The Algoma Passenger Train Working Group, under the leadership of Chief Jason Gauthier (Missanabie Cree First Nation), is optimistic about the return of passenger service between Sault Ste. Marie and Hearst on the Algoma Central line. Here is why:
- A few days before Christmas, Chief Gauthier and Al Errington traveled to Ottawa for a progressive joint meeting with Transport Canada (TC) and Ministry of Indigenous & Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) senior officials, as promised earlier in 2016.
- BDO Canada Ltd. has been hired using INAC funding received before Christmas to develop a new business plan.
- Chief Gauthier met with CN in Toronto the first week of this month to discuss important information required for the business plan.
After the detailed discussions with TC, INAC and CN, we are much clearer as to what has to be done to get the train back in service. The relationship with Transport Canada and CN Rail has progressed to being open and even collaborative with regard to supporting a First Nation solution and operation of the Algoma passenger train. The relationship with INAC has been supportive of the Missanabie Cree First Nation exploring this opportunity from the beginning.
We understand how very upsetting and difficult this long process is for hundreds of train passengers and businesses. We hope you will continue to have patience and optimism as we are definitely making progress. Chief Gauthier states: “I continue my commitment to leading the process of restoring passenger service through the new ‘Mask-wa Oo-ta-ban (Bear Train)’. This economic development project for our First Nation fits totally within the stated priorities of the federal government: reconciliation through First Nation economic development/job creation; reduction of carbon emissions to fight climate change; and regional economic development.
Chief Gauthier and the working group thank everyone for their support through signing petitions, making donations, volunteering their time and attending town hall meetings. We also thank INAC for their critical support of the business plan development, and we thank both CN Rail and Transport Canada for the changes in dialogue to exploring Missanabie Cree First Nation’s Mask-wa Oo-ta-ban Algoma passenger train initiative to support economic and employment opportunities for First Nations and the regional communities, businesses, residents and stakeholders.
Although much of the information from meetings is confidential, we will provide ongoing updates of public information as we progress toward our goal of having service restored by this summer.