Province invests in local, regional Indigenous transportation initiatives

The province is providing funding to help First Nation communities with transportation.

On June 13, MPP Kevin Holland announced the Thunder Bay Friendship Centre, Marten Falls First Nation, and the Red Rock Indian Band are set to receive $225,000 in funding from the Ontario government to enhance transportation infrastructure.

The funding is provided through the Indigenous Transportation Initiatives Fund (ITIF) to support economic growth, mobility and transportation safety in First Nations communities across Ontario.

Speaking with Dougall Media on June 19, Holland outlined how this funding will be used by the groups involved – which will each receive around $75,000 – and how improvements in infrastructure stand to benefit vital quality-of-life services.

He also touched on the importance of inclusivity, collaboration, and economic reconciliation.

“It further demonstrates our government’s commitment to working with First Nations communities to explore opportunities for them as we see some of the potential development that could exist in our region. It’s all about making sure that we’re including the Indigenous and First Nations communities early-on in the process to recognize what opportunities there are for them,” he said.

Marten Falls, for example, will be using its portion of the funding to purchase a delivery truck to transport food from Thunder Bay back to the Adawegamik community store – which celebrated its grand opening in October.

Holland mentioned that Marten Falls will also be looking at ways to partner with other First Nations in the Northern region when it comes to the transportation of goods.

Moving onto the Red Rock Indian Band, Holland said the Red Rock Indian Band will use the ITIF funding for ongoing development of the port in Red Rock.

“This grant money is going to aid them in the planning for that and doing some of the research by allowing them to survey the rail connection, develop a geotechnical and engineering report, restoring rail-beds and completing a rail engineering plan,” Holland said.

“(Redeveloping) the deep sea port there will open up opportunities for industry to utilize the port in Red Rock for shipping any number of resources – whether it be raw or natural resources . . . I know it’s been something that Red Rock has been working on for quite a while and it looks like, in cooperation with the Red Rock (Indian Band), they’re really moving the project forward.”

The Thunder Bay Friendship Centre is putting its funding towards a transportation program for Elders enrolled in the Lifelong Care Program to help them get to-and-from medical appointments and programs across the city.

“This (is) to setup a more long-term, viable transportation system for them,” Holland said.

He discussed the need for strong partnerships in the North to unlock the potential for further growth in a respectful and sustainable way.

“It’s all about engaging . . . getting people talking, even across agencies. It’s so important to bring people together in a discussion to see what we can learn from each other and how we can better collaborate and use the resources available to us in a better way. I'm not suggesting that it’s not being done well but is there something we could be doing to improve the outcomes?” Holland said.

Austin Campbell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, SNnewswatch.com