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News Briefs

Wednesday April 16, 2014

Fort Severn house fire under investigation

One woman has died after an early morning fire burned down a home in Fort Severn First Nation on March 31.

Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service (NAPS) began an investigation at the Fort Severn Detachment following the report of a residential fire. Police confirmed that several occupants escaped the fire and that one individual was unaccounted for.

Police confirmed that one body was recovered from the residence and a post-mortem examination was conducted on April 3 in Kenora.

The investigation is continuing with the NAPS North West Region Crime Unit, the OPP Identification Unit, and the Ontario Fire Marshall.

It is the fifth fire-related fatality in a First Nations community in northern Ontario in recent weeks after a house fire in Mishkeegogamang killed four people.

The fires have prompted Nishnawbe Aski Nation to pursue a new approach to fire safety and prevention for its 49 communities.

A federal study on fire safety on reserves in 2010 found that people living on First Nation reserves are 10 times more likely to die in a house fire than the rest of Canada.

New police station to be built in Eabametoong

Eabametoong First Nation will be getting a new police station to replace its aging modular trailer facility.

The federal government announced on April 14 that it has committed $1.82 million for the project, while the province will commit $1.68 million for a total investment of $3.5 million for the new police facility.

The federal government said its portion of the funding comes through its First Nations Policing Program (FNPP).

Kenora MP Greg Rickford was in the community to make the announcement.

“This is a wonderful initiative for northern Ontario and one that will help improve the safety and security for all of the people in the surrounding area,” said Rickford, who is also the Minister of Natural Resources.

North-South Alliance reaffirmed by Marten Falls and Aroland First Nations
Marten Falls First Nation Chief Eli Moonias and Aroland First Nation Chief Sonny Gagnon have reaffirmed the “North-South Alliance” between their two communities.

Moonias stated that the development of the Ring of Fire requires infrastructure, and the first priority is to build a road that will allow people and goods to move.

“Building a North-South road to access the Ring of Fire makes the most sense, and since any road built on that alignment will pass through the traditional territory of both our First Nations communities, we are re-affirming our alliance,” Moonias said.

Gagnon stated that both communities could benefit from the economic opportunities that come with a road.

“We are willing to work with mining companies, governments, and other partners to ensure our rights are respected and our communities are partners in the development of the Ring of Fire,” said Gagnon.

The North-South Alliance was first announced in March 2012.

ONTC’s Ontera sold to Bell

Ontario has also reached an agreement with Bell Aliant to purchase Ontera, the telecommunications arm of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission (ONTC).

Ontera provides services such as cell phone and Internet to the northeastern Ontario region, including the James Bay coast.

NDP Timiskaming-Cochrane MPP John Vanthof questioned the decision to sell Ontera telecommunications to a private company.

“The sale to Bell Aliant is for $6 million, but the fiber optic ring alone that Ontario owns is worth $23 million,” he said. “On top of that, it will cost the government an estimated $60 million to transfer Ontera to Bell Aliant, and 100 jobs will be lost.”

Ontario says it will continue to operate the motor coach, Polar Bear Express, rail freight, and refurbishment services of the ONTC as a government-owned transportation company.

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