Mask-wa Oo-ta-ban, the bear train, is an initiative of First Nations, communities and socio-economic stakeholders of the Algoma passenger train rail corridor, led by the Missanabie Cree First Nation, to resume the Algoma passenger train service.
The Algoma passenger train is important to the economic, employment, social and remote access needs of the First Nations, communities, businesses, property owners and visitors of the Algoma region. The Algoma region is a distressed area for employment and economic opportunity. The $40 – $50 million in economic activity and the 100s of jobs the Algoma passenger train supported directly and indirectly are vital to the Algoma region’s economic sustainability.
The Algoma passenger train also provided safe, reliable, all-season transportation to and through the remote wilderness regions of Algoma allowing First Nations rights-holders safe, reliable access to their traditional lands and socio-economic opportunity, allowing property owners in the remote regions safe, reliable access to their properties, allowing business owners and their employees safe, reliable access to their businesses and work, and allowing visitors and tourists safe, reliable and unique access to one of the most beautiful wilderness recreation areas in the world. The remote wilderness regions of the Algoma passenger train corridor was an inspiration to the Canadian Group of Seven artists in their early work and many of the sites for 100’s of their paintings are not publicly accessible except by the Algoma passenger train.
Although industrial roads allow periodic access to some of Algoma’s remote regions, industrial roads are often not safe, and frequently unreliable because industrial roads are built and maintained at the discretion of industry when, if, and how they need them. Industrial roads cannot be considered true public access unless a level of government commits to upgrading and maintaining these roads permanently as safe, reliable access. The costs upgrading and maintaining the industrial roads as safe, reliable public access be truly substantial on an ongoing basis.
The First Nations, through the leadership of the Missanabie Cree First Nation, has developed a not-for-profit organization to operate the Algoma passenger train. The organization will be a mechanism of collaboration on addressing remote access and socio-economic needs of the Algoma rail corridor with a Board of Directors of First Nations, communities, tourism, property owners and socio-economic stakeholders.
The goal for the Mask-wa Oo-ta-ban (Bear Train, previously the Algoma Passenger Train), led by the Missanabie Cree First Nation, is to have the train in operation as soon as possible, and to optimize long-term operations in order to address remote access, economic, employment, and social needs of the rightsholders and stakeholders along the rail corridor as effectively as possible.
- The developmental plan for this organization is that Mask-wa Transportation takes over full operational responsibility and liability for the Bear Train by securing an ROC, paying access fees to CN for the use of their rail.
Service is anticipated to commence in 2018.
For more information on the Missanabie Cree First Nation, click here.