Statement from Moose Cree First Nation
June 26, 2020
“The Moose Cree First Nation Chief & Council demands that the ONTC extends the suspension of the PBX service until such time that it is safe for such travel.“
The Polar Bear Express (PBX) train service between Cochrane, Ontario and Moosonee, Ontario has been suspended since April 6, 2020 due to the threat to our community from the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, discussions have occurred on a weekly basis between Moose Cree First Nation, Ontario Northland Transportation Commission (ONTC), the Town of Moosonee, MoCreebec, Weeneebayko Area Health Authority (WAHA) and Mushkegowuk Council on assessing the need to continue with the suspension based on the situation with the pandemic.
During conference calls over the past few weeks ONTC has stated they would reinstate the PBX on June 25, 2020, which they did, despite clear and repeated objections from Moose Cree First Nation, MoCreebec and the Mushkegowuk communities. Only the Town of Moosonee expressed support for the PBX service resuming on that date.
The Moose Cree First Nation Chief & Council demands that the ONTC extends the suspension of the PBX service until such time that it is safe for such travel.
The Moose Cree First Nation Chief & Council believes that systemic racism is why our voice is being ignored. Experiencing systemic racism has unfortunately been a part of our history with government entities and it is once again manifesting itself in how aboriginal concerns are being disregarded.
The Town of Moosonee is a guest within the Homeland of the Moose Cree First Nation and we demand that this municipality immediately withdraw their support of the reinstatement of the train service.
It is not yet safe to resume the train service. There are still 150-200 new cases confirmed in Ontario every day, including recent new cases in Timmins, and Ontario has extended its State of Emergency until July 15, 2020. The pandemic remains a serious threat to our community and we are furious that the Ministry of Transportation and ONTC finds it acceptable to put our people at risk, particularly our Elders.
COVID-19 moves around when people move around. We believe that should it appear in our community it would be as a result of the high number people arriving on each train.
Moose Cree First Nation continues to strongly advise against all non-essential travel.
For questions or further information please contact:
Jeff Hunter, Executive Services Coordinator, MCFN