THUNDER BAY – Seamus O’Regan, Minister of Indigenous Services, issued the following statement regarding the signing of the final Memorandum of Agreement with Cat Lake First Nation:
“Earlier today, Chief Keewaykapow, the councilors of Cat Lake First Nation, representatives from Windigo First Nations Council and I signed the final Memorandum of Agreement, which formalizes the commitments and plans laid out in the Interim Framework Agreement signed on February 21, 2019.
All parties had hoped to sign the agreement in the community of Cat Lake today; however, both Chief Keewaykapow and I were unable to fly out of Sioux Lookout and Thunder Bay respectively due to poor weather conditions. The document was signed by all parties as we met by video-conference.
The final Memorandum of Agreement provides updated funding numbers based on actual costs and represents an investment of up to $12.8 million. It includes:
- $5 million to support the construction of 15 new housing units;
- $2.1 million to support repairs and renovations of 21 existing housing units;
- $3.1 million in support of 10 new modular housing units;
- $200,000 for the community’s new temporary warehouse structure;
- Approximately $2.4 million in support of other associated costs; including site surveying, servicing and inspections; costs associated with transporting materials on the winter road; and hiring a Professional Project Manager, Financial Manager, and Maintenance Manager – Housing.
- A commitment to continue discussions on long-term planning for community development including housing.
I am pleased to say that much of the work agreed to in the interim framework is already well underway. The signing of this Memorandum of Agreement represents an important step to ensure that this critical work continues.
Chief Keewaykapow and I also discussed ongoing challenges, including those posed by recent weather conditions affecting the winter ice road to the community. This is a primary and urgent concern. The Chief and I agreed to stay in close contact to ensure that materials, construction supplies and modular units, especially those already mobilized for delivery from Pickle Lake, will be transported to the community as soon as the winter road is able to take full loads.
We also spoke about ongoing health challenges faced by the community and agreed to continue working together to support the wellbeing of children and all members of the community. As of February 11th, Indigenous Services Canada increased the number of nurses serving the community from 3 to 4, a change that will remain in place indefinitely to address the needs of the community.
I want to thank Chief Keewaykapow, council members, Windigo First Nations Council, Nishnawbe Aski Nation, the Chiefs of Ontario, and the Assembly of First Nations for their commitment and hard work to advancing this work together.
I look forward to viewing the progress underway and celebrating our ongoing partnership when I visit Cat Lake First Nation.”