By Marci Becking
SAULT STE. MARIE — Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee says that there seems to be a two different sets of standards in Canada in regards to responding to emergency situations and disasters.
“There seems to be two standards,” says Madahbee. “The Nipigon Bridge had a temporary fix within 24 hours and yet the James Street Bridge connecting Fort William First Nation with Thunder Bay has still not dealt with since October of 2013. All levels of government seemed to move very quickly to make sure Canada’s economy wasn’t crippled. The economy, people and services of Fort William First Nation are just as important.”
Today, due to a car accident on the only way into the community, Fort William First Nation was cut off.
“When there was a water boil advisory in Winnipeg it was dealt with within three days…meanwhile we have had communities boiling their water for over 20 years. When the Walkerton water crisis happened – over 100 plants were repaired. It’s infuriating to see the community not getting any response in terms of rebuilding the James Street Bridge.”
Fort William First Nation Chief Peter Collins is fed up.
“I am asking the federal government, the Premier and the Ministry of Transportation to work together and respond to how we can resolve this critical matter,” said Chief Collins. “Time and time again our citizens travelling from the city have been prevented access to the First Nation due to accidents on this stretch of highway. This is unacceptable and needs to stop.”
Fort William First Nation has made several attempts to address the James Street Bridge closure with CN, municipal, provincial and federal ministries and will continue to pursue these avenues to come to a solution. The discussions thus far have not resulted in the development or construction of a new bridge or alternate route.