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Friendship Agreement a positive step forward: Chief

Incident Date: 
Friday, September 29, 2017 - 16:15
Location: 
Fort William First Nation
Date Published: 2017-09-29

FORT WILLIAM FIRST NATION, Ont. -- A newly signed friendship agreement is a big step toward a safer community for youth leaving their remote communities to continue education in Thunder Bay, says the Chief of North Caribou Lake First Nation.

Representatives of Fort William First Nation, the City of Thunder Bay, the Thunder Bay Police Service and North Caribou Lake First Nation signed the formal agreement during a Friday morning ceremony at the Fort William First Nation band office. Signatories of the agreement hope to promote and co-operate in the areas of community development, public safety, anti-racism, education, and social and cultural awareness.

“When I was a 13-year-old I remember getting on a plane, not knowing where I was going and not knowing what to expect when I got there,” said North Caribou Lake First Nation Chief Dinah Kanate, recalling when she had to leave home to complete her high school education.  

“That’s a scary, scary experience for a child. I believe this (Friendship Agreement) is a step in a positive direction for our students.”  

On June 1, under the leadership of Chief Kanate, a community prayer and unity walk in memory of Tammy Keeash and Josiah Begg was organized in Thunder Bay. Hundreds participated in the walk, which stared at Thunder Bay City Hall and concluded at the Thunder Bay Police Service station.  

Friday’s signing ceremony represented a continuation of a growing relationship that originated during the unity walk.

“I was very humbled by the walk in June,” said Thunder Bay Police Service A/Chief Sylvie Hauth.

“It’s heartwarming to see us all, only a few months later, come together … and getting down to business.”  

The agreement helps formalize ongoing relationship building and outreach between the Thunder Bay Police Service and the community.

That outreach goes beyond the city’s borders to include the likes of North Caribou Lake First Nation and other communities relying on Thunder Bay as a destination for education among other services.

In late August, First Nation students as young as 13 moved away from home for their first time. Many travelled hundreds of kilometres to attend high school in Thunder Bay.

Fort William First Nation Chief Peter Collins believes the Friendship Agreement provides positive change for those students and everyone living in Thunder Bay.

“There is still much work that needs to be done,” Chief Collins said. “However, today’s ceremony and signing is another positive step in the right direction towards true reconciliation and partnership.

“I look forward to working alongside all the signatories and helping to assist to create real positive change and to improve the safety and well-being of all people that call Thunder Bay home.”

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