FORT WILLIAM FIRST NATION

1ADDRESS
90 Anemki Dr, Suite 200
Thunder Bay, ON
P7J1L3
2 PHONE
1 (807) 623.9543
1 (866) 892.8687
3FAX
1 (807) 623.5190

You can also contact us by email, please let us know, reception@fwfn.com. Or fill out our online contact form here. Thank you!

OFFICE HOURS

Mon-Fri 9:00AM - 4:00PM
Closed Saturday and Sunday

ABORIGINAL CONSULTATION AND ACCOMMODATION

In a series of decisions dating back to at least Sparrow [R. v. Sparrow, [1990] 1 S.C.R. 1075] the Supreme Court of Canada has found a duty to “consult and accommodate” aboriginal peoples rights and title.

traditional_territoryThis line of cases, along with certain changes to legislation and government policies, has led to the current situation in Canada where First Nations for the first time have the right to be consulted and accommodated for activities on their traditional lands. These “accommodations” run from Impact Benefit Agreements (IBA) to full-blown partnerships on multi-million dollar projects.

Fort William First Nation is a signatory to the Robinson Superior Treaty of 1850 which covers all the land north of Lake Superior to the height of land separating the Great Lakes watershed from the Arctic watershed. The Supreme Court of Canada decision Mikisew Cree [First Nation v. Canada (Minister of Canadian Heritage), [2005] 3 S.C.R. 388, 2005 SCC 69] makes it clear that the duty to consult is triggered whenever a proposed activity may adversely impact on that First Nation’s treaty rights. Fort William First Nation has treaty rights over the whole area of the Robinson Superior treaty area, but for most cases the duty to consult is triggered when the proposed activity occurs in its traditional territory.

 

 

 

 

Chief Peau de Chat of Fort William to Commissioner Anderson in 1849 in answer to the question: How do you come to own this land?

 You ask how we poses this land.  Now it is well known that 4000 years ago when we first were created we all spoke on language.  Since that a change has taken place, and we speak different languages.  You White people well know, and we Red Skins know how we came into possession of this land – It was the Great Spirit who gave it too us – from the time our ancestors came upon this earth it has been ours – after a time the Whites living on the other side of The Great Salt Lake, found this part of the world inhabited by the Red Skins – The Whites asked us Indians, when there were many animals here – would you not sell the skins of these various animals for the goods I bring – our old ancestors said yes.  I will bring your goods.  they the Whites did not say anything more, nor did the Indian say anything.  I did not know that he said come I will buy your land, everything that is on it and under it, he the White said nothing to me – and this is the reason why I believe we poses this land up to this day.

While the duty to consult ultimately lies with the federal or provincial Crown, the Supreme Court of Canada has stated that a Crown can delegate some matters of consultation to private parties, such as industry stakeholders.

In Platinex [Platinex Inc. v. Kitchenuhmaykoosib Irminuwug First Nation [2007] O.J.22l4, 29 C.E.L.R. (3d) 191 (Sup. Ct)] the Ontario Superior Court stated that while the duty in law theoretically remains with the Crown, in reality it may be up to third party proponents to consult with First Nation. The Court also commented that “the issue of appropriate funding is essential to a fair and balanced consultation process, to ensure a “level playing field,” but did not determine the issue of what level of funding would be appropriate due to lack of evidence.

WHAT DOES ACCOMMODATION LOOK LIKE?

Accommodation can run the gamut from mapping traditional values and avoiding them in a forestry operation, through Impact Benefit Agreements (IBA) to full-blown equity partnerships in resource development projects.

Governments are actively promoting arrangements whereby First Nations derive an economic benefit from development on their traditional lands. If you want to do business on First Nation land, you had best be prepared to enter into negotiations with any First Nation that may be adversely impacted by your proposed activity.

Some words about our ancestors

The Ojibway Indians inhabiting Lake Superior (Kitchigami) called themselves the Anishnabe, meaning “first or original people”.  In historic texts they are often referred to as Chippewas, an English corruption of Ojibway, which itself originates from “o-jib-i-weg”, meaning “the people who make pictographs”.  Pictographs, rock drawings and pictograms, rock carvings and birch –bark scrolls were the mediums, other than the oral tradition, by which the records of the Midewiwin Society (Grand Medicine Society) have survived.  Before the arrival of the Europeans our ancestors’ worldview was derived from the “Great Spirit” who had entrusted the land, air, water and all the animals in it for our benefit. Our ancestors saw themselves as the caretakers and guardians of this world. The Shamans of the Medewiwin Society were intermediaries between this world and the spirit world and ministered to the people in health and spiritual matters.

A9R757E- presOjibway society was organised in “dodems”: totemic family clans signified by real or mythological animals. A person’s dodem identified where an individual belonged, whom they could or could not marry, access to hunting grounds. Alliances between totemic clans was necessary to survival, these alliances were often spread over wide ranging territories cemented through  marriage as well as other events such as war-fare, trade or forced  migrations  because of war or the failure of hunting grounds.  A Tribe of several hundred or thousand Ojibway would consist of numerous dodems.

Our ancestors lived off the land, in seasonal migrations between their wintering hunting grounds and fall/summer fishing grounds. We gathered in large numbers at our summer grounds called ‘Nee-bing’ for the purposes of trade, marriage, cementing alliances, ceremonies and feasting. The present day Fort William Reserve was the location of these important gatherings.

The place where our ancestors lived and settled down in the mid nineteenth century, at the western end of Lake Superior, was the strategic centre of the continent. It was the doorway to the west where the famous “Great Carrying Place” or Gichi-onigaming on the Pigeon River was located which was used by our ancestors for several thousands of years. It was also the area where both watersheds (the Great Lakes and the Arctic) could be accessed easily.

In Canada, during the 20th century, the Lakehead became the major transportation llink between east and west.  Great Lakes steamers arrived at the harbour of Thunder Bay and connected to the railway terminus of several railway companies linking the Atlantic coast with the Pacific coast.

Ancient Site near Thunder Bay

pres -A9R7580Archaeological records indicate that the Lake Superior Region was occupied by Aboriginal peoples of several successive cultural traditions for the last 10,000 years. Beginning with the period archaeologists define as the Paleo-Indian or Palano Culture, around 9, 500 Before Present (B.P.) into the archaic period between 5000 B.P. to 3000 B.P, and the Woodland period which lasted until contact in 1500. A good example of this long occupancy is the Cummins’ site just outside of Thunder Bay, which spans all three periods up to 2000 years ago. It was a major tool making centre.

Archaeological evidence also indicates that the early occupants were “quarrying” for tools and mining copper fused in numerous activities including fishing, hunting and even pottery. The copper tools and weapons made by the Indians of Lake Superior were traded far and wide, such artefacts have been located as far east at the St. Lawrence River and as far West as the Saskatchewan River. Aboriginal people of Lake Superior were involved in a sophisticated long distance trade millennia before the arrival of the European.

Ojibway legend has it that we came to Lake Superior from the east seeking the prophesied “food that grows on water” meaning wild rice.

Arrival of Europeans & the Fur Trade in Lake Superior

French traders, explorers and Jesuits were the first Europeans to come into the Lake Superior area in the mid 1600s. Sieur des Grosseilliers and Pierre -Esprit Radisson explored mostly the south side of Lake Superior, now in Minnesota, USA. The “holy grail of North American Explorers the “north-west passage” was one thing they were after , and had heard from other Ojibway that there was such a place on the west end Kitchigami : Gichi-onigaming or Grand Portage  to enter the interior.

The next big event that marked further contact between the Europeans and our ancestors came about in the form of a Peace and Friendship Treaty made between 14 Chippewa Tribes from the Upper Great Lakes invited to a grand council by the Governor of New France, Frontenac  in the name of the Sun King, Louis XIV in 1671.  The French were eager to secure for themselves the rich fur resources of the Great Lakes and access to the “north west passage.”

Daniel Greyselon Sieur de L’Hut was given an exclusive license by Frontenac to the trade of Lake Superior, Kitchigami. (The City of Duluth was named after him.)  In the spring of 1679 de L’Hut  journeyed to Western Lake Superior  in search of the north west passage and founded the first trading post on the Kaministiquia River , at Baie des Tonnere,  now Thunder Bay.

This was followed soon after by another trading Post called Fort Charlotte on Lake Superior near the mouth of the Pigeon River a few miles below the “Great Carrying Place” that became Grand Portage.

For the next 80 years or so the Fur Trade was slowed down and interrupted by a series of  “wars”:

  • The Huron-Iroquois Wars
  • The French and Indian Wars
  • The Sioux –Chippewa Wars
  • The Seven Years War and the American Revolution.

Upper and Lower Canada; 1807 Cary. The significant places of the western route from Lake Superior.

pres-A9R7582

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Impact of the “wars’ on the Ojibway of Western Lake Superior

These events transformed boundaries and regimes in the western end of Lake Superior. By the Sioux-Chippewa wars the Ojibway gained sole control over the trade in the Upper Great Lakes areas, pushing the Sioux further north and west.  Legend has it that to save her people an Ojibway Princess, called Green Mantle, lured a warring party of Sioux down Kakabeka Falls on the Kaministiquia River to their deaths (and her own).

Another major impact was the end of the French Regime in 1760, followed by the British Royal Proclamation in 1763 that all the “Indians” were Her Majesty’s subjects and they and their lands were under Her Protection. By this Act only the Crown could take land cessions from the different tribes of British North America including the Ojibway of Lake Superior, by treaty or other instruments.

A third major impact was the demarcation of the international boundary between the newly created USA & the British Colony by the Treaty of Paris of 1783 which ended the American Revolution.  The Western boundary remained in question for a few more decades after the American Revolution and continued conflict over spheres of influence between the Americans and British in fur trade was finally settled by the Jay Treaty in 1794 by which the Americans gained possession of the land south of the Pigeon River including Grand Portage and Isle Royale.   This latter event had the unfortunate consequence of dividing the Chippewas of Lake Superior between the two countries.

Significance of Grand Portage to the Fort William FN’s History

The Grand Portage Post/ Fort Charlotte   according to many historians was the single most important fur-trade location in the world in the mid 18th Century.  It was the place where every single trade good from Montreal ended up, including rum, provisions, guns, ammunition, cloth, tools and countless other precious items that made up the European side of the fur trade; it was the ‘end of the line’.  Competition for the Fur Trade was fierce and several organised trading companies had establishments there: the North West Company (aka Nor’Westers named as the Mountain ranges of Thunder Bay), the XY Company and other lesser independent traders. It was a permanent village with over 500 people coming and going throughout the seasons.

The significance of “Grand Portage “to the history of the Fort William Indians looms large:  Our ancestors were directly involved in the establishment and running of the biggest Fur trade center in the interior of the continent in the 18th Century.

The Founding of Fort William

A9R7584Following the signing of the Jay Treaty in 1794 which acknowledged American control of the area the trade companies such as the North West Co. were being subject to American taxation, and sought a means to secure a land base on the British Colony side of Lake Superior.    In 1798 the Chippewas of Grand Portage and Kitchigami , who lived on the western shores of Lake Superior sold by deed a tract of land to the North West Co. (NWC) The area so granted was about 120 square miles: a strip  5 miles on either side of the KAM River and 12 miles into the interior up to the he “First Carrying Place” which was Kakabeka Falls. Although this ‘sale’ was contrary to the Royal Proclamation and was not confirmed by the Crown it did not deter the Indians of Fort William from asserting their ownership over and rights to dispose of the land around the KAM River and the coast of Lake Superior.

In 1804 the NWC abandoned the Grand Portage site on the American side and moved their inland headquarters operation to the area described in the 1798 deed. It was named Fort William, after William McGillvray, a Director of the NWC.

Eventually the NW C merged with the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) in 1821.  For a number of reasons this post never thrived the way Grand Portage did in its heyday:  the intense spell of the Fur Trade was over, partially brought about by the decline in fur bearing animals and drops in the European markets.  In addition the transfer to the HBC signalled the end of the importance of this location as a “depot” since the HBC was landing its intercontinental ships at the Moose Factory Harbour in James Bay.  The Michipicoten Post on Lake Superior was by the mid 19th C the main transhipment point with direct river routes linking the interior to Moose Factory.

The Fort William Indian’s Traditional Lands in the British Colony

From this point on the Western Lake Superior Chippewa that were now part of the British Colony were known as the Fort William Indians, now Fort William First Nation (FWFN). A great leader of the Fort William Indians during this period was a Chief called Peau de Chat. He had a great reputation among the traders as one of the best hunters in the district, a not insignificant feat considering that the animal population was in decline by that time due to the pressures of the fur trade.

The Fort William Ojibway lived on the western shore of Lake Superior and in the interior west of Dog Lake. Their wintering areas for hunting and trapping extended north and west  to the western areas of Lake Nipigon and over the height of land in the north into what is Wabakimi Park while the southern area reached along the American border in the interior as far as Lac des Milles Lacs.  Their fishing grounds which they called the “grand fishery” extended from the Pigeon River, including Isle Royale where they had fishing stations up to Nipigon Bay.   These areas were also used by Other Ojibway in the area including the Lake Nipigon Ojibway and the Ojibway near Lake of the Woods and Lac Seoul.  This area was a place where three treaty boundaries and the height of land converge:  the Robinson Superior Treaty (Lake Superior), Treaty No. 3 (Lake of the Woods) and Treaty No 9 (James Bay Treaty, over the height of land).

The Jesuit Mission at Fort William & the Fort William Indian Settlement

A9R7586In 1848 a permanent Jesuit Mission “ Mission de l’Immaculee Conception” was founded on the south side of the KAM  River near its mouth on the opposite shore from the HBC  Post, where the FWFN  had their ‘Nee-bing’ summer gathering place.  The Mission quickly became the headquarters of the most vigorous religious institution on the whole of Lake Superior. Over the next 50 years it grew into a major establishment with a convent school, an orphanage, a Priests residence and a Church.  It is here that our ancestors settled down and farmed in the next half century. Most of the Fort William Indians who lived on the coast had Christianized by the mid 19th Century.

The Jesuits left a lasting legacy to the Fort William Indians on many different levels, not least of which were the records and  journals they kept of the day to day events at the Mission, and of their trips into the interior and along the coast to minister to all the Ojibway of the region. Priests such as Father Chone, Father Fremiot and Father DuRanquet informed some of the decisions of our tribe at pivotal moments of our history such as the making of a treaty in 1850. Based on their accounts the Fort William Indians used lands to the west of the shore abutting into the Lake of the Woods region and also up to the height of land in the north.

An Official Government Commission in 1849 comes to Lake Superior

A9R7588Growing pressures to colonize the North West area of the Province of Canada by the middle of the 19th century prompted the Colonial government to conclude a Treaty with the Indians of both Lakes Huron and Superior. In anticipation a Commission was dispatched to learn who and where the various Tribes on both lakes were and what they might look for in a Treaty. The appointed Commissioners were Alexander Vidal, the Deputy Provincial Surveyor and William Anderson, the Superintendent of Indian Affairs, of the British Colonial Government.  The Commissioners (V & A) met with the Headman of the Fort William, Chief Peau de Chat, the famous hunter and Chief Illinois, (aka John Inninway or Quininway), an older Chief who was the “Fur Trade Chief “at the time. Vidal & Anderson (V & A) determined that there were about 175 Indians at that place, based on conversations with the HBC.

The hunting grounds identified by V & A in 1849 confirmed that the Fort William Indians ranged in territory from the Pigeon River along the shore north and eastward sharing their territory with the Indians of Lake Nipigon. Their description identified three Ojibway tribes on the west and north shore of Lake Superior beginning with Fort William:

 From Pigeon River (the boundary between Canada and the United States) along the lake eastward to Puckuswawsebe, in which the Nipigon and Pic Bands are included; the division between the bands not known, and extending northward and westward to the height of the land, the Province boundary part of a large band adjoining the Pic Band on the north.

A9R758AThe map they drew of the hunting grounds of all the Indians on Lake Superior provides a coastal view of the traditional lands of these tribes, no attempt was made at the time to determine the extent of the interior territory of the tribes other than that it went at least to the height of land.

Everywhere the Commissioners went on Lake Superior they failed to consider the “inland” or interior Indians who were related to the coastal tribes: at Lake Nipigon, at Michipicoten and also at Fort William.  The Fort William Interior or inland Indians came to the shores only seasonally, and spent most of their time in the interior around Dog Lake, and further west towards Lac des Milles Lacs and toward Sturgeon Lake to the north /west of Lake Nipigon. Unlike the Mission Indians who settled the interior Indians were not Christian. They were referred to as “the pagan branch” by subsequent officials.  As late as 1917 a large number of Fort William Indians , about 35 heads of family settled around Dog Lake and in the some of the towns along the  railway line like Savanne  and Raith.

The only true Census of Indians on Lake Superior was provided by a HBC agent, James Anderson in 1850 of the Lake Nipigon Indians. In it he identified every head of family by their “dodem” or clan, and their affiliations with other Indian tribes in the vicinity. Numerous Lake Nipigon Indians were said to have “interests” in the Fort William Indians’ lands, overlapping hunting grounds.

The Robinson Superior Treaty (No. 60) of 1850

On September 7, 1850 Ojibway Chiefs inhabiting the Northern Shore of Lake Superior from Pigeon River to Batchwanna Bay signed a treaty with the Crown at Sault Ste. Marie. A delegation of about 20 Fort William Indians lead by Chiefs Peau de Chat and Illinios, and other principal men, attended the Treaty Council in Sault Ste Marie. Addressing the Ojibway Chiefs were William Robinson, the Treaty Commissioner   and Lord Elgin, the Governor of the Province of Canada. By the terms of the Treaty the Ojibway gave a land cession to Her Majesty of all their Territory on Lake Superior to the height of land with the exception of the lands they chose as reserves. In return they Ojibway received an annuity in perpetuity for every man woman and child in the tribe.

The Fort William Indian Reserve Debacle

The Robinson Superior Treaty as written down described the dimensions of the Indian Reservations on Lakes Huron and Superior in miles, when the Ojibway understood the dimensions to be in leagues. Our ancestors were not really considering miles or leagues but often pointed out landmarks in point to point descriptions of places and distances in the number of travel days.  A reserve of 5 miles by six miles on the south side of the KAM River was set aside for the Fort William Indians. For decades after the survey was made the Fort William Indians Petitioned to have their promised reserve given to them.

A9R758CThis area was on the south side of the KAM River, to leave the other side for the HBC, up to Kakabeka Falls, the “First Carrying Place’ on that River. (Canada and Ontario have both agreed that we did not receive the reserve we were promised. The FWFN is currently in negotiations with both governments to provide compensation for this omission and past grievance.)

At the time of the Treaty our ancestors were also aggrieved that our fishing grounds from Pigeon River to Nipigon Bay were lost including those Islands where we had significant fishing stations.

New beginnings: Fishing

While the fur trade was dying the fishery on Lake Superior thrived and was a key economic activity for the European fur traders (Hudson’s Bay Co and others). This was an economy that was dependent on the Indians as employees, free fisherman as well as packers, curers and other activities related to the transport of large volumes of fish.

The Fort William Indians were active participants in the fishing industry into the 20th Century, even though their fishing territory was no longer exclusively their own. The HBC at Fort William alone consumed 20,000 pounds of salt fish and 7,500 fresh fish in the year 1835-37. Unfortunately, by the time our Fishing Rights were recognised most of the Lake had been fished out. Over most of the 20th century several Fort William Indian families were operating under a commercial fishing licence.

Fort William Indians participate in local Mining, Quarrying & Lumbering

Throughout the last century the Indians of Fort William have been involved in commercial ventures in the natural resource industries both on and off our reserve. Thunder Bay was the site of one of the most successful mining ventures in the late 1890’s: the silver mine on Silver Islet and Sibley Peninsula. $3, 250,000 worth of silver was mined between 1870 and 1884 when the mine was closed. Fort William Ojibway worked in the mine and brought their families to live with them.  In the late 1880’s the Indians of Fort William entered into commercial dealings with a local timber company and sold the timber on their reserve, many were themselves employed as cutters and all received royalties.

Our reserve was the closest and best source of gravel and rock in the vicinity for building the developing town of Thunder Bay (Town of Port Arthur & Town of Fort William back then) and the major railway terminus in the early 1900s. Enterprising members of our band saw the value in the “rock” and trap rock and wanted to buy rock crusher’s to conduct their business.  Though we were inhibited in this enterprise by the Agents of the Indian Department, we nevertheless sold quarrying rights and other aggregate rights to companies and worked the quarries and the gravel pits ourselves while receiving royalties from the sales until the 1950’s.

The Fort William Reserve Farms: Bread Basket of the Region

A9R758EBy the mid 1880’s those Fort William Indians who settled down at the Mission had become very successful farmers. We had raised 123 head of cattle in 1883, cleared hundreds of acres of land, and grew garden vegetables for markets in Town of Prince Arthur and the Town of Fort William. By 1890, 800 bushels of seed had been set aside for the next season.  We competed in the Port Arthur Agricultural Fair and won many prizes for our produce and animals. Farming had become a successful economic way and by 1890 our farms were expanding and a major project to drain swamp land for more grazing lands took place.  In 1894 our ancestors sold over a ton of raspberries.

By the turn of the Century most of our forefathers were integrated into the economic life of the region, and had all but abandoned the “chase” other than for food.  Forty farmsteads lined the south shore of the KAM River comprising about 600 acres of cleared land, including the site of the Jesuit Mission.  Sadly this bountiful and steady means of existence did not last.

Expropriation Calamity of 1905: The forced taking of the ‘homestead’

A9R7590In 1905 the entire village site and some additional land, comprising altogether 1,600 acres was expropriated for railway purposes. It was the single largest railway expropriation in the history Canada, every man woman and child, every house and farm and holdings were evacuated. Unfortunately for our ancestors they had no other arable land to move to because in 1859 the only other arable lands along the KAM river which were on the reserve were surrendered to the Crown, for future sale. (Known as the Neebing Surrender, as it became part of Neebing Township when that was surveyed in 1860, the events of  this surrender form part of a land claim under negotiation with Canada.)

The reason for the expropriation was the building of a Railway Terminus by the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway. This terminus was never fully built and by 1915 non-Indian farmers were using the lands to graze their cattle. This was a terrible time for the Fort William Indians; it was the end of our agriculture community. Once again we had to turn our sights to other means of living.

Fort William Indians, the City of Thunder Bay and other Neighbours

For the last one hundred and fifty years since our reserve was surveyed in 1853, the Indians of Fort William lived beside the growing towns of Fort William and Port Arthur (amalgamated in 1970 into the City of Thunder Bay).  The Indians of Fort William contributed to these growing urban centers in numerous ways. We provided local agricultural goods when there were very few farms in the vicinity; building stone for the construction of railways and building. Many of our quarries were leased to the City of Fort William throughout the 1900s to1950s.  In 1910 we signed a deal with the City of Fort William to sell them the drinking water from Loch Lomond located on the south end of our reserve, via a pipeline. Fort William supplied that city’s drinking water for all the 20th Century.

We have developed business relationships with many companies in the area during the second half of the 20th Century such as Great Lakes Pulp and Paper Company, Hydro Ontario, and Ski Lodges.

In 1917 the City of Fort William wished to put a park on our reserve which we agreed to and surrendered that land which is Chippewa Park.  An article about Chippewa Park speaks eloquently of these changes and evokes the past world of our ancestors.

Night after night on the shores of Thunder Bay, long ago, were heard weird chanting laments of the Indian Braves.  Hundreds of members of various Tribes then made this inlet in Northern Ontario ring with their shouts and songs and the rumbling sound of wooden sticks thudding with monotonous regularity on buckskin tom-toms.  There the Indians went to hunt and that was a site of many a tribal rendezvous.

Daily Times-Journal 1926

Today we consider ourselves equal if different partners in the development of the Lake Head.

Track Record

Fort William First Nation (FWFN) has an excellent record in its dealings with other governments and corporations, even with limited resources. Some of FWFN’s successes are listed below.

FWFN built and is operating three office buildings on Reserve land designated for that purpose. The main tenant of the largest building is Public Works Canada (sub-leased to Indian and Northern Affairs Canada – Regional Office). Main tenants in the second building are the head office of Wasaya Airways, the Royal Bank of Canada and the Union of Ontario Indians. The third building is leased to DILICO Anishinabek Family Care for its main office.

Wasaya Airways has approached FWFN about the possibility of a fourth building that would be used for aircraft equipment service and maintenance.

FWFN regained title to about 1,100 acres of industrial land (formerly part of the Reserve) through negotiations with Canadian National Railway in July 1999. A considerable amount (about 600 acres) of this land is vacant, but parcels are leased to Canadian National Railways for its tracks and a rail/ship (Lake Superior) transfer facility, Coastal Steel Construction Ltd, Sterling Pulp Chemicals Ltd, McAsphalt Industries Ltd and a number of other corporations. The transfer of title from CNR to FWFN was welcomed in the region, especially with regard to the potential for developing the vacant land; at the time, the Thunder Bay Chronicle Journal reported the transfer in a front page story, and published a favourable editorial.

As a first step in developing the first parcel of vacant former railway land, FWFN built an $18 million building for lease to Abitibi Bowater for a sawmill (it was built on-time and on-budget); for its part, the company invested about $60 million in state-of-the-art sawmill equipment. In addition to employment during the construction period the sawmill has about 75 employees (about one-third are First Nation members).

As a first step in developing the first parcel of vacant former railway land, FWFN built an $18 million building for lease to Abitibi Bowater for a sawmill (it was built on-time and on-budget); for its part, the company invested about $60 million in state-of-the-art sawmill equipment. In addition to employment during the construction period the sawmill has about 75 employees (about one-third are First Nation members).

FWFN has positive relations with the City of Thunder Bay. Recently, the City and FWFN have had preliminary discussions about the possibility of a partnership arrangement for using the water pipeline from Loch Lomond that runs through the Reserve. Until several years ago, the pipeline supplied water to the entire City of Thunder Bay, including FWFN. The City outgrew and replaced this supply, so the pipeline is no longer required for municipal purposes, meaning that the water, which is already under pressure, can be made available for industrial purposes.

FWFN has been engaged in preliminary discussions about alternative energy production (bio-fuels, hydro, solar, wind) with Thunder Bay Hydro and also with private corporations.

The FWFN Arena, built about 5 years ago, has two rinks and a fitness centre. The arena is heavily booked by First Nation and non-Aboriginal hockey teams.

The FWFN Community Centre is home to many educational and training programs, is used regularly for bingo (most customers are from the City of Thunder Bay) and has licensed banquet facilities for up to 700.

FWFN is 10 minutes away from the Thunder Bay airport, the main travel hub for north-western Ontario that is known as “the Gateway to the North.” The airport is skirted by the trans-Canada highway. The CNR operates a rail/ship transfer facility on the land transferred to FWFN in 1999. With such close proximity to air/highway/ship transportation facilities and to the City of Thunder Bay itself, FWFN is uniquely positioned to drive First Nation economic development in north-western Ontario.

TOP