The consortium of First Nations and Northern Manitoba municipalities who joined forces with Fairfax Financial Holdings and AGT Food & Ingredients to purchase the Hudson Bay Railway and Port of Churchill from former owner OmniTrax last August held its first board meeting Feb. 28.
The Missinippi Rail Limited Partnership board, which includes representatives of member municipalities and Northern Affairs communities, as well as of Mathias Colomb Cree Nation (MCCN), Opaskwayak Cree Nation, War Lake First Nation, Peguis First Nation and Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO), elected its officers at the meeting. These include co-chairs and co-presidents Mayor Michael Spence of Churchill and OCN Onekanew (chief) Christian Sinclair as well as MCCN councillor Shirley Castel as vice-president and Flin Flon Mayor Cal Huntley as treasurer.
"This is an unprecedented combination of the OneNorth on-line communities and First Nations with Mathias Colomb Cree Nation, Peguis and the rest of the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak First Nations,” said Sinclair in a March 4 press release. “We have shown that an entire region can unite to accept an economic opportunity and challenge – to turn the Hudson Bay rail line and the Port of Churchill into a corridor of prosperity for Northern Canada.”
“Churchill and the region endured a challenging time to where we’re now an equal partner in this relationship with Fairfax and AGT,” said Spence. “The Arctic Gateway Group defied the odds and were able to reopen the rail line last fall signifying a new era and a commitment to realizing the full potential of these strategic, nation-building assets. With the strong support of the federal government we were able to transfer these assets to our ownership group and are now ideally positioned for a bright future”
The board also appointed Spence, Sinclair, War Lake First Nation Chief Betsy Kennedy and Arthur Mauro as Missinippi Rail Limited Partnership’s nominees to the board of the Arctic Gateway Group, the umbrella organization that owns and operates the rail and port assets.
Mauro is a former chancellor of the University of Manitoba and of Lakehead University who began his career as a lawyer specializing in communications and transportation law and was named chairman of Royal Commission on Northern Transportation in 1967.
"We are honoured that Arthur Mauro has agreed to sit on the Arctic Gateway Group Board,” said Sinclair. “Art shares our passion for the potential of this project. He brings an unprecedented experience in all modes of transportation serving the region and has been a successful business leader at the highest levels."
"Chief Kennedy, Onekanew Christian Sinclair and I are excited to have the opportunity to join Arthur Mauro and the Fairfax/AGT nominees on the Arctic Gateway Group board,” said Spence. “We are all committed to achieve business and employment opportunities, excellent serviceand growth for the rail line, port and tank farm.”