FORT SEVERN – Heading north from Thunder Bay to Fort Severn takes you to Ontario’s most northern community. Fort Severn is 858 kilometers north of Thunder Bay, and is accessible year-round by air, and for a few short months during the winter, by ice road that takes more than 10 hours to drive to Manitoba border.
Living in Ontario’s most northerly community presents special challenges. One of those challenges is getting in and out of the community, and another is getting reliable delivery of freight and needed supplies.
Working toward solutions, community members and community leadership have started a working agreement with North Star Air for passenger, charter and cargo services. Fort Severn First Nation signed a letter of agreement in October 2016 and joined with other partner communities served by the airline. That letter of understanding also brings Fort Severn into a revenue sharing agreement with North Star Air.
A percentage of every flight for services that NSA provides to the community will now go back to Fort Severn. That revenue sharing agreement has provided in the past two years over 1.2 million dollars back to partner communities. There has been no investment of funds from the communities required by North Star Air to participate in the program.
Fort Severn now joins the North Star Air “Flex Flight” program for passenger services. This new scheduled service will start January 2017 with three flights per week into the community.
The launch of the new service commenced on January 9th 2017 which included a community event featuring fun for the kids as NSA brought up their bouncy castle as well as some delicious treats. There is also a shipment of toys headed north to Fort Severn for the children in the community which will arrive soon.
For communities like Fort Severn, getting vital cargo, food, medicine, and building materials is a critical part of sustaining the community. Air transportation in the North continues to be extremely vital for movement of members and delivery of goods. Climate change, which is impacting the North at a greater degree than southern communities have seen the winter road season become shorter, and weight limits on the northern ice road system reduced further compromise security of supply
Frank Kelner, the President and CEO of North Star Air states, “Building long lasting and respectful relationships providing life-line service with our growing number of First Nation community partners is important to North Star Air. Our team recognizes the social and economic challenges that communities in the far north face every day. North Star Air wants to play an important part in advancing the well-being and quality of life in the North”.
The agreement in Fort Severn comes as a result of community engagement with the airline, as members of the community sought out North Star Air to provide air transportation services into the community.
The company believes in providing solid and reliable service to their customers which will ensure a stable air transporter for the supply chain in order to continue to generate economic growth.
MaryEllen Thomas, Director of Commercial Services, Public Relations, Sales and Marketing for North Star Air says, “We believe that by providing honest pricing, placing safety and reliability first, maintaining steady growth with stable fares and rates, our strategy for all our communities will benefit everyone”.