Building a Symbolic Bridge in Thunder Bay

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Putting out the James Street Bridge Fire
Putting out the fire

Postcard image of the James Street Bridge
Postcard image of the James Street Bridge

Thunder Bay and Fort William First Nation Unity

THUNDER BAY – Editorial – There has been a lot of talk about building bridges lately. The City of Thunder Bay premiered the “Walk a Mile Film Project” on Thursday. An over-riding theme has been building relationships, and building bridges in our community.

There is an ironic symbol that needs to be addressed in this ongoing effort. The James Street Bridge between Thunder Bay and Fort William First Nation remains closed to vehicle traffic. That closure is forcing residents to detour out along Highway 61 and then further miles to Fort William First Nation.

The issue will be the subject of a public meeting on Fort William First Nation on Monday night.

The quietest player has been CN. The bridge is the responsibility of the railway company. CN was quick to ensure that the bridge was safe for rail traffic. It seems once the trains could cross, that the railway simply decided that was enough for now, and have been quiet since then.

An Editorial by Damien Lee: Burning Bridges that started the night of the fire on the bridge outlined how the fires also brought some of the racism out of the shadows. The bright light of the fire pushed away the shadows that some in the community were hiding behind.

Moving forward, if CN remains apparently content with the status quo, it is likely up to Ontario, Fort William First Nation, and the City of Thunder Bay to build a new bridge that will demonstrate the real and important links needed.

The impact on residents on Fort William First Nation, and Thunder Bay, especially business wise are likely to be a hot topic at a meeting on Fort William First Nation on Monday night.

The delay in action by CN is a demonstration that action must be taken. Likely if the bridge was not ‘train safe’ it would be a priority for CN. That it is not is a message being sent loud and clear that demands action.

The fire is out, now it is time to turn the corner and send a strong signal that it is time to move to open the bridge.

James Murray