First Nations economic impact on Thunder Bay raised by NAN
Nishnawbe Aski Nation is planning an open house for April 19 to identify the economic impact NAN and its associated organizations have on Thunder Bay.
“Sioux Lookout would be a ghost town if it wasn’t for Aboriginal people,” said Deputy Grand Chief Goyce Kakegamic. “And in the city of Thunder Bay, you would be surprised when you begin to analyze how many Native people are in the city that contribute to the economy of Thunder Bay.”
Kakegamic said there are more than 30 Aboriginal organizations in Thunder Bay, including Oshki-Pimache-O-Win Education and Training Institute, Nishnawbe Aski Development Fund, Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service, Matawa First Nations and Wasaya Airways.
Kakegamic said the employees of the Aboriginal organizations in Thunder Bay earn millions of dollars while some of the organizations pay significant rents for their office spaces and others pay property taxes on their office buildings. He also noted that Wasaya owns three different companies in Thunder Bay.
“Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School, how many staff do they have?” Kakegamic said. “They own the building, so they are paying (property) tax.”
Kakegamic said Keewaytinook Okimakanak owns two buildings in Thunder Bay.
“We spent hundreds upon thousands of dollars for secondary students to go to high school,”
Kakegamic said about his former employer, Keewaytinook Okimakanak Secondary School Services.
Kakegamic began looking into the issue after hearing concerns about NAN community members being a “drain” on Thunder Bay.
“I don’t know what kind of glasses they are wearing to see the reality of how much we are contributing,” Kakegamic said. “So it’s more like public education. I firmly believe in public education; that promotes empowerment and understanding between the two cultures.”
Kakegamic said the open house location was chosen to provide the public with an opportunity to see the DFC students in school.
“So it’s basically promoting awareness where we are and to promote tolerance and understanding of who we are,” Kakegamic said.
Although NAN is concentrating on their own organizations in the open house, Kakegamic estimates that the other Aboriginal organizations in Thunder Bay would be spending triple the amount of the NAN organizations.
“I think it would be nice to work together as First Nations, (Thunder Bay Indian) Friendship Centre, Treaty Three, Union (of Ontario Indians), Robinson Superior — let’s come together,” Kakegamic said. “That would be amazing. But now we are just going to start with NAN.”
Email to a Friend
add to del.icio.us