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Support for air carriers 'vital' to health of remote communities, says Grand Chief

Nishnawbe Aski Nation's Alvin Fiddler looks for more upgrades to northern airports
Noront Resources airplane photo
(Noront Resources Facebook photo)

Government pandemic support to keep northern air carriers flying to isolated communities is being welcomed by the Nishnawbe Aski Nation.

Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler issued a news release about Ottawa and Queen's Park collaborating to provide up to $11.1 million to support financially struggling airlines experiencing reduced passenger service in the region due to community lockdowns and travel restrictions.

This commitment addresses inequities in services for First Nations and improve their quality of life,” said Fiddler.  "Air transportation in NAN territory is vital to the health and well being of our remote members. We look to both levels of government to ensure these commitments will transcend beyond the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to provide future enhancements.”

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Thunder Bay-based NAN represents 49 First Nations and 45,000 people in the James Bay Treaty No. 9 and the Ontario side of Treaty No. 5, roughly two-thirds of the province.

The Ministry of Transportation owns and operates 29 remote airports in Northern Ontario, with 27 serving NAN remote communities. 

NAN said it has been a strong advocate for improvements to these facilities with enhanced navigational technology, increased staffing, and upgraded terminal buildings.

The organization said survival of these small carriers ensures the continuity of essential supplies and services throughout the pandemic and into the future.