Fort William First Nation Pushes Back on CN Rail

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Dangers from rail car derailments have women set to block the line near Kenora
Dangers from rail car derailments have women set to block the line near Kenora

The bridge is safe for trains but not cars or people according to CN
The bridge is safe for trains but not cars or people according to CN

“CN has full legal obligation to that agreement…” Chief Georjann Morriseau

FORT WILLIAM FIRST NATION – On Thursday July 3, 2014 officials from Fort William First Nation, the city of Thunder Bay and CN met at city hall to discuss the possibility of opening the James Street Swing Bridge for vehicle traffic. Vice-President of Corporate Services of CN, Olivier Chouc presented a proposal to open the bridge in the short term however based on that proposal Fort William First Nation and the city of Thunder Bay presented a counter-proposal.

Fort William First Nation clearly asserts that there is a 1906 agreement in place and that needs to be upheld.

“CN has full legal obligation to that agreement and they are legally responsible for their bridge,” states Fort William First Nation Chief, Georjann Morriseau. “Although FWFN is not a party to the 1906 agreement with respect to the James Street Bridge, which is now between CN and the city of Thunder Bay, it is imperative for our First Nation that the bridge be reopened as soon as possible”.

CN Trespassing on Fort William First Nation Lands

FWFN asserts that CN is the Trespasser on their lands.
FWFN asserts that CN is the Trespasser on their lands.

Fort William First Nation asserts that “CN is currently trespassing on at least two road allowances that were exempted from the original appropriation in 1906”.

A survey indicating the locations of the road allowances was provided to CN which identifies FWFN reserve land and that CN does not have proper authority to cross them states FWFN in a statement issued Friday.

“Although the 1906 Order in Council speaks to the railway having the right to lay tracks across the lands excepted from the grant, it is our opinion that no compensation was every provided to this ‘right’ and given that the lands are still reserve land today, CN requires an Indian Act S. 28(2) Permit or a S.35 Right of Way to cross our First Nation. CN has neither.” states Morriseau.

“If CN will agree to the suggestions put forward by the city of Thunder Bay yesterday to re-open the bridge, FWFN would consider discussions around the possible proposed solutions necessary to autorize the crossing on reserve lands. FWFN is hopeful that CN will acknowledge their legal duties and obligations to the original agreement along with proposed considerations and open the James Street Swing Bridge”.