Minister of Indigenous Services concludes trip to northwestern Ontario to meet with First Nations leader and Indigenous partners

News release

July 29, 2021 — Ottawa, Traditional unceded Algonquin Territory, Ontario — Indigenous Services Canada

Earlier this week, the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services, visited First Nations communities in northwestern Ontario and met with First Nations leaders and partners to discuss the health needs of communities. Minister Miller reaffirmed the Government of Canada’s commitment to meet those needs.

On July 26, Minister Miller arrived in Wabaseemoong Independent Nations (WIN) and met with Chief Waylon Scott where he reaffirmed the Government of Canada’s commitment to support the construction and operation of a Mercury Wellness Centre, as well as to discuss progress on creating a seamless system of primary health care for residents. In his meeting with Chief Scott, Minister Miller also shared the approval of federal funding for two priority water and wastewater projects in the community. Indigenous Services Canada will be providing an additional $2.4M for upgrades to the First Nation’s water treatment and water distribution systems that, once complete, will support the lifting of their long-term drinking water advisory. Indigenous Services Canada will also be providing an additional $391,936 to support emergency repairs to the First Nation’s wastewater treatment plant and lift station. While visiting the community, Minster Miller also congratulated Chief Scott on the progress being made at tripartite coordination agreement discussions in support of the First Nations’ exercising jurisdiction over child and family services. Minister Miller also announced the approval of $1.5 million to support WIN’s capital needs to construct a building specifically for delivering services to families in the community.

During his visit to Asubpeeschoseewagong Netum Anishinabek (Grassy Narrows First Nation) in the afternoon, Minister Miller met with Chief Randy Fobister and elected Council to sign an amendment to the Mercury Care Home Framework Agreement. The revisions include a commitment of $68.9 million to fund the operations, maintenance and specialized service delivery of the Mercury Care Home in the community, along with a periodic funding review that may be required to fulfill the goals of the Mercury Care Home. This funding is in addition to the $19.5 million committed for the detailed design and construction of the facility. When complete, the Mercury Care Home will offer specialized care for residents who are living with the effects of methylmercury poisoning to address their unique health needs while staying closer to home, community, and family.

During the trip, Minister Miller visited nurses and health staff at Kenora Chiefs Advisory to thank them for support in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccine roll-out. Their dedication has helped keep Indigenous Peoples and communities safe, and build confidence in the vaccines.

Minister Miller then travelled to Niisaachewan Anishinaabe Nation where he met with Chief Lorraine Cobiness for a tour of the community. The Minister and Chief Cobiness discussed common priorities in terms of child and family services, lands and economic development, as well as water/wastewater infrastructure. During his visit, Minister Miller had the opportunity to try some blueberry bannock made by Chief Cobiness’ mother.

On Tuesday afternoon, Minister Miller visited Anishinabe of Wauzhushk Onigum where he personally congratulated Chief Chris Skead on the lifting of the 100th long-term drinking water advisory. The Government of Canada partnered with the First Nation to connect the majority of the community to the City of Kenora’s water and wastewater system and install decentralized water treatment systems in homes outside the main areas of Second Portage and Bald Indian Bay. A virtual celebration was held in March 2021. During his visit, Minister Miller toured the booster station delivering water directly into the community from Kenora.

Minister Miller concluded his visit to northwestern Ontario in Washagamis Bay, where he joined Chief Marilyn Sinclair, Ogichidaa Francis Kavanaugh, and members of the First Nation in a tour of the community, including a visit to the recently completed state of the art water treatment plant. Minister Miller congratulated Chief Sinclair and the First Nation on the incredible progress they’ve made to improve access to safe clean drinking water for their community. Chief Sinclair told Minister Miller what clean water from the taps meant to her and expressed anticipation of having the community’s long-term advisories lifted. Currently, there are two long-term drinking water advisories in effect in Washagamis Bay. The recently completed water treatment plant and water distribution system upgrades will support the lifting of the advisories.

Quotes

“The Government of Canada is committed to working together with First Nations to advance self-determination in infrastructure and ensure the health needs of their members are met. First Nations in Ontario have made significant progress to achieve this shared goal. It is an honour and privilege to have been welcomed by the Chiefs, councils, and members of Wabaseemoong Independent Nations, Asubpeeschoseewagong Netum Anishinabek, Niisaachewan First Nation, Anishinabe of Wauzhushk Onigum, and Washagamis Bay to discuss these important matters in their communities. I look forward to continued collaboration to ensure the health, safety, and infrastructure needs of First Nations communities are met.”

The Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Indigenous Services

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Contacts

For more information, media may contact:

Adrienne Vaupshas
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Indigenous Services
adrienne.vaupshas@canada.ca

Media Relations
Indigenous Services Canada
819-953-1160
SAC.media.ISC@canada.ca

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