Today, the Honourable Seamus O’Regan, Minister of Indigenous Services, issued the following statement regarding the signing of the final Memorandum of Agreement with Cat Lake First Nation:
“Earlier today, Chief Keewaykapow, the councillors of Cat Lake First Nation, representatives from Windigo Tribal council and I signed the final Memorandum of Agreement, which formalizes the commitments and plans laid out in the Interim Framework Agreement signed on February 21, 2019.
All parties had hoped to sign the agreement in the community of Cat Lake today; but unfortunately I was unable to fly out of Thunder Bay due to poor weather conditions. We agreed to sign the document as we met over videoconference, with a celebration in the community to follow at a later date. Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler of Nishnawbe Aski Nation was also present to witness the signing of the document.
The final Memorandum of Agreement provides updated funding numbers based on actual costs and represents an investment of up to $12.8 million. It includes:
- $5 million to support the construction of 15 new housing units;
- $2.1 million to support repairs and renovations of 21 existing housing units;
- $3.1 million in support of 10 new modular housing units;
- $200,000 for the community’s new temporary warehouse structure;
- Approximately $2.4 million in support of other associated costs; including site surveying, servicing and inspections; costs associated with transporting materials on the winter road; and hiring a Professional Project Manager, Financial Manager, and Maintenance Manager – Housing;
- A commitment to continue discussions on long-term planning for community development including housing.
I am pleased to say that much of the work agreed to in the Interim Framework is already well underway. The signing of this Memorandum of Agreement represents another important step forward to ensure that this critical work continues.
Chief Keewaykapow and I also discussed ongoing challenges, including those posed by recent weather conditions affecting the winter ice road to the community. This is a primary and urgent concern. The Chief and I agreed to stay in close contact to ensure that materials, construction supplies, and modular units, especially those that already mobilized for delivery from Pickle Lake, will be transported to the community as soon as the winter road is able to support the weight of those loads.
We also spoke about ongoing health challenges faced by the community and agreed to continue working together to support the wellbeing of children and all members of the community. As of February 11, 2019, Indigenous Services Canada increased the number of nurses serving the community from 3 to 4, a change that will remain in place indefinitely to address the needs of the community.
I want to thank Chief Keewaykapow and Council members, Windigo Tribal Council, Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler, Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald, and the Honourable Bob Nault, Member of Parliament for Kenora for their ongoing commitment and hard work to advance these important initiatives together.
I look forward to viewing the progress underway and celebrating our ongoing partnership when I visit Cat Lake First Nation.”
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