Ontario First Nation asks federal government to replace aging ferry

OTTAWA -- An Ontario aboriginal community on an island in the southeastern portion of Georgian Bay is in danger of losing its only link to the outside world -- an aging ferry the chief of the Beausoleil First Nation says is on the verge of sinking.

See Full Article

Beausoleil, about 5,400 hectares of Ojibwa territory, is located primarily on Christian Island.

The picturesque First Nation -- widely considered to be one of the real-life backdrops in "The Orenda," the critically acclaimed novel by author Joseph Boyden --is dependent on the ferry, which makes its hour-long round trip to the island and back 14 times a day, seven days a week.

The service is the community's lifeline, according to its chief Roland Monague, because it's the only way to access the mainland.

"Our people have to cross day to day to get access to all the goods and services as well as hospitals, medical appointments," he said.

Beausoleil First Nation is not alone in its accessibility struggle -- the federal government is facing great pressure from a number of First Nations, many of them in remote locations, that are struggling to address crumbling infrastructure.

Optimism is growing, however, among First Nations communities across Canada -- along with a competing list of demands -- now that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has vowed to reform Canada's relationship with Aboriginal Peoples.

The federal response on the Beausoleil ferry issue will help determine whether that commitment carries weight, Monague said.

"They promised to have a nation-to-nation relationship with First Nations," he said. "So tell me -- if this is not approved, what is our nation-to nation relationship?"

Federal funding for infrastructure in communities will facilitate economic development and increase access to health services and education, according to Ontario Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief Isadore Day.

Many reserves have inferior water systems, if they have water systems at all, and rely on winter roads because they do not have access to all-season roads, Day said. It's difficult to determine needs without a complete economic assessment, he added.

Beausoleil's 65-year-old vessel -- the M.V. Sandy Graham -- was purchased by the government in 1998 as an interim measure to transport passengers and vehicles.

It is no longer safe and a replacement is urgently needed, Monague said.

"They have a fiduciary responsibility to us as First Nations for health and safety," he said. "Without a proper, safe, viable transportation for the community, we are going to be in a predicament soon."

Peggy Smith, an associate professor at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ont., said the new Liberal government will need to look at collaborating with communities instead of reaching conclusions from "on high."

"What's wrong with the way that we are making decisions about infrastructure in First Nations? ... It is about the decision-making model," she said, noting investments shouldn't always be looked at "as a sink."

Much of Canada is struggling with infrastructure, Smith added, but she said First Nations remain even further behind.

"We've got this failing infrastructure at all levels and how the government is going to figure out what is priority and what is not, I have no idea."

Beausoleil's ferry has been a long-standing issue -- it was slated for replacement when the federal Liberals were last in power, but the plan was dry-docked by the former Conservative government in 2007.

Replacing it is expected to cost $30 million, said Monague, who made a personal pitch to Finance Minister Bill Morneau during meetings last month with the AFN. Morneau's office would not comment on the request.

"If the government can't commit, then we have to strategize and do this on our own," Monague said. "I, in good conscience, can't continue to sail this ferry knowing that tragedy could happen out on that water."



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Iran summons U.K. and Norway ambassadors amid violent unrest

    World News CTV News
    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Iran's Foreign Ministry said Sunday it summoned Britain's ambassador to protest what it described as a hostile atmosphere created by London-based Farsi language media outlets. The move comes amid violent unrest in Iran triggered by the death of a young woman in police custody. Source
  • Flashes of bold UN talk on feminism, masculinity, patriarchy

    World News CTV News
    Few men in power have delved deeply into gender equality on the main stage of the United Nations this month, but the ones who did went there boldly: claiming feminist credibility, selling "positive masculinity" and resolutely demanding an end to The Patriarchy. Source
  • Winter's approach sets clock ticking for Ukraine, Russia

    World News CTV News
    KYIV, Ukraine - The onset of autumnal weather, with rains making fields too muddy for tanks, is beginning to cloud Ukraine's efforts to take back more Russian-held territory before winter freezes the battlefields, a Washington-based think tank said Sunday. Source
  • Nova Scotians take stock in aftermath of Fiona

    Canada News CBC News
    Many Nova Scotians will be spending part of Sunday in temporary shelters, making insurance calls, revving up chainsaws and wielding rakes as they clean up after post-tropical storm Fiona. The storm raged through the province on Saturday, downing trees and power lines, flooding homes and washing out roads, and leaving more than 270,000 Nova Scotia Power customers without electricity on Sunday morning. Source
  • Age and immigration: 'Very difficult' for applicants once they turn 40

    Canada News CTV News
    Canada is credited for having one of the world’s most immigrant-friendly policies, ranking fourth internationally in the Migrant Integration Policy Index. But the criteria used to prioritize applicants based on age leaves many at a disadvantage, even though they might have the qualifications Canada is looking for. Source
  • Polls open in Italy, where voters could bring far-right to power

    World News CBC News
    Italians were voting on Sunday in an election that could move the country's politics sharply toward the right during a critical time for Europe, with war in Ukraine fuelling skyrocketing energy bills and testing the West's resolve to stand united against Russian aggression. Source
  • Can new legislation help 'Lost Canadians' be found again?

    Canada News CBC News
    When Pete Giesbrecht was summoned to his local police station on Halloween 2015, he had no idea he was 30 days away from being deported. His crime? He had not reaffirmed his Canadian citizenship before the age of 28 under a complicated, confusing and not well publicized section of the Citizenship Act. Source
  • From HP sauce to Burberry, the future of the Queen's endorsements is up in the air

    World News CBC News
    Around the world, the kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms of the population have something in common with many of the United Kingdom's royal palaces. They are often stocked with the same items personally selected by Her Majesty The Queen and other members of the Royal Family, marked by what's known as a royal warrant. Source
  • Canada boosts capacity of key supply hub for weapons to Ukraine

    World News CBC News
    Defence Minister Anita Anand says Canada is boosting its capacity at a key transportation hub in Scotland, so weapons and other supplies can more easily be shipped to Ukraine and other countries in eastern Europe. Canadian forces have been responsible for delivering four million pounds of cargo since March, and the Prestwick, Scotland hub will now be expanded into an air mobility detachment with a third CC-130 aircraft and 55 Canadian Armed Forces members present. Source
  • South Korea says North Korea test-fired missile toward sea

    World News CTV News
    SEOUL, South Korea - South Korea's military says North Korea has fired at least one unidentified ballistic missile toward its eastern sea. South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff on Sunday did not immediately say what type of missile it was or how far it flew. Source