell Laboratories and decommissioning activities have been underway since then. CNL manages the site on behalf of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), and is currently decommissioning the campus, which is scheduled to close by 2027.

If you’d like to learn more about North Forge East, please visit For more information on CNEA, please visit

About CNEA 

The Canadian National Energy Alliance (CNEA) brings together the proven leadership and management approaches from SNC-Lavalin, Jacobs, and Fluor – the world’s leading engineering and technology companies. CNEA was formed to respond to the Government of Canada’s procurement for the management and operation of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited’s (AECL) nuclear laboratories. The procurement addresses three key objectives for the Government of Canada, including the management of Canada’s radioactive waste and decommissioning responsibilities, ensuring that Canada’s world-class nuclear science and technology capabilities and knowledge continue to support the federal government in its nuclear roles and responsibilities, and providing industry with access to nuclear science and technology expertise. CNEA was formed to safely transform Canadian Nuclear Laboratories and secure Canada’s role in the global nuclear marketplace.


Media Contacts: 

Canadian National Energy Alliance
Lou Riccoboni, Vice-President


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