NAN upset over MTO'S planned bridge closures

    THUNDER BAY, ON, Jan. 8 /CNW/ - Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief
Stan Beardy is urging the Ministry of Transportation to rethink its planned
closure of three bridges connecting 16 remote communities within the NAN
territory to the south through the winter road network.
    "While I agree with the ministry's goal of improving the safety and
reliability of the bridges, I do not think it should be at the expense of the
First Nations who rely so heavily on the winter roads," said Nishnawbe Aski
Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Stan Beardy. "Out of 52 weeks of the year, why does
the Government of Ontario select two of the six weeks we use the winter roads
to work on the bridges? Almost one-third of NAN's communities will lose access
to benefits from the winter road season for one-third of the time the season
is open - and this during a year when our communities are experiencing an
access to fuel crisis."

    The affected bridges are:

    -  Badesdowa River (Mud River)
    -  Otoskwin River
    -  Pipestone River

    "The winter road season is a very crucial time for my people," Beardy
said. "It's a short window of time for my First Nations to truck vital goods
and services into their communities at a substantially lower cost than if they
had flown them in."

    Nishnawbe Aski Nation is a political territorial organization
representing 49 First Nation communities in James Bay Treaty 9 and Ontario
portions of Treaty 5 - an area covering two thirds of the province of Ontario.

    First Nations within NAN territory affected by planned MTO bridge

    1.  Keewaywin First Nation
    2.  Koocheching First Nation
    3.  Sachigo Lake First Nation
    4.  Bearskin Lake First Nation
    5.  Muskrat Dam First Nation
    6.  North Caribou Lake First Nation
    7.  Wapekeka First Nation
    8.  Wawakapewin First Nation
    9.  Kasabonka Lake First Nation
    10. Kingfisher Lake First Nation
    11. Wunnumin Lake First Nation
    12. Nibinamik First Nation
    13. Webequie First Nation
    14. Neskantaga First Nation
    15. Eabametoong First Nation
    16. Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation

For further information:

For further information: Michael Heintzman, Media Relations Officer -
Nishnawbe Aski Nation, (807) 625-4906 or (807) 621-2790 mobile

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