Brendan Sutherland (who is working in a summer employment position with NORDIK/CAPT) will be making a presentation to the Ontario Aboriginal Students’ Gathering at Algoma U June 24-26. His presentation is entitled: ‘Decolonizing Passenger Rail’. Following the presentation he will be asking the student representatives from Ontario universities to support the efforts of the Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains (CAPT) and the Northern and Eastern Ontario Rail Network (NEORN) to have safe, effective, accessible and affordable passenger train service restored in Northern Ontario.
Students attending postsecondary institutions in Northern Ontario, particularly those in remote First Nation communities experience huge transportation barriers in their travel to and from universities and colleges. For Brendan, an Algoma University student, that barrier was seriously heightened when the Algoma passenger train that he used to take from his home in Hearst, Ontario to Sault Ste. Marie was cancelled in July, 2015. As Sutherland says, “There is no commercial air service to Hearst and it takes 2 days to travel by bus from the Sault to Hearst via Sudbury. If my father comes to pick me up by car he worries about driving from October to March because of the danger of accidents due to weather conditions.”
Sutherland thinks that Aboriginal students will also be interested in supporting the restoration of passenger rail as they are concerned about caring for Mother Earth. Since rail travel creates the least carbon emissions it is a very important way to reverse climate change. He believes they will be very supportive of the Missanabie Cree First Nation-led proposal to operate the Algoma passenger train.
The Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains (CAPT) is a not-for-profit organization comprised of individuals, businesses, First Nations, municipalities and other interests who recognize the significant economic, social, cultural, historical and environmental value of passenger rail servicing and interconnecting the people, businesses and communities of Northern Ontario’s Algoma District to each other, Ontario, Canada and the rest of the world. To accomplish this goal, CAPT has been working with local groups to organize events in the community that utilize the railway as a means of advertising and demonstrating its usefulness in the area.