For release - October 27, 2006
MASHTEUIATSH, QUEBEC — The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, today announced that the Government of Canada will provide up to $8 million to Tshiuetin Rail Transportation, to continue passenger rail service between Sept-Îles and Schefferville, Quebec, through Emeril, Newfoundland and Labrador, until December 31, 2007.
The Minister made the announcement at the conclusion of the Forum socioéconomique des Premières nations du Québec conference. Minister Cannon also offered congratulations to Alexandre McKenzie, President of Tshiuetin Rail Transportation, who was also attending the conference, on the recent completion of Tshiuetin's new diesel locomotive repair shop and extensive improvements to the train station in Schefferville. These projects totalled $3.5 million and were funded by the Government of Canada.
"Tshiuetin Rail Transportation was the first amongst First Nations companies to own and operate a railway in Canada," said Minister Cannon. "Our government is proud to continue its support for this essential service for people living and travelling to and from these remote communities. This funding will permit Tshiuetin Rail Transportation to continue to provide a safe, efficient and high standard of service to all clients."
Tshiuetin Rail Transportation is jointly owned by the communities of Matimekush/Lac-John and Uashat Mak Mani-Utenam, and the Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach. Tshiuetin acquired the Menihek subdivision from the Quebec North Shore and Labrador Railway in December 2005, through an asset purchase agreement with the Iron Ore Company of Canada.
"It is important to Canada's New Government that the people of Northern Quebec and surrounding areas have reliable rail services," added Minister Cannon. "These rail services provide an essential lifeline for people in remote communities. They also support economic activities in the mining, recreation and tourism sectors."
Passenger rail service is the only surface transportation mode available to Schefferville and is used by First Nations people in the area to travel to their traditional hunting, fishing and trapping territories on a year-round basis.
"We are very proud and happy to be the new owner and operator of the Menihek subdivision, " said Mr. McKenzie. "We feel this railway will be an important tool of social and economic development for our communities. Our people are working and developing their skills as we speak. A new pride has come upon us."
Federal funding comes from the Regional and Remote Passenger Rail Services Contribution Program administered by Transport Canada. The program ensures that safe, reliable and sustainable passenger rail services are provided to regional and remote areas of the country.
Natalie SarafianPress SecretaryOffice of the Minister of Transport,Infrastructure and Communities, Ottawa613-991-0700
Cathy CossaboomCommunicationsTransport Canada, Ottawa613-993-0055
Richard J. BellGeneral ManagerTshiuetin Rail Transportation Inc.,Sept-Îles418-960-0982
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