MARCH 26, 2020 – Moose Factory, ON
Please note: This statement is regarding the resolution to suspend the Polar Bear Express passenger train service, and is not an official notice of closure.
On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak to be pandemic. Since that date this pandemic has caused increasing concern nationally and locally as it continues to spread. The Chief & Council of Moose Cree First Nation (MCFN) has been regularly discussing ways to mitigate the risks to our Membership and to our community, in consultation with the Community Pandemic Emergency Operations Team.
Chief Mervin Cheechoo and the other Mushkegowuk Chiefs met by conference call on March 25, 2020 to discuss their concerns relating to the threat of a COVID-19 spreading to Moosonee and Moose Factory and eventually reaching the other Mushkegowuk First Nations on the James Bay coast via the Polar Bear Express train service and James Bay Winter Road.
Their discussion led them to pass a resolution, moved by Chief Mervin Cheechoo, to suspend the Polar Bear Express passenger train service with the last train operating from Cochrane to Moosonee on Monday, March 30, 2020 for a period of two weeks. The Mushkegowuk Chiefs will re-evaluate the situation with the COVID-19 pandemic in the region at the end of the two weeks to determine if the suspension of services needs to be extended or can be lifted.
Chief Mervin Cheechoo and the Mushkegowuk Chiefs agreed that this drastic measure is required at this time to protect the health and safety of the Mushkegowuk First Nations.
The freight train services will continue normal operations and the suspension only relates to passenger train service.
The Council of Chiefs strongly urge the Town of Moosonee to support this resolution in order for the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission to take the necessary steps to suspend Polar Bear Express passenger services as per the resolution.
For questions or further information please contact:
Jeff Hunter, Executive Services Coordinator, MCFN