Missanabie Cree First Nation
174B Hwy 17B
The Honourable Lisa Raitt, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Transportation
House of Commons
Dear Minister Raitt,
Subject: follow-up re: our letter of March 4, 2014 concerning the Algoma Central Railway funding
Once again I have been mandated by the First Nation Chiefs of the Northeast Superior Regional Chiefs' Forum (NSRCF) to write to you about the urgent need to continue the Remote Rail Program funding for the Algoma Passenger Train. As stated in our March 4, 2014 letter to you, before announcing cancellation of funding, there was no free, prior and informed consent of our First Nations as required under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Aboriginal Peoples (UNDRIP), and no consultation in support of discharging the need to accommodate Aboriginal rights in cases of infringement, as supported by numerous Supreme Court of Canada rulings. Furthermore, since then you did not respond to our request for your staff to contact the NSRCF Duty-to-Consult Coordinator to set up a meeting with the Chiefs to discuss this issue. This meeting would have included consideration of the NSRCF Conservation Economy research done to date for the Chapleau Game Preserve (CCSP) that includes optimizing railway lines in the region in support of value-added tourism.
Since that letter of March 4, 2014, the NSRCF has played an important leadership role in the ACR Stakeholders Working Group, as myself being the the representative. We have participated actively in the development of a sustainability plan for a renewed and improved Algoma passenger train. In partnership with the municipalities and stakeholders, we have formulated plans for developing train-in Anishinaabe cultural-based tourism products in our traditional territories through which the ACR travels. Tourism research indicates that there is an increasing demand for tourism products based on First Nation cultures and remote wilderness settings that are not road-based. Our traditional territories accessed by the Algoma train are ideally located for the development of these tourism products.
Our First Nations are also in the preparatory stages for participating in forestry and mining projects all on the ACR corridor. Members of our First Nations expect to become employees of these businesses and wish to use the passenger train between their homes and work sites in this remote area that has no road access.
The land on which the ACR was built over 100 years ago was taken without our agreement. Nor did the railway serve us well. Now is the chance for your government to right that wrong by ensuring that the passenger service plays its important role of infrastructure for the regional economic development of the NSRCF First Nations.
By continuing the transition funding for the passenger service, the federal government will be supporting First Nation economic development.
We urge you to provide the transition funding of $7 million for the next 5 years.
Thank you for your kind consideration of this important request.
Chief Jason Gauthier
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